Evan Bernstein, the Anti-Defamation League’s New York Regional Director, speaking during a news conference at the ADL national headquarters in New York City on March 3. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

ADL: Juan Thompson’s arrest alone won’t stop ‘unprecedented’ wave of anti-Semitism


Thanking the FBI and police for the arrest of Juan Thompson, who allegedly made eight bomb threats to Jewish institutions, the Anti-Defamation League called the current wave of anti-Semitic acts “unprecedented.”

“Law enforcement at all levels is a close friend to the Jewish people in America,” Evan Bernstein, ADL’s New York regional director, said at a news conference Friday. “Just because there’s been an arrest today around our bomb threats does not mean that the threats have disappeared or will stop.”

The news conference was convened after law enforcement announced earlier in the day that Thompson had been charged in connection with the deluge of bomb threats received this year by Jewish institutions. Thompson, 31, of St. Louis, allegedly made bomb threats to JCCs, Jewish schools and an ADL office as part of his cyberstalking of a former romantic partner.

The ADL and several other Jewish groups had met Friday with FBI Director James Comey. According to a statement from the groups in attendance, which were not listed, the meeting concerned recent anti-Semitic acts and collaboration between Jewish institutions and law enforcement.

“All the organizations in attendance expressed the deep gratitude of the entire community for the extraordinary effort that the FBI is applying to the ongoing investigation,” the statement said. “The representatives of the Jewish community left with the highest confidence that the FBI is taking every possible measure to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.”

According to statistics compiled by the New York Police Department, anti-Semitic acts have nearly doubled in early 2017 as compared to one year earlier. The ADL said that due to the reach of the internet and the quantity of recent bomb threats, white supremacists are more emboldened than ever. 

“We’re in unprecedented times,” said Oren Segal, director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism. “We’ve never seen, ever, the volume of bomb threats that we’ve seen. White supremacists in this country feel more emboldened than they ever have before because of the public discourse and divisive rhetoric.”

In total, more than 100 Jewish institutions, mostly JCCs, have received bomb threats since the beginning of the year. The last two weeks saw vandalism at Jewish cemeteries in PhiladelphiaSt. Louis and Rochester, New York, as well as two more waves of bomb threats called into JCCs, schools and institutions across the country, representing the fourth and fifth waves of such harassment this year. No explosive device was found after any of the calls.

The ADL called on President Donald Trump to take action against anti-Semitism, including by directing the Department of Justice to launch a civil rights investigation into the threats, and by creating a federal interagency task force on combating hate crimes chaired by the attorney general.

“We need action to stop these threats,” Bernstein said. “History shows that when anti-Semitism gains the upper hand, courageous leaders need to speak out and take action before it’s too late.”

Segal said the ADL has been tracking Thompson, a disgraced former journalist, since he fabricated the identity of a cousin of Dylann Roof, the gunman who killed nine at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.

Thompson was fired from his reporter post at The Intercept last year for fabricating sources and quotes. According to the ADL, he has posted inflammatory tweets about white police officers and the “white New York liberal media.”

St. Louis man arrested for bomb threats against Jewish institutions


A St. Louis man has been charged for making at least eight bomb threats against Jewish community centers and the Anti-Defamation League.

Juan Thompson, 31, made some of the threats in the name of a former romantic partner he had been cyberstalking, according to a statement Friday by the U.S. Attorney of Southern New York. Thompson has been charged with cyberstalking, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

“Today, we have charged Juan Thompson with allegedly stalking a former romantic interest by, among other things, making bomb threats in her name to Jewish Community Centers and to the Anti-Defamation League,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. “Threats of violence targeting people and places based on religion or race – whatever the motivation – are unacceptable, un-American, and criminal. We are committed to pursuing and prosecuting those who foment fear and hate through such criminal threats.”

Thompson made some of the threats in his victim’s name and some in his own in an attempt to portray himself as being framed. In a series of  Twitter posts this week, he claimed his victim was in fact making the threats and framing him. He also tweeted sympathetic messages expressing support for the Jewish victims of the threats.

But the FBI complaint against Thompson says he was behind at least eight of the threats made in January and February, mostly via email. The complaint says Thompson threatened institutions including the ADL, JCCs in San Diego and New York City, schools in New York and Michigan, and a Jewish history museum in New York City. In the threats to the schools, made on Feb. 1, Thompson referred to a “Jewish newtown,” a reference to the 2012 mass shooting at an elementary school in Connecuticut.

