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Tag: journalist

Journalist Who Exposed ‘Whitey’ Bulger’s Ties with FBI Dies

One of the books co-written by Gerald O’Neill.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Gerald M. O’Neill, an intrepid Boston Globe journalist who helped expose mobster James “Whitey” Bulger as an FBI informant, has died.

He was 76.

O’Neill was a longtime investigative reporter and editor for the newspaper’s Spotlight Team when he revealed in 1988 that Bulger was killing people while snitching for the FBI. At the time, the bureau was protecting the murderous crime boss.

“That stopped time in Boston,” Stephen A. Kurkjian, one of the original Spotlight reporters, told New York Times for an obit.

Kurkjian said the FBI told the Globe its information was erroneous and would embarrass the newspaper if it dropped the bombshell report. But editors stood behind O’Neill’s investigative work and published the story. After all, O’Neill had valuable sources within the FBI.

“It was a nerve-racking moment,” Dick Lehr, a Spotlight reporter who worked on the series with Mr. O’Neill, told the Times.

A decade later, the FBI finally admitted publicly that O’Neill and his team was right – Bulger was an FBI informant.

O’Neill and Lehr wrote two books about Bulger. One of them, “Black Mass: The Irish Mob, the FBI, and a Devil’s Deal,” which was published in 2000, was turned into a 2015 movie in which Johnny Depp starred as Bulger.

O’Neill died at his Boston home Thursday after complications with interstitial lung disease.

Wife of Slain Journalist Sues FBI for Confidential Records about His Murder

Slain journalist Steven Vincent.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The wife of a journalist who was beaten and shot dead in Iraq in 2015 won’t rest until she gets justice.

But first, Lisa Ramaci needs classified documents from the FBI to go after Iranian officials she believes are behind the death of Steven Vincent, a 49-year-old freelance reporter.

Ramaci has sued the FBI for those documents, saying the bureau has refused to release more than 100 pages of documents, the New York Post reports

Ramadi has filed a civil lawsuit against Iran, its central bank and its national oil company.

Vincent was captured, beaten and shot dead by local police in Iraq a few days after he published an article about Iranian-sponsored radicals.

FBI Investigates Murders of Syrian-American Journalist And Her Mom

Halla Barakat was murdered in Syria in September. Photo via Twitter.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is investigating the September murders of a Syrian-American journalist and her mother in Turkey, but local Turkish authorities are refusing to cooperate.

Halla Barakat, 23, and her mother, Orouba Barakat, 60, were found dead on Sept. 21 and were active in the Syrian opposition against the government of President Bashar Assad. They were stranded and stabbed to death in a shared Istanbul apartment.

Investigators believe the murders were carried out by professionals because their bodies were doused with a chemical solution that delays the decomposition of remains, ABC reports.

Because Halla Barakat was born in the U.S., the FBI has legal jurisdiction to investigate the homicides overseas.

“The TNP is awaiting forensic evidence to be analyzed and currently has a suspect in custody who is strongly believed to be the perpetrator of the homicide of Halla and Orouba Barakat,” Piro wrote to the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in the letter. “Due to jurisdictional legalities, the TNP will continue to work this matter and provide updates to our Legal Attache office in Ankara.”

The bureau told CAIR that Turkish National Police “respectfully declined the FBI’s assistance.”

Federal Authorities Investigating Shooting Death of Journalist in Texas

Journalist Jay Torres was killed in Texas.

Journalist Jay Torres was killed in Texas.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI, Secret Service and U.S. Marshals Service have joined an investigation into the murder of a freelance journalist in Garland, Texas.

Jacinto Hernandez Torres was discovered with a gunshot wound on June 13 in the backyard of a vacant house he was considering buying, the Dallas Morning News reports. 

Authorities are unsure why Torres was killed, but his family members said he was working on stories that could endanger him. One of the stories was human trafficking.

“We are aware that he was a journalist, as well as worked in real estate. We are working at all aspects and leads that we have in order to find out who killed Mr. Torres,” Lt. Pedro Barineau told CBS.

Journalist Convicted of Hacking, Accused FBI of Manipulating Evidence

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A journalist convicted of hacking Wednesday claims the FBI provided misleading evidence in his case because he would not reveal a source, the Washington Post reports. 

