Posts Tagged ‘FBI’

A hypothetical question

May 11, 2017

Suppose Hillary Clinton had won the 2016 election.   Do you think James Comey would have kept his job as director of the FBI?

The real reason James Comey was fired

May 11, 2017

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The official reason given by President Donald Trump for the firing of FBI Director James Comey was his mishandling of the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information—a reason which, as I wrote in the previous post, was justified.

But most people take his real motive to be that fact that Comey is pressing forward with his investigation of ties of Trump and his supporters with Russia and Russians.

You can see this in Trump’s firing letter.  He wrote: While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless …

What would come logically after “I nevertheless…”?   Probably something like this: I nevertheless am under a cloud because of the FBI’s ongoing investigation of possible connections of my people with Russia.

Of course he wouldn’t and didn’t write this, but why mention the investigation at all if that wasn’t what was on his mind?

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Why James Comey should have been fired

May 10, 2017

The stated reason for President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey is that Comey bungled the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton.

This is true.  Comey did bungle the investigation.

Comey’s FBI also is investigating possible Trump-Russia ties, and his firing smacks of President Nixon’s Saturday night massacre during the Watergate investigation.

James Comey

But the thing is, Comey is just as unfit as Trump says he is.

Trump said he acted on the recommendations of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  Rosenstein said Comey acted improperly last July by announcing the FBI had decided Hillary Clinton shouldn’t be prosecuted for having classified information on her private e-mail server.  Sessions said he agreed with Rosenstein.

Comey’s troubles began last June when ex-President Bill Clinton and Attorney-General Loretta Lynch spent an hour in conversation at an Arizona airport.   They were suspected of discussing the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, especially when Hillary Clinton, a short time later, said that, if elected, she would reappoint Lynch.

Soon thereafter Lynch said she would abide by the recommendations of the FBI and federal prosecutors, no matter what they were.   Comey evidently took this as a green light to announce the results of his investigation, which was a departure from standard FBI practice.

His worse blunder came shortly before the election when he reported he had discovered new Clinton e-mails on the server of her aide, Huma Abedin.  Although he later said this didn’t amount to anything, the negative publicity may have been a deciding factor in the election.

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Did the DNC leaks really affect the election?

December 17, 2016

I have learned throughout my long life never to say that some powerful person or institution could not have done a certain thing because doing would have been idiotic.

150px-fsbBut it certainly would have been idiotic for Russian intelligence agents to think they could influence the 2016 election by leaking e-mails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chief.

And while that isn’t proof that they weren’t the leakers, it is a reason to reserve judgment.

The Clinton campaign leaks had little or no effect on the election outcome.  All they did was to confirm what some of us already thought about how the DNC was tied in with the Clinton primary election campaign, and Clinton was tied in with her rich donor friends.  If I had been pro-Clinton, this would not have been new information that would have changed my mind.

Within my circle of friends, I don’t know anybody who cared much about the Clinton campaign leaks.  On the other hand, everybody I know who ever handled classified information was upset by the FBI reports on Clinton’s mishandling of classified information.

The CIA statements of about possible Russian involvement in the Clinton campaign leaks have had much greater impact on American public opinion than the leaks themselves ever did.

Where is the National Security Agency in all this?  All this is in the NSA area of expertise.  The NSA would have better information than the FBI or CIA.

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The CIA and FBI in the 2016 election

December 15, 2016

During the election campaign, FBI statements about Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified information hurt her and helped Donald Trump.

CIA statements about alleged Russian hacking of Clinton campaign e-mails hurt Trump and helped Clinton.  As it turns out, the FBI counter-intelligence service is not convinced that it was the Russians who hacked the Clinton campaign.

cia-logoAnd, in fact, Craig Murray, a former British diplomat and human rights activist close to Julian Assange, claims to have personal knowledge that the Clinton campaign leaks came from a disgruntled Democratic campaign staffer.

President Obama wants the “intelligence community” to produce a report on whether Russian intelligence agencies have interfered in U.S. elections going back to 2008.  And he wants the report done before Donald Trump is sworn in on Jan. 20, which seems like an impossible deadline to produce anything more than informed—or uniformed—opinion.

Meanwhile Democrats who are trying to change the Electoral College vote want the electors to be briefed by the CIA on alleged Russian inference.

I have no evidence that the disagreements between the FBI and CIA are any more than an honest difference of opinion.   Even if that is so, I don’t like the idea of presidential candidates being vetted by the CIA.

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Should Apple decrypt the i-Phone for the FBI?

March 3, 2016

The FBI demands Apple Computer to figure out a way to read encrypted files on an i-Phone owned by an alleged terrorist.  Apple Computer’s management says there is no way to do this without opening up all i-Phone files to the FBI.  The case is likely to go all the way to the Supreme Court.

Suppose the FBI wins its case.  Suppose a year later the national police in Russia, China or Iran, arrest an elleged terrrorist and demand that Appple create a similar tool for them?  Do the Russian, Chinese or Iranian security services automatically get access to all i-Phones?