In total, more than 100 Jewish institutions, mostly JCCs, have received bomb threats since the beginning of the year. The last two weeks saw vandalism at Jewish cemeteries in PhiladelphiaSt. Louis and Rochester, New York, as well as two more waves of bomb threats called into JCCs, schools and institutions across the country, representing the fourth and fifth waves of such harassment this year. No explosive device was found after any of the calls.

“The NYPD and the FBI have done an outstanding job in this regard,” Paul Goldenberg, director of the Secure Community Network, which coordinates security for Jewish institutions, told JTA on Friday. “We at SCN and the Jewish Federations of North America commend them and hold them in the highest regard.”

The threats prompted clamor for President Donald Trump to condemn the anti-Semitism behind the targeting of Jewish institutions.

After initially demurring to comment directly when asked about the spate of recent anti-Semitic incidents, Trump eventually called the threats to the community centers “horrible” and “painful,” and Vice President Mike Pence paid a visit to a Jewish cemetery vandalized near St. Louis.

Suit brought by Holocaust claims lawyer unearths Clinton emails warrant


A federal judge in New York unsealed a search warrant on Dec. 20 that the FBI used to re-open the Hillary Clinton emails case just days before the election.

Though names are redacted, the warrant appears to confirm what has already been reported in the press: That while searching a laptop belonging to Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s estranged husband, former Congressman Anthony Weiner, agents determined the computer contained data related to Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state.

The release of the warrant comes in response to a lawsuit brought by E. Randol Schoenberg, a prominent Holocaust claims lawyer in Los Angeles. Speaking shortly after the warrant was unsealed, Schoenberg greeted the news with outrage.

“I don’t see how anyone in their right mind could find probable cause from this affidavit,” he told the Journal. “There’s no indication that there would be anything new on this laptop, no indication that there would be anything different from what they've seen — which they’d already determined did not give rise to a crime.”

[Click “>Nov. 16 Jewish Journal op-ed, he suggested FBI Director James Comey’s handling of the case might have swung the election against her.

Schoenberg’s suit came largely as a layman’s effort: Though a well-known art restitution attorney, he admits that he is no specialist in search-and-seizure or national security law.

Instead, the 50-year-old attorney gained international prominence by reclaiming Jewish-owned art looted by the Nazis. His breakthrough case came in 2006, when he managed to reclaim a Gustav Klimt painting stolen from a Jewish family in Vienna 68 years earlier. The case won him both acclaim and fortune, and was made famous by the 2015 film, “Woman in Gold.”  A former president of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, Schoenberg donated the funds for a new building and was the leader in its revitalization.

He decided to seek the search warrant after reading about it in an “>ordered Justice Department lawyers to deliver the search warrant and related documents to his chambers by Dec. 15.

Then, in a Dec. 19 memorandum, the judge announced that the Justice Department had withdrawn their opposition to releasing the documents, and he released a redacted version the following day.

In the memo, Castel said he would accept the Justice Department’s suggested redactions and add some of his own. The redactions, he said, seek to protect the identity of two individuals, one of whom is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation and neither of whom have been charged with a crime. Additional redactions remove the names of law enforcement officials.

In November, Schoenberg tried to obtain the warrant through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, and later

Judge orders DOJ to produce records relating to Clinton emails


A federal judge ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) Tuesday to produce FBI records related to the Hillary Clinton email investigation

L.A.-based Holocaust claims lawyer sues FBI over Clinton warrant


E. Randol Schoenberg was confused when he read a “>here to download a copy of the complaint]

By the time the FBI reopened the investigation, it had already spent months investigating the Clinton emails.

“It’s like somebody’s been to your house and searched ten times and says, ‘Oops, there’s a drawer I missed. Can I go back in?’” Schoenberg said.

The New York Times article was the last time Schoenberg saw mention of a search warrant in the press. So he decided to file a request on Nov. 12 under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to review the warrant. Two days later, the FBI acknowledged receiving his request.

