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How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Archive for December 19th, 2017

Judge Rules Against FBI in Reporter-Impersonation Case

By Steve Neavling

The FBI incensed news organizations after reporters discovered the bureau used special agents to impersonate a journalist to help capture a suspect in a string of anonymous bomb threats in 2007. 

Saying the impersonation “endangers the media’s credibility and creates the appearance that it is not independent of the government,” two media groups sued the FBI for records to show how often the bureau had masqueraded as news organizations. 

The FBI responded that it had no such records.

But last week, a D.C. Circuit Court ruled that the FBI failed to adequately search and locate documents related to the practice of using undercover agents to pose as journalists to go after suspects, Courthouse News reports

Courthouse News writes:

Two media groups brought the underlying challenge based on reports about how the FBI apprehended an individual who in 2007 made a series anonymous bomb threats to a Seattle high school, causing near-daily evacuations of students, teachers and administrators.

Believing the threats were the handiwork of a narcissist, the FBI agents investigating the matter devised a plan: They would flatter the culprit into clicking a link that appeared to be press coverage suggesting he’d outsmarted the authorities.

When he did, a specialized malware would be secretly delivered to his computer and it would reveal his location. The plan worked and the individual calling in the bomb threats was arrested.

A technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union spotted the FBI’s ruse several years later while reviewing documents from an earlier records request. News of the media-impersonation tactics quickly made national headlines. The New York Times even printed a letter in justification of the ruse from FBI Director James Comey Jr.

In the wake of the controversy, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and Associated Press filed three FOIA requests for documents on the FBI’s impersonation of journalists and creation of “fake news” in the course of investigations.

Trump, Attorneys Are Optimistic Mueller Will Exonerate President

President Trump, via White House

By Steve Neavling

Just days before meeting with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office later this week, Trump’s attorneys are reportedly optimistic that the president is on the verge of being exonerated.

CNN reports that Trump has been boasting to friends and advisers that he expects to soon be cleared of any wrongdoing, according to people close to the president.

But legal analysts and media reports indicate the special counsel investigation into ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia is escalating.

The ever-evolving probe has so far netted charges against four of Trump’s close allies: former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former campaign adviser and Manafort associate Rick Gates, early foreign-policy adviser George Papadopoulos, and former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

It’s unclear why the White House is so optimistic.

The Washington Post, citing people familiar with the investigation, reports that the investigation could take another year, pointing out that the team is still cooperating with witnesses and requested documents related to the probe. 

Tough on Border Rhetoric, Trump Leaves Top Homeland Security Posts Vacant

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke (left) with President Trump, via Homeland Security.

By Steve Neavling

President Trump talks big abound securing the nation’s borders and thwarting terrorist attacks, yet he’s left dozens of top Homeland Security jobs unfilled since taking office in January, “hallowing out the massive agency,” Quartz reports

In Trump’s first 11 months as president, he’s left numerous vacant positions, from the department’s chief of staff to every leadership position in its “Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction” office.

After former DHS head John Kelly vacated his position to become the White House chief of staff in July, acting secretary Elaine Duke has recommended people for top positions, but they have been rejected or ignored by the White House.

Neither DHS nor the White House would comment.