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FBI

FBI found ‘many connections’ between Sarasota family and 9/11

Image of Prestancia home

Many of the documents are thought to contain information about a Prestancia home where federal agents have linked phone calls to known 9/11 suspects, the Bulldog has reported. The calls were made to, or received from, alleged terrorist ringleader Mohammed Atta and 11 other terrorist suspects, the Bulldog has reported.

Originally posted at the Herald-tribune by , last updated 5/14/14

When the FBI investigated a Saudi Arabian family that abruptly left Sarasota weeks before the 9/11 terror attacks, it found “many connections between the (redacted) family and individuals associated with the terrorist attacks on 9/11/01.”

The description, included in documents released Friday as part of a federal lawsuit against the agency, comes as the FBI is working to comply with a federal judge’s order to produce 27 boxes of materials.

To date, the agency said it has moved the boxes to the U.S. Attorney’s office in South Florida, and spent many hours trying to delineate for U.S. District Court Judge William Zloch which documents are top secret by inserting 822 page markers into the boxes.

The agency also explained an earlier discrepancy that resulted in four additional boxes of documents. David M. Hardy, the FBI’s section chief in charge of records management, said the agency used a smaller box size to comply with the order. That and the marker pages resulted in more boxes overall.

“An 80,266 page file was received from Tampa, and the 80,266 page file was produced,” Hardy wrote.

The FBI also shipped a CD… Continue reading

US pushing local cops to stay mum on surveillance

Originally published at AP by Jack Gillum and Eileen Sullivan on 6/12/2014

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration has been quietly advising local police not to disclose details about surveillance technology they are using to sweep up basic cellphone data from entire neighborhoods, The Associated Press has learned.

Image of Berkshire Manor neighborhoodCiting security reasons, the U.S. has intervened in routine state public records cases and criminal trials regarding use of the technology. This has resulted in police departments withholding materials or heavily censoring documents in rare instances when they disclose any about the purchase and use of such powerful surveillance equipment.

Federal involvement in local open records proceedings is unusual. It comes at a time when President Barack Obama has said he welcomes a debate on government surveillance and called for more transparency about spying in the wake of disclosures about classified federal surveillance programs.

One well-known type of this surveillance equipment is known as a Stingray, an innovative way for law enforcement to track cellphones used by suspects and gather evidence. The equipment tricks cellphones into identifying some of their owners’ account information, like a unique subscriber number, and transmitting data to police as if it were a phone company’s tower. That allows police to obtain cellphone information without having to ask for help from service providers, such as Verizon or AT&T, and can locate a phone without the user even making a call or sending a text message.

But without more details about how the technology works and under what circumstances… Continue reading

The Newburgh Sting

On May 20, 2009, four men from the impoverished and largely African-American city of Newburgh, NY, Newburgh Stingwere apprehended for an alleged terror plot. They had no history of violence or terrorist ties, but had been drawn by a Pakistani FBI informant into a carefully orchestrated scheme to bomb Jewish synagogues in a wealthy New York City suburb and fire Stinger missiles at U.S. military supply planes. Their dramatic arrest, complete with armored cars, a SWAT team and FBI aircraft, played out under the gaze of major TV outlets, ultimately resulting in 25-year prison sentences for the “Newburgh Four.”

Amidst the media frenzy surrounding the case, political figures extolled the outcome as a victory in the “war on terror” and a “textbook example of how a major investigation should be conducted,” though others believed the four men were victims of FBI entrapment. THE NEWBURGH STING delves deeply into this case — one of many cases across the country where people have been allegedly drawn into a plot with extreme consequences.

The Imam and assistant Imam of Mesjid al-Ikhlas, Newburgh mosque, recall their first encounters with Shahed Hussain – an undercover informant sent to Newburgh by the FBI in 2008 on a mission to find domestic terrorists. Representing himself as a businessman, Hussain drove expensive cars and made inflammatory statements about newburghwomen and jihad. Suspicious, the Imams told a few of their congregants to stay away from Hussain, but one man, James Cromitie, bought into his story. Cromitie, a low-level drug dealer… Continue reading

Government agents ‘directly involved’ in most high-profile US terror plots

Originally published at the Guardian by Spencer Ackerman on 7/21/2014

Nearly all of the highest-profile domestic terrorism plots in the United States since 9/11 featured the “direct involvement” of government agents or informants, a new report says.

FBISome of the controversial “sting” operations “were proposed or led by informants”, bordering on entrapment by law enforcement. Yet the courtroom obstacles to proving entrapment are significant, one of the reasons the stings persist.

The lengthy report, released on Monday by Human Rights Watch, raises questions about the US criminal justice system’s ability to respect civil rights and due process in post-9/11 terrorism cases. It portrays a system that features not just the sting operations but secret evidence, anonymous juries, extensive pretrial detentions and convictions significantly removed from actual plots.

“In some cases the FBI may have created terrorists out of law-abiding individuals by suggesting the idea of taking terrorist action or encouraging the target to act,” the report alleges.

