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Archive for May 18th, 2015

FBI Tapped to Investigate Whether Amtrak Train Struck by Projectile – Even Bullet

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has been tapped to investigate a suspicious mark on the windshield of the Amtrak train that derailed in Philadelphia and killed eight people and injured more than 200 people, CNN reports. 

The NTSB is hoping agents can help determine whether an indentation on the windshield of the derailed train was made by a hurled projectile, or even a bullet.

“The FBI will be on the scene (Monday) to assist us to identify what that may have been,” NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.

Sumwalt said it’s too early to know whether the train was struck.

“We did listen to the dispatch tapes between dispatch and the trains, and indeed the SEPTA engineer did report to dispatch that he had been struck by something. But there was nothing, nothing at all from the Amtrak engineer to dispatch to say that his train had been struck,” he told CNN’s Brianna Keilar.

“Furthermore, we have interviewed the SEPTA engineer. And he did not recall having any conversation between him and the Amtrak engineer. But, nevertheless, we do have this mark on the windshield of the Amtrak train, so we certainly want to trace that lead down.”

 

FBI Dropped Purchase Order on Controversial License Plate Readers

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI planned to invest in license-plate readers that are becoming more popular among local and state law enforcement but didn’t follow through with a purchase order after lawyers expressed concerns about the technology invading people’s privacy, the Associated Press reports. 

The AP received records that indicate the FBI has been interested in using the technology for about a decade to store data from license plates.

The technology allows law enforcement to track suspicious vehicles and search for criminals.

The ACLU is concerned with the ability of law enforcement to identify innocent motorists.

The FBI crrently only uses license plate readers on rare occasions, said FBI spokesman Chris Allen.

“They may only be deployed in support of an investigation and only if there’s a reasonable belief that they will aid that investigation,” Allen said.

Was Hacker Able to Seize Plane Mid-Flight? FBI Investigates

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is investigating whether a purported hacker was able to control a plane mid-flight, The Washington Post reports. 

Chris Roberts, who’s with a security intelligence firm called One World Labs, tweeted on April 15 that he was able to manipulate the in-flight and crew-alerting system of a United Airlines plane. The FBI detained Roberts for several hours after the flight, seizing his equipment and barring him from taking another United flight.

“Lesson from this evening, don’t mention planes,” he later tweeted. “The Feds ARE listening, nice crew in Syracuse, left there naked of electronics.”

Roberts told Wired in an interview that he was only kidding and did not actually take control of the flight. But the point, he said, was to show that it can be done and to alert U.S. officials to the problem.

The FBI said Roberts claimed he was able to take control of the flight.

“He stated that he thereby caused one of the airplane engines to climb resulting in a lateral or sideways movement of the plane during one of these flights,” FBI Special Agent Mark Hurley wrote in his warrant application, as Wired reported. “He also stated that he used Vortex software after comprising/exploiting or ‘hacking’ the airplane’s networks. He used the software to monitor traffic from the cockpit system.”

Dallas Morning News: Garland Flaps Illustrate Shifting Terror Focus

By the Dallas Morning News
Editorial Board

As terror attacks go, the charge of the jihadi wannabes in Garland will not be remembered as textbook. Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi had desire and tools, but their execution was lacking.

Their goal was to crash an American Freedom Defense Initiative meeting, Pamela Geller’s Muhammad cartoon contest. They arrived as it was ending May 3 but advanced no closer than the Curtis Culwell Center parking lot. Confronted by security officers, they tried to shoot their way in; a Garland police officer, with SWAT backing, put them down.

That might have been that, except for the lessons that would spill out. It’s unfortunate that so much attention has been paid to these terrorists’ incompetence. The next ones — and there will be more — may well prove more accomplished. And even Simpson and Soofi’s failure emphasizes how difficult these attacks are to stop.

Geller’s group had paid for private security and extra police. It wasn’t an unsuspecting soft target, like a shopping mall, baseball stadium or sports arena. The FBI had an investigative file on Simpson, based on past jihadi suspicions.

So how does this guy — with a partner, assault rifle and body armor — get so close? FBI Director James Comey said the bureau sent a bulletin alerting Garland police, among others, about Simpson before the Geller event. However, the FBI also said it had no reason to believe that Simpson intended to attack or that he had even left home base in Phoenix.

Garland Police Chief Mitch Bates said his department “had no information from the FBI or anyone else that Elton Simpson posed a threat to our event.” Yet Bates did concede that an assistant chief was on the distribution list for the FBI notice but didn’t see it.

So the FBI sent email that a terrorism suspect over in Arizona might have an interest in a Texas event but, as far as anyone knew, wasn’t headed to Texas. And Garland police missed the message. All things considered, several dozen people at the conference were quite fortunate that Garland officers had their range training in.

To read more click here. 

 

Other Stories of Interest


Column: The Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI Urges Congress to Reauthorize USA Patriot Act

Ellen Glasser

Ellen Glasser
President of The Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI

Today, the Society of Former Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is urging Senate leaders to pass legislation that will reauthorize the expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) Act.

Representing 8500 current and former FBI Agents, the Society is an apolitical, professional membership organization with no agenda, other than to support efforts to keep our nation and citizens safe. Based on our experience, we know the necessity of the provisions that are set to expire. They have never been more necessary than they are in today’s threat climate.

Passed in 2001 after the attacks of 9/11, the Patriot Act provided law enforcement with critical tools in the fight against terrorism. The provisions set to expire govern how the FBI lawfully collects data, how we track “lone wolf” attackers, and how we obtain surveillance orders. The threats against America have grown even stronger and more brutal since 2001. Al-Qaeda, ISIL, AQAP, Al-Shabaab, and other groups and individuals like them, all seek to do deadly harm to us. The numbers have grown, their skills have increased, and their resolve is unwavering and absolute.

The terrorist threats that we face today, and particularly within our own borders, should alarm every citizen in America. FBI Director James Comey has addressed the use of social media to recruit increasing numbers of people to ISIL within the United States. Recently, ISIL claimed responsibility for an attack in Texas. A report now claims that ISIL has placed “soldiers” in fifteen states. This is surely not the time to let down America’s guard.

The FBI is committed to the rule of law and to the rights of our citizens to privacy. However, let us be clear. Unless we can successfully address imminent threats to safety, the American way of life cannot be preserved. Without the necessary tools and without trust in the FBI, our nation will be weaker and our citizens will be less safe. We believe that the FBI’s lawful efforts, along with vigilant oversight, strike the proper balance between security and privacy.

As its acronym suggests, the expiring provisions of the Patriot Act are essential to Protecting America. We ask members of Congress to do their part by supporting the reauthorization.