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Martin Luther King Jr. was a dangerous radical

January 18, 2016

In his lifetime, Martin Luther King Jr. was a hated and feared radical, with reason.  Many of those who honor him today today were, or would have been, violently against him had he lived.

J. Edgar Hoover regarded him as a dangerous Communist, much as Hoover’s successors regard the #BlackLivesMatter movement today.

117tzz-aust-79He is remembered today by many as a nice man who thought that people should be judged as individuals and not by race, and that black people should not engage in violent protest.  He is honored by the kind of people whom he fought in his lifetime.

What’s forgotten is his call for radical social and political change, his advocacy of labor rights and his unconditional opposition to war.

king.racial.progressHe advocated economic justice as well as civil rights. and spoke almost as often in union halls as in churches.  His “I Have a Dream” speech was given at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs (my emphasis) and Freedom.  Dr. King was murdered in Memphis, Tenn., while on a mission to support striking garbage collectors.

He turned against President Lyndon Johnson, the greatest presidential champion of civil rights since President Grant, because he could not be silent in the face of war and massing killing in Vietnam.

The best way to honor Dr. King is to oppose the things that he opposed and to do the things that he did.

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Dr. King, the NAACP and the FBI: an untold story

January 22, 2015

Life is a comedy for those who think, a tragedy for those who feel and an open book to those who read.          ==Peter Lee.

It’s long been known how the FBI wiretapped Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and how J. Edgar Hoover regarded King as a pro-Communist subversive.

This morning I came across a review by a blogger named Peter Lee of a book, Devil in the Grove, which tells the opposite side of this story—how the NAACP co-operated with J. Edgar Hoover’s anti-Communist drive in return for the FBI’s investigation of Ku Klux Klan killings in the Deep South.

American Communists were among the strongest and most dedicated supporters of labor rights and civil rights from the 1920s on.  That is why, although small in numbers, they rose to positions of influence in labor unions and civil rights organizations.

Thurgood Marshall

Thurgood Marshall

During the start of the Cold War, labor unions such as the United Auto Workers and civil rights organizations such as the NAACP purged their ranks of Communists.  Thurgood Marshall, the NAACP lawyer who successfully argued before the Supreme Court that segregated schools were unconstitutional, was in the forefront of the anti-Communist struggle.  Marshall later became the first black Supreme Court justice.

I don’t think this was necessarily opportunism.  There was a legitimate question of dual loyalty.

Communists worldwide in the 1930s supported a Popular Front against fascism, then after the Nazi-Soviet Pact in 1939 switched instantly to opposition to the “imperialist war,” only to change back just as quickly when Hitler’s troops invaded the USSR.

I’ve been anti-Communist all my adult life, and I still am.  The problem with anti-Communism during the Cold War was not that opposition to Communism was wrong, but that people like me allowed it to override every other moral and political consideration.

Dr. King did not make that mistake.  He spoke out against U.S. intervention in Vietnam.  His most trusted white adviser, Stanley Levison, was once a key financial supporter of the American Communist Party, although, unbeknownst to the FBI, he had ceased to participate in the CPUSA after 1957.

So the FBI wiretapped him, with the knowledge and support of John and Robert Kennedy, and worked to undermine him, while Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP leadership stood aside.

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The Preacher, the Black Cardinal and the Grand Inquisitor by Peter Lee on China Matters.  The title of the review refers to Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall and J. Edgar Hoover.

The FBI and Martin Luther King by David J. Garrow for The Atlantic (2002).   Background information on the FBI investigation.

FBI uses sting operations to make terrorism cases

July 24, 2014

Human Rights Watch reported that many of the high-profile terrorism cases brought by the FBI since Sept. 11, 2001, were sting operations by the FBI itself.

The international human rights organization did not investigate all the cases, but a representative sample revealed a disturbing pattern of the FBI and its informants concocting fake terrorist plots and then recruiting people to join them.

No doubt some of their targets were real terrorists, said Andrea Prasow, Washington director of HRW.  “But take a closer look and you realize that many of these people would not have committed a crime if not for law enforcement encouraging, pressuring and sometimes paying them to commit terrorist acts.”

HRW said the FBI at times has targeted people who were mentally retarded or mentally ill, people who had no previous idea of getting involved in a terrorist plot, and indigent people who were tempted by large sums of money offered for joining the plot.

Of four plots known to have been concocted without FBI involvement, two were carried out—the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 and the Los Angeles Airport shooting in 2002. The other two were an attempted car bombing in Times Square in 2010, and a plot to bomb the New York subways in 2009.

The American public would be better served if the FBI concentrated on actual terrorist plots, instead of generating fake plots to create a statistically impressive record.

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ILLUSION OF JUSTICE, a report by Human Rights Watch.

US Terrorism Prosecutions Often an Illusion, the Human Rights Watch press release.

All But Four of the High Profile Domestic Terrorism Plots in the Last Decade Were Crafted From the Ground Up by the FBI by Tim Cushing for TechDirt.

Government agents ‘directly involved’ in most high-profile US terror plots by Spencer Ackerman for The Guardian.

Blacklisted: the Secret Government Rulebook for Labeling You a Terrorist by Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Deveraux for The Intercept.