The transparency law allows government agencies twenty days, excluding holidays and weekends, to determine whether it will comply with the request and notify the petitioner. After three weeks during which he heard nothing from the FBI, Schoenberg contacted David B. Rankin, a Manhattan-based attorney specializing in FOIA requests, and filed suit in the United States District Court of Southern New York.

In an interview with the Journal, Schoenberg speculated one of two things happened to allow the FBI to obtain a search warrant: Either a lax judge didn’t care enough to scrutinize the warrant application, or “it could be something more nefarious.”

Not unlikely, by his estimation, is that somebody provided the FBI allegedly incriminating information that turned out to be untrue.

In the course of his Holocaust-related work, he said, he’s worked with law enforcement and U.S. attorneys, persuading them to investigate or file suit.

“You’re allowed to give them information and encourage them to start investigate or file lawsuits,” he said. “That’s totally fine as long as it’s correct. But what if it’s false?”

Part of the reason he filed suit in New York (other than the fact that Weiner’s computer was there) is that he suspects somebody in the Manhattan orbit of then-candidate Donald Trump may have provided a false lead to the FBI, he said. 

In the interview, he named New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, all Trump allies, as potential sources for the FBI's investigation. 

Shortly after filing the FOIA request, he laid out in a Jewish Journal op-ed what could be at stake if incriminating information comes to light.

“This is potentially very serious, something that if traced back to Donald Trump might even lead to impeachment,”

Investigate the FBI


It seems very clear to me that FBI Director James Comey’s Oct. 28 letter announcing a reopening of the investigation into emails from Hillary Clinton changed the outcome of the election. For nine of the final 11 days before the election, the negative story dominated the news and cast a cloud over her candidacy, and the polls reflected a downturn for Clinton during that same time. In the end, Clinton narrowly lost four states — Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — where voters who said they decided in the final week greatly favored Donald Trump. I think it is safe to say that without Comey’s letter, Clinton would be our next president.

As strange, and possibly illegal, as it was for Comey to make his announcement regarding the investigation so close to the election, from the outset, I wondered what the legal grounds were for searching through the new emails found on the laptop of her aide Huma Abedin’s estranged husband, Anthony Weiner. Two days after Comey’s letter, on Oct. 30, The New York Times reported that the Justice Department had obtained a search warrant. I have yet to see any further reporting on the warrant. To get a search warrant issued, the FBI needed to go to a federal judge. It is interesting to me that Comey sent his letter before obtaining the warrant. The publicity certainly must have influenced the judge. A judge cannot simply grant any request for a search warrant. Under the Fourth Amendment, a search must be reasonable, meaning there must be “probable cause” or a “reasonable suspicion” that evidence of a crime will be discovered. Ordinarily, the FBI submits an affidavit describing the evidence that gives rise to the reasonable suspicion. We have yet to see what evidence the FBI relied on in seeking the warrant.

The only thing Comey said in his letter about the grounds for reviewing the emails found on Weiner’s laptop was that they “appear to be pertinent” to the FBI’s prior investigation of Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state. But it is important to remember how unusual and politically motivated the investigation was, and that it had never elicited any evidence of a crime.

Certainly since the Watergate investigations led to the recommendation of impeachment and resignation of Richard Nixon, Republicans have dreamed of doing the same thing to a Democratic president. During the presidency of Bill Clinton, investigations into allegations concerning the Whitewater real estate development turned into a roving investigation in search of a crime (Travelgate, Filegate), until finally stumbling on Bill Clinton’s false denial of a recent affair with White House aide Monica Lewinsky in a deposition concerning allegations by Paula Jones of harassment prior to his election. The same pattern reappeared in the Republican-led Benghazi investigation, which ultimately found no wrongdoing by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton but uncovered that she had, against State Department policies, used a private email server for State Department business. This resulted in a further investigation, despite the fact that there was no reason to believe any crime had been committed.

Still, because the private server had been used for public business, Clinton could not object to requests to search her work-related emails, which were delivered to Congressional investigators in 2014. In July 2016, Comey concluded that after reviewing tens of thousands of emails, there was no evidence that any prosecutable crime had occurred.

There are millions of federal employees with access to classified information, and all of them leave the office and go home, where they talk to other people, make telephone calls, write letters and diaries, and send texts and emails. Simply because someone has the ability to commit the crime of intentionally violating laws governing the handling of classified information does not give rise to a reasonable suspicion that any crime has been committed. If it did, then the FBI could at any time gain a search warrant to inspect the private communications of each and every employee who has a security clearance.