Out of the 494 cases related to terrorism the US has tried since 9/11, the plurality of convictions – 18% overall – are not for thwarted plots but for “material support” charges, a broad category expanded further by the 2001 Patriot Act that permits prosecutors to pursue charges with tenuous connections to a terrorist act or group.

In one such incident, the initial basis for a material-support case alleging a man provided “military gear” to al-Qaida turned out to be waterproof socks in his luggage.

Several cases featured years-long solitary confinement for… Continue reading

CIA Director George Tenet Facilitated 9/11

Originally published at Dig Within by Kevin Ryan on 7/27/14

After becoming Director of the CIA (DCI) in 1997, George Tenet did what Louis Freeh had done after his appointment as FBI Director. He began to cultivate close personal relationships with the rulers of Saudi Arabia. Like Freeh, Tenet grew especially close to Prince Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to the United States. Bandar and Tenet often met at Bandar’s home near Washington yet Tenet did not share information from those meetings with his own officers who were handling Saudi issues at the Agency. The CIA’s Saudi specialists only learned about Tenet’s dealings with the Saudi authorities inadvertently, through their Saudi contacts. It seems that Tenet was operating within a network that surpassed the interests of the American public. Therefore the unsolved crimes of 9/11, attributed largely to young men from Saudi Arabia, should be considered in light of Tenet’s actions.

As Deputy Director for the CIA, in 1996, Tenet had worked to install one of his closest friends and confidants, John Brennan, as CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia. Brennan is now the DCI but, in his previous role, Brennan often communicated directly with Tenet, avoiding the usual chain of command. At the time, as an apparent favor to the Saudis, CIA analysts were discouraged from questioning Saudi relationship to Arab extremists.

The unusual relationship that both George Tenet and Louis Freeh had with Saudi intelligence (and George H.W. Bush) recalls the private network that was created in the mid-1970s to accomplish covert… Continue reading

Terrorism Prosecutions Often An Illusion

Originally posted by Human Rights Watch on 7/21/14

Investigations, Trials of American Muslims Rife with Abuse

Image of FBI agents taking Cromitie to prison

James Cromitie, center, is escorted from Federal Plaza, headquarters of the FBI in New York, by federal agents and police, early Thursday, May 21, 2009. Cromitie and three other men were arrested Wednesday night in what the authorities said was a plot to bomb two synagogues in the Bronx and shoot down military planes at an Air National Guard base in Newburgh, N.Y. (Michael Appleton/The New York Times)

(Washington, DC) –The US Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have targeted American Muslims in abusive counterterrorism “sting operations” based on religious and ethnic identity, Human Rights Watch and Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute said in a report released today. Many of the more than 500 terrorism-related cases prosecuted in US federal courts since September 11, 2001, have alienated the very communities that can help prevent terrorist crimes.

The 214-page report, “Illusion of Justice: Human Rights Abuses in US Terrorism Prosecutions,” examines 27 federal terrorism cases from initiation of the investigations to sentencing and post-conviction conditions of confinement. It documents the significant human cost of certain counterterrorism practices, such as overly aggressive sting operations and unnecessarily restrictive conditions of confinement.

“Americans have been told that their government is keeping them safe by preventing and prosecuting terrorism inside the US,” said Andrea Prasow, deputy Washington director at Human Rights Watch and one of the authors of the report. “But take a closer… Continue reading

FBI accused of threatening witness in OKC bombing trial

Originally published at FOX13 by Ben Winslow on 7/31/14

SALT LAKE CITY — A trial over evidence and conspiracy theories from the Oklahoma City bombing wrapped up here, with a shocking twist.

As a trial over documents and videotape the FBI had from the 1995 bombing that killed 168 ended on Thursday, the man suing the federal government claimed one of his witnesses had been told not to show up — or else.

Jesse Trentadue said John Matthews, whom he claimed worked as an undercover government operative in the militia movement in the 1990s, had been contacted by an FBI agent and told “it would be best if he didn’t show up to testify.”

“He was told he should take a vacation and that if he did testify he should suffer from a case of the ‘I don’t remembers,’” Trentadue told U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups.

Trentadue told FOX 13 that Matthews had known convicted bomber Timothy McVeigh and worked for the government in an operation targeting the patriot militia movement known as “PATCON.”

“He was part of an operation the FBI ran for a decade during the ’90s where they would infiltrate, and it’s questionable whether they incited the right wing,” he told FOX 13.

Lawyers for the FBI denied the allegation and said it was Matthews who had contacted them asking how he could get out of testifying. Matthews could not be located to testify, they told the judge.

“This is a serious accusation,” Judge Waddoups said.… Continue reading

FBI publicly releases a few more pages about Sarasota Saudis; 80,000 pages given to judge

Originally published at The Broward Bulldog by Dan Christensen and Anthony Summers on 5/9/14

The Justice Department late Friday made public four new, heavily censored documents confirming that by 2002 the FBI had found “many connections” between 9/11 terrorist figures and the Florida family of “an allegedly wealthy international businessman” with ties to the Saudi Royal family.