Matthew Keys, a former Reuters social media editor, was accused of providing login credentials to a group of hackers who broke into the Los Angeles Times’ networks to alter an online story.

“The FBI agent admitted on the stand to editing chat logs,” Matthew Keys said in an interview Wednesday night. “They presented this case with edited and misleading evidence and facts that told a brilliant story that was total bulls––t.”

Keys, who was found guilty on three counts of hacking, faces up to 25 years in prison when sentenced.

The Justice Department denied any wrongdoing.

ProPublica: Here’s One Way to Land on the NSA’s Watch List

By by Julia Angwin and Mike Tigas
ProPublica

Last week, German journalists revealed that the National Security Agency has a program to collect information about people who use privacy-protecting services, including popular anonymizing software called Tor. But it’s not clear how many users have been affected.

So we did a little sleuthing, and found that the NSA’s targeting list corresponds with the list of directory servers used by Tor between December 2010 and February 2012 – including two servers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Tor users connect to the directory servers when they first launch the Tor service.

 That means that if you downloaded Tor during 2011, the NSA may have scooped up your computer’s IP address and flagged you for further monitoring. The Tor Project is a nonprofit that receives significant funding from the U.S. government.

The revelations were among the first evidence of specific spy targets inside the United States. And they have been followed by yet more evidence. The Intercept revealed this week that the government monitored email of five prominent Muslim-Americans, including a former Bush Administration official.

It’s not clear if, or how extensively, the NSA spied on the users of Tor and other privacy services.

After the news, one of Tor’s original developers, Roger Dingledine, reassured users that they most likely remained anonymous while using the service: “Tor is designed to be robust to somebody watching traffic at one point in the network – even a directory authority.” It is more likely that users could have been spied on when they were not using Tor.

For its part, the NSA says it only collects information for valid foreign intelligence purposes and that it “minimizes” information it collects about U.S. residents. In other words, NSA may have discarded any information it obtained about U.S. residents who downloaded Tor.

However, according to a recent report by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, the NSA’s minimization procedures vary by program. Under Prism, for example, the NSA shares unminimized data with the FBI and CIA.

In addition, the NSA can also later search the communications of those it has inadvertently caught in its Prism dragnet, a tactic some have called a ” backdoor” search. It’s not clear if similar backdoors exist for other types of data such as IP addresses.

In response to the Tor news, the NSA said it is following President Obama’s January directive to not conduct surveillance for the purpose of “suppressing or burdening criticism or dissent, or for disadvantaging persons based on their ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion.”

[Disclosure: Mike Tigas is the developer of an app that uses Tor, called the Onion Browser.]

ProPublica is a not-for-profit investigative news website.

Memo Suggests ABC News Journalist Gave Up Source to FBI During OKlahoma Bombing Story; Gawker Website Identifies Journalist as Current CBS New Wash. Bureau Chief

Tim McVeigh

By John Solomon and Aaron Mehta
Center for Public Integrity

WASHINGTON — A once-classified FBI memo reveals that the bureau treated a senior ABC News journalist as a potential confidential informant in the 1990s, pumping the reporter to ascertain the source of a sensational but uncorroborated tip that the network had obtained during its early coverage of the Oklahoma City bombing.

The journalist, whose name is not disclosed in the document labeled “secret,” not only cooperated but provided the identity of a confidential source, according to the FBI memo — a possible breach of journalistic ethics if he or she did not have the source’s permission.

The ABC employee was even assigned a number in the FBI’s informant database, indicating he or she was still being vetted for suitability as a snitch after providing “highly accurate and reliable information in the past” and then revealing information the network had obtained in the hours just after the 1995 terrorist attack by Timothy McVeigh.

To read more click here.

UPDATE (Tues; 5:15 p.m.): John Cook of the website Gawker reports that the ABC journalist was Christopher Isham, now a vice president at CBS News and the network’s Washington bureau chief.

Cook writes: “Isham’s tip was of course not true, and ABC News never reported it. But the FBI found him useful enough to open an informant file on him, and circled back a year later to ask who his or her source was. Astonishingly, Isham gave him up:

“Nearly a year later, the network staffer was contacted by the FBI and agreed to divulge ABC’s source for the uncorroborated claim: a former CIA officer named Vincent Cannistraro, who was on contract to the network as a consultant, who, in turn, had gotten the information from a Saudi general.”

To read Cook’s full story click here.