The FBI had to allege more than that the emails might be pertinent to an investigation that had yet to result in evidence of a crime. To obtain a warrant, it had to establish probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime would be found.

Since we now know that no such evidence was found on the laptop, it is time to investigate why the FBI believed it had probable cause.

I can think of two possible explanations. It could be that Comey, like most Republicans, believed there was a sufficient cloud of suspicion over Hillary Clinton to justify pretty much any investigation. Think of how the FBI might treat a notorious gangster like Al Capone. “Get me something on him! Anything!” the FBI director might tell his subordinates. That certainly seems to be how many in the FBI thought of Clinton, even after Comey had reported in July that there would be no prosecution. Some agents were already in open revolt over the email probe three weeks before Comey’s surprise announcement. So maybe they never even thought much about the probable cause requirement, and perhaps the judge signed the search warrant, mindful of the intense public attention to the issue, without really considering the legal standard of whether the suspicions raised were reasonable.

But it could also be that the FBI made a serious attempt to show probable cause, and submitted affidavits from investigators supporting the issuance of the warrant. Often, the FBI relies on confidential informants, and so the affidavit might contain new allegations of criminal activity and evidence different from what had already been reviewed and dismissed as insufficient in July. It is this possibility that has me most interested in the case. What if the new allegations came from people associated with the Trump campaign? What if the allegations were intentionally false? During the nine days when the investigation was underway, Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani made public statements suggesting he was in communication with the FBI about the ongoing investigation. It does not seem too far-fetched to believe that politically motivated individuals might have tried to get the FBI to reopen the investigation of Clinton by making false allegations. Finding Abedin’s emails on Weiner’s laptop might have been just such an opportunity to carry out their wishes.

We need to remember that whatever suspicions were raised by the FBI when it sought the new search warrant, those suspicions turned out to be groundless. Whoever thought Clinton committed a crime in mishandling her emails was wrong. And whoever thought the emails on Weiner’s laptop contained evidence of that crime also was wrong.

Remember, this is not a case where the FBI was investigating a particular crime or something reported by a victim. No dead body had been found. There was never any suggestion of a specific security breach, as there was when CIA agent Valerie Plame was exposed in a Washington Post article. This was, and has always been, a Republican-inspired fishing expedition that came up empty. It is now time to turn our focus on those who encouraged and led the investigation, to determine whether, in fact, a real crime has been committed by the FBI or those who informed its investigation.

My hope is that the media and, perhaps, the Justice Department already are looking at this in a more expedited fashion. Richard Painter, a former White House chief ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush administration, has called for an investigation. 

For my part, I have made a Freedom of Information Act request to the FBI to see the search warrant and supporting affidavits. This is potentially very serious, something that if traced back to Donald Trump might even lead to impeachment. It deserves to be investigated fully and openly and quickly, because if a crime was committed in the course of the FBI investigation, it is the crime of the century.


E. Randol Schoenberg is an attorney and a law lecturer at USC. He can be reached at randol@bslaw.net.

FBI: Criminal hate crimes against Jews rose by 9 percent in 2015


A rise in hate crimes against Muslims and Jews contributed to a 6.8 percent overall increase in 2015 incidents from the previous year, according to the FBI.

Anti-Muslim hate crimes reported to police rose by some 67 percent, to 215 incidents, from the 154 in 2014, the official FBI data released Monday showed. It marks the second highest number of crimes against Muslims since the national statistics began being reported in 1992. The highest number occurred in 2001, the year of the 9/11 attacks, with 481 incidents.

The number of religiously motivated hate crimes was 1,244, some 21.3 percent of the total. Some 53.3 percent of the religiously motivated hate crimes, or 664 incidents, were directed at Jews, who make up less than 2 percent of the population. Crimes against Jews increased by about 9 percent from 2014.

Over half of all hate crime, 3,310 incidents, or 56.6 percent, was committed on the basis of race, with 52.7 percent being anti-black.

The FBI tracks over 30 different types of bias motivations within the categories of race and ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender and gender identity.

