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Tag: spying

FBI Director Wray Defends Bureau, Says No Evidence ‘Spying’ Occurred

FBI Director Christopher Wray

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director Christopher Wray distanced himself from Attorney General William Barr, saying Tuesday he’s unaware of any illegal surveillance and that he doesn’t use the politically charged term “spying.”

“That’s not the term I would use,” Wray told senators at a budget hearing when asked about Barr’s allegations that the bureau may have abused their powers in investigating Trump’s campaign.

The question came from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., who said he “was very concerned by” Barr’s “use of the word spying, which I think is a loaded word.”

Wray also was asked if he had “any evidence that any illegal surveillance” of Trump’s campaign occurred.

“I don’t think I personally have any evidence of that sort,” Wray said.

The FBI director also offered to help explain to Barr how the Russia investigation began.

Comey on AG Barr’s Claims: ‘I have never thought of that as spying’

Former FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Former FBI director James Comey joined the criticism of Attorney General William Barr after he suggested in congressional testimony this week that the FBI and Justice Department spied on the Trump campaign.

“When I hear that kind of language used, it’s concerning because the F.B.I., the Department of Justice conduct court-ordered electronic surveillance,” Comes told the New York Times. “I have never thought of that as spying.”

Barr testified that he plans to examine the origins of the FBI investigation into Russia’s election meddling, saying the bureau may have acted improperly.

“I think spying did occur,” Mr. Barr said. “The question is whether it was adequately predicated. And I’m not suggesting that it wasn’t adequately predicated. But I need to explore that.”

Barr created a firestorm by using the term “spying,” which typically refers to illicit surveillance.

Trump repeated Thursday that he believed “there was absolutely spying into my campaign.”

“I’ll go a step further: In my opinion, it was illegal spying, unprecedented spying, and something that should never be allowed to happen in our country again,” Trump said. “And I think his answer was actually a very accurate one.”

Alleged Russian Agent Reaches Plea Deal with Federal Prosecutors

Maria Butina

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A gun rights activist and alleged Russian agent has reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors, according to several news outlets.

Defense attorneys and federal prosecutors indicated the case against Maria Butina is headed to a plea hearing.

“The parties have resolved this matter, and the Defendant Maria Butina remains in custody,” they wrote.

Butane was charged in July with conspiracy and acting as the agent of a federal government.

Both parties requested a plea hearing this week.

More details are expected to emerge from the hearing.

Justice Department Directs IG to Investigate Trump’s Claim of FBI Spying on HIs Campaign

President Trump, via White House

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Here’s the latest political storm in Washington.

The Justice Department on Monday directed, a the behest of President Donald Trump, the Inspector General to probe the president’s allegation that his campaign had been “infiltrated or surveilled” by the FBI, NBC News reports.

“The Department has asked the Inspector General to expand the ongoing review of the FISA application process to include determining whether there was any impropriety or political motivation in how the FBI conducted its counterintelligence investigation of persons suspected of involvement with the Russian agents who interfered in the 2016 presidential election,” Department of Justice spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement.

As always, the Inspector General will consult with the appropriate U.S. Attorney if there is any evidence of potential criminal conduct,” she added.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein weighed in saying “if anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action.”

While some see this as legitimate, others see it as a tactic by the Trump camp to try to discredit the Robert Mueller investigation.

 

FBI Records: Agents Spied on Muhammad Ali Because of Ties to Nation of Islam

Muhammad Ali in 1966

Muhammad Ali in 1966

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI spied on late boxer Muhammad Ali in 1966, keeping tabs on his divorce and a speech at a Miami mosque, while agents investigated the Nation of Islam, according to newly released documents by the bureau.

The documents were released on the FBI’s website and first reported but the New York Times on Thursday.

The FBI stressed in documents that Ali was not personally under investigation, but his connection to the Nation of Islam made him an interest “from an intelligence standpoint.”

The documents, which refer to Ali by his birth name Cassius Clay, show agents monitored his divorce.

“The Miami (FBI) office is requested to follow the divorce action between Cassius and Sonja Clay with particular emphasis being placed on any NOI (Nation of Islam) implication being brought into this matter,” one memo stated.

The bureau also alluded to a speech at a Miami mosque, where Ali talked about efforts to remove his heavyweight title.

Ali was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, leading to the stripping of his boxing title in 1967.

Documents Show Feds Tried to Discredit Snowden Using His Own Email

Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Newly declassified documents show that Edward Snowden first raised concerns with the NSA before he leaked the information.

In one letter, Snowden questioned whether an presidential executive order allowing the spying program could supersede federal law, the Daily Mail reports.

 “I’m not entirely certain, but this does not seem correct, as it seems to imply Executive Orders have the same precedence as law,” Snowden wrote in the e-mail. “My understanding is that EOs may be superseded by federal statute, but EOs may not override statute. Am I incorrect in this? Between EOs and laws, which have precedence?”

The new documents lend credibility to Snowden’c claims that he repeatedly tried to raise concerns about the NSA’s surveillance of Americans.

Other Stories of Interest

Developer of Anonymous Tor Software Leaves Country to Avoid FBI

Data securityBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

One of Tor’s core software developers has left the United States because she doesn’t want to expose users to potential spying.

CNN reports that the FBI wants Isis Agora Lovecruft to testify in a criminal hacking investigation.

But fearing she’ll be coerced to undermine Tor, which allows Internet users to hide their locations, she left the U.S. for Germany.

“I was worried they’d ask me to do something that hurts innocent people — and prevent me from telling people it’s happening,” she said in an exclusive interview with CNNMoney.

The FBI declined to comment.

FBI Spies on Russian Intelligence by Bugging Binders with Listening Devices

spy graphic

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI resorted to Cold War spy tactics to eavesdrop on Russian intelligence agents in New York City, planting listening devices into binders full of “confidential” information, according to court documents revealed this week.

The covert action came to light in court filings in the trial of Evgeny Buryakov, who is accused of posing as a Russian bank employee. Federal prosecutors said Buryakov was really working for the Russian foreign intelligence agency, SVR, CNN reports. 

According to court documents, Buryakov thought he was meeting with an energy company analyst in 2012, but he actually was communicating with an undercover FBI agent.

The agent supplied the bugged binders to Buryakov in 2013, allowing the FBI to eavesdrop on hours of conversations among Russian intelligence.

The recordings “make clear” that the men “were operating as SVR officers by receiving taskings from Moscow, gathering responsive information and sending it back to SVR headquarters,” the court documents say.