“On or about 8/27/01 his family fled their house in Sarasota leaving behind valuable items in a manner

Image of Sarasota Florida from Gulf

View of Sarasota Florida from Gulf

indicating they left quickly without prior preparation,” says an FBI “case narrative” written on April 16, 2002.

The name of the international businessman, Esam Ghazzawi, is blanked out in the narrative. Ghazzawi’s name, however, is included on another page – an FBI form that accompanied a letter acquired by FBI agents in Tampa as “evidence” in July 2002. Details about the letter were not released.

The release of Ghazzawi’s name is the first time the government has confirmed Ghazzawi’s involvement in the FBI investigation that lasted until at least 2004, yet was never disclosed to the 9/11 Commission or congressional investigators.

Ghazzawi, adviser to a senior Saudi prince, owned the upscale south Sarasota home where his daughter, Anoud, and her husband, Abdulaziz al-Hijji lived prior to 9/11. Law enforcement sources have said that after 9/11 investigators found evidence – telephone records and photographs of license tags and security gate log books – showing that hijack pilot Mohamed Atta, former Broward resident and fugitive al Qaeda leader Adnan Shukrijumah and… Continue reading

Louis Freeh: The Man With The Secrets

Originally published at whowhatwhy.com by Russ Baker on 8/28/14

Photo of Louis Freeh's wrecked vehicle

Freeh’s Wrecked Vehicle. Courtesy WFFF/WVNY

Any serious student of history is on alert for “interesting accidents.” Because sometimes they are accidents. Sometimes, they’re not.

We have no opinion at the moment on the one-car-wreck that left former FBI director Louis Freeh badly injured around noon on August 25, other than to note some curious facts: the police were hours late informing the office of the governor of Vermont; Freeh was flown by helicopter to the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospital in New Hampshire under armed guard, and has remained under armed guard; the hospital has refused to confirm that he is a patient, even after reports of two surgeries; at least for the first few days no one has answered the phones at his company, Freeh Group International.

The Crash

From news reports available at press time, Freeh

was headed south on Vermont 12 in his 2010 GMC Yukon when he drove off the east side of the road. The vehicle struck a mailbox and a row of shrubs, then came to rest against the side of a tree, police said…

Louis Freeh

Louis Freeh epitomizes the risks attendant in a president’s decision to demonstrate bipartisanship by appointing or re-appointing figures associated with the opposing political party and/or prior regime. He also embodies the troubled legacy of the Bureau from its earliest days. (For a look at how the U.S. media cooperated with the Bureau to misleadingly burnish its image, see this)… Continue reading

Secret National Security Letters

Originally published at The Intercept by Cora Currier on 10/9/14

Image of FBI shieldCan the government make demands for data entirely in secret?

That was the question yesterday before a federal appeals court in San Francisco, where government lawyers argued that National Security Letters — FBI requests for information that are so secret they can’t be publicly acknowledged by the recipients — were essential to counterterrorism investigations. The telecom company and internet provider that have challenged the National Security Letters (known as NSLs) still can’t even be named.

Last year, in a sharp rebuke to the government, a judge found that the gag order that comes with NSLs violated the First Amendment. The nondisclosure rule “significantly infringe[s] on speech regarding controversial government powers,” U.S. District Judge Susan Illston, of Northern California, wrote in March 2013. She also ordered that the FBI stop sending out NSLs entirely, but put the order on hold to give the government a chance to appeal.

The government, predictably, did appeal, and in arguments yesterday before the 9th Circuit, a Justice Department lawyer said that they would lose “an extremely useful tool” if the court upholds the ban on NSLs. (Documents related to the case can be found here.)

The letters, the reach of which was expanded under the Patriot Act in 2001, let the FBI get business records from telephone, banking, and Internet companies with just a declaration that the information is relevant to a counterterrorism investigation.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is representing the… Continue reading

FBI Denies Witness Tampering In Oklahoma City Bombing Lawsuit

Originally published at KFOR by K. Kerry on 11/13/14

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (KSTU) – A federal judge in Utah has indicated that he wants an investigation into whether the FBI tampered with a witness in a trial regarding the Oklahoma City bombing.

Photo of aftermath of 1995 OKC bombing

1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

At a hearing on Tuesday, the judge stopped short of finding the FBI in contempt of court, according to KSTU.

Instead, he indicated that he would appoint a federal magistrate judge to oversee further investigation into the claims.

However, he ruled that the FBI failed to file a report on the allegations in a timely manner.

“The report raises questions and is incomplete and insufficient to conclude if the FBI was involved in witness tampering,” he said.

The claims of witness tampering stemmed from a trial earlier this year over evidence and records connected to the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal building.

Jesse Trentadue is suing over the death of his brother, Kenneth, who he claims was mistaken for a bombing co-conspirator and killed while in federal custody during an interrogation.

Trentadue is asking for records, including videotapes that he claims show convicted bomber Timothy McVeigh parking a truck in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and leaving with someone else before the bomb went off.

Trentadue has claimed that the other person was an FBI operative.

“There’s no doubt in my mind and it’s proven beyond any doubt that the FBI knew the bombing… Continue reading