Also Monday, the Anti-Defamation League expressed “deep concern” over “ongoing reports” of anti-Semitic and other hate incidents in the wake of the 2016 election results last week.

Its Center on Extremism has been monitoring the proliferation of racist and anti-Semitic graffiti and vandalism across the country, including the use of swastikas and other Nazi imagery including the name of President-elect Donald Trump, as well as reports of assaults and harassment, the ADL said in a statement.

The ADL also established a mechanism in which the public can report anti-Semitic, racist or bigoted incidents, and encouraged social media users to promote the hashtag #ExposeHate.

“Sadly, the contentious tone from the 2016 election has translated into a moment of ripeness for the haters to deface properties across the country with some of the most unsettling anti-Semitic and racist imagery,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the group’s CEO. “We must not let this troubling trend of hate define our society, which means that the onus is on our community leaders, religious clergy, elected officials and others to remain vigilant, report incidents when they surface and make clear that this level of vitriol will not be tolerated.”

Who needs Wonder Woman when there’s Hillary Clinton?


I love that her superhero costume was bridal white, the eternal symbol of her gender; recalling both the fight for women’s suffrage and the institution of marriage, that for too long was the only way to lift women out of obscurity and into society.

I love that white wears ironic on her, because her marriage has both helped and hurt her. And because, when she spoke at the convention, Hillary Clinton was no man’s bride: She was a woman of history, a promise to the passionate that even if you’ve been beaten down, you can still triumph. And she dressed fittingly – fresh, luminous, new — for her wedding to our country.

I love that she began her speech as a mother, with gratitude and acknowledgment, starting with the most important person in her life — her child. I love that she’s the kind of leader who honors others for their role in her success. And that she’s the kind of person who can say of her onetime rival, President Barack Obama, “I’m better because of his friendship.” And I love that she chose to validate her latest rival, Bernie Sanders, with powerful words of promise: “You put economic and social justice issues front and center where they belong,” she said, telling his supporters, “I’ve heard you: Your cause is our cause.”

I love that despite what anyone says, she is still — by law — a wife. And she understands her complicated relationship to her complicated husband as a “conversation.” One that started in a law library 45 years ago and which, she said, has lasted “through good times that filled us with joy, and hard times that tested us.” It doesn’t get more honest or transparent than that.

I love that when the crowd cheered for her, she held her hand to her heart and that her smile was as wide as the cheers were wild.

I love that as a candidate she offers substance, experience and intelligence in abundance; that her policy positions are so studied and meticulous, I am confident that she can handle any worldly challenge and any world leader. Hillary doesn’t just say what she’ll do; she tells you how she’ll do it.

I love that when the House Select Committee grilled her during an 11-hour marathon hearing on Benghazi last October, she turned a pressure cooker into a political parley, and was so well prepared, answering question after question with wit and wisdom, she changed the hearing intended to destroy her into a prime-time presidential platform.

I love that her scandals have become meaningless to me. I don’t care that she had a private email server or that the Clinton Foundation has received donations from Gulf States, or that she earned money from Wall Street speeches. I don’t believe her commitment to public service and working class families is tempered in any way by self-interest and ambition. People are more than one thing, and I trust her moral commitment to the underserved, overlooked and ill-treated. I love how absurd it is that no matter how much measurable good she does — whether getting healthcare to children, recourse to sexual assault survivors, or support for 9/11 responders — conspiracy theories regarding her motives abound unabated by facts.

I love how she’s accused of flip-flopping positions out of political expediency when really it demonstrates her ability to change and grow and compromise. I love that her mistakes stem from her commitment to a 40-year career that has only increased in responsibility, prestige and influence. And that the people who criticize her for every little thing fail to see that her life of public service has demanded more of her as a person and citizen than most of us would ever want or allow.   

I love that she went undercover in a segregated school to study the role of race in education – 30 years ago. And that she advocated for universal healthcare a decade before Obama was even elected to the Senate.

I love that she is fiercely smart, ultra savvy, and hyper-qualified to run for president of the United States.

I love that loving her puts me into a club with Meryl Streep and Lena Dunham.

I love that when I tried to take notes during her speech, I couldn’t stop crying. Because I know what this means to my 93-year-old grandmother, who carved her own set of cracks in that stubborn ceiling. And I know what it would have meant to my mother, who worked hard and sacrificed, but knew too well the disadvantages dealt to women, to finally see her role model and idol accept the nomination for president. I cried because I know that this nomination means – for every woman in America and around the world who has been told, “No,” who has been paid less, who has been passed over, ignored, belittled, ridiculed, humiliated, raped, shoved aside, manipulated, exploited, cheated on, disbelieved and discounted – that a woman can rise to the world’s most powerful position. That the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards equal opportunity for all.

I love that a woman has what it takes to lead our country. I love that our next president might be blonde, wear mascara and drape jewels around her neck.

I love the hope, possibility and wonder Hillary’s story inspires: “When there is no ceiling, the sky is the limit.”


Danielle Berrin is a senior writer and columnist at the Jewish Journal.

Trump defends Star of David tweet: ‘Just a star’


Donald Trump on Wednesday defended his controversial “Star of David” tweet, insisting the “sick” media stirred it up to cover up for Hillary Clinton’s FBI interview on Saturday. 

“It was a star. A star. Like, a star,” Trump said during a campaign rally in Cincinnati, Ohio on Wednesday. “It’s a star! Have you all seen this? It’s a star. My boy comes home from school, Baron, he draws stars all over the place, I never said, ‘Oh, that’s the Star of David, Baron, don’t!’ And it actually looks like a sheriff’s star, but I don’t know.”

In a lengthy rant, Trump blamed the media of “racially profiling.” 

“Behind it, it had money. ‘Oh but there’s money behind it,’” Trump said, imitating what he said was a report on CNN. “So actually, they’re racially profiling. They’re profiling, not us, because why are they bringing this up?”

“To me it was just a star,” Trump continued. “But when I really looked at it, it looked like a sheriff star.” 

Trump went on to defend his social media director, Dan Scavino, and pointed to his daughter Ivanka, son-in-law Jared Kushner and their three children to prove he’s not anti-Jewish. “Dan is a really wonderful guy. I didn’t get angry at him,” he said. “I said, ‘Dan, that’s a star! Don’t worry about it.’” 

On Tuesday, ADL’s CEO Jonathan Greenblatt 

FBI to recommend no charges in Clinton email probe, director says


The FBI will recommend to the U.S. Justice Department that no charges be filed over Hillary Clinton's use of private email servers while secretary of state, agency Director James Comey said on Tuesday, lifting a cloud of uncertainty over her White House campaign.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation found evidence of “extremely careless” handling of emails byClinton and that at least 110 emails contained classified information when they were sent, said Comey, announcing the result of a yearlong investigation.

But, he said, the FBI concluded “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring charges against the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

“Although the Department of Justice makes final decisions on matters like this, we are expressing to Justice our view that no charges are appropriate in this case,” Comey told reporters in Washington.

His recommendation will likely stand. The country's top prosecutor, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, said on Friday that she would accept the recommendations of career prosecutors and the FBI director on whether to charge Clinton for mishandling emails. 

The FBI probe has dogged Clinton for the past year, contributing to her low poll ratings on honesty and trustworthiness. Republicans pointed to the controversy as evidence that she considered herself above the law.

Donald Trump, Clinton's Republican rival in the Nov. 8 election, has hammered her on the issue, saying the investigation should disqualify her from being president. On Tuesday, he said the FBI decision was unfair.

“The system is rigged,” he said on Twitter. “As usual, bad judgment.”

Comey's announcement came hours before Clinton's first campaign appearance with President Barack Obama, set for later Tuesday in North Carolina. It also came less than three weeks before the start of the Democratic National Convention at which Clinton is to be nominated.

The FBI has been investigating whether Clinton broke the law as result of personal email servers kept in her Chappaqua, New York, home while she was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013. One of the questions is whether she mishandled classified information on the servers.

The Clinton campaign issued a statement saying it was “pleased” with the FBI decision.

'GLAD MATTER RESOLVED'

“As the secretary has long said, it was a mistake to use her personal email and she would not do it again. We are glad that this matter is now resolved,” spokesman Brian Fallon said.

Clinton has repeatedly said she never sent or received classified information on her private servers. She underwent a voluntary 3-1/2-hour interview with the FBI on Saturday in Washington.

Comey said, however, there was “evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information.” 

But he said the FBI did not find that Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate the law, and that there was no “intentional misconduct” by her lawyers who sorted her emails.

He said her staff should have known Clinton's private email was an improper place for classified information, but there was no evidence that anyone had hacked Clinton's communications.

Comey said there were no previous cases that supported filing criminal charges against Clinton. Other cases had involved intentional mishandling of information, he said, and there was no evidence Clinton knew she was violating the law.

Last year, the FBI recommended that former CIA director David Petraeus be charged with a felony for his mishandling of classified information with his biographer, with whom he was having an affair. 

In that case, however, the FBI had evidence that Petraeus knew the information was highly classified. Petraeus eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified information.

Republican lawmakers have called for an independent investigation of Clinton, saying they do not trust the Justice Department to handle the inquiry with impartiality.

Republican criticism of the process heated up after Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, met privately with Attorney General Lynch in Phoenix last week. Lynch, who was appointed by Obama, later said she regretted the meeting and said she and Bill Clinton did not discuss the investigation.

House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, the highest ranking elected Republican, said Comey's announcement “defies explanation.”

“Based upon the director's own statement, it appears damage is being done to the rule of law. Declining to prosecute Secretary Clinton for recklessly mishandling and transmitting national security information will set a terrible precedent,” Ryan said.

“The American people will reject this troubling pattern of dishonesty and poor judgment,” he said.

Would-be Miami synagogue bomber reportedly was Muslim convert, wanted to inspire other attacks


The South Florida man arrested for planning to bomb a Miami synagogue has been publicly identified and charged in federal court.

James Gonzalo Medina, 40, of Hollywood, appeared in court in Miami on Monday afternoon, several media outlets reported.

Medina, who according to court papers is a convert to Islam, was arrested on a charge of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction in an attempt to blow up the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center during Friday night services, the last night of Passover. The Conservative synagogue has about 800 member families and houses an early childhood center, according to its website.

Local 10 News reported that the criminal complaint also accuses Medina of planning to attack the synagogue on Yom Kippur. Medina told a confidential informant more than once that he planned to strike during Yom Kippur using AK-47 assault rifles, Local 10 said, citing the complaint. When the informant told Medina the attack might look as if it were orchestrated by the Islamic State, Medina expressed pleasure, believing it would “inspire other Muslims to attack as well.”

Asked by the FBI informant why he wanted to attack the synagogue, Medina said it was his “call of duty” and something he had to do “for the glory of Allah,” the complaint said, according to the Washington Post. Medina also told the informant he believed “Jewish people are the ones causing the world’s wars and conflicts.”

According to the Sun Sentinel, Medina tried to make a speech during his court appearance, but was stopped by U.S. Magistrate Judge William Turnoff after saying, “I’ve got a few words of my own. … My name is James Medina, aka James Mohammed.”

Prosecutor Marc Anton told the judge that Medina talked about “obtaining a bomb he could either place under a car or throw it over the wall.”

After the undercover informant provided Medina with what he said was an explosive device, the FBI arrested Medina on his way to the synagogue. The device was not real, authorities said.

Medina is being detained at the Federal Detention Center in Miami and will remain there until at least Thursday, the day of his arraignment and bond hearing.

If convicted, Medina faces a maximum penalty of life in federal prison, according to the Sun Sentinel. He has not indicated whether he will plead innocent or guilty.

In a statement published in the Sun Sentinel, the synagogue said its leadership “has been briefed by law enforcement and Jewish community security officials” and been assured “that the synagogue and school were never at risk at any time during the investigation and arrest, and that there are no credible threats directed against us at the present time.”

The synagogue and an affiliated school were operating as normal Monday.

Medina has several prior arrests, including one for sending violent threats via text message. He said in court that he is out of work, divorced and has no significant assets. He was provided a court-appointed lawyer.

U.S. drops legal action against Apple over encrypted iPhone


The Justice Department said it successfully accessed data stored on an encrypted iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters and asked a court to withdraw an order compelling Apple to assist, according to a court filing on Monday.

The technology company fought a court order obtained by the FBI last month that required it to write new software to disable passcode protection and allow access to the phone used by one of the shooters, Rizwan Farook.

Apple declined immediate comment on Monday.

U.S. officials said last week that they were hopeful they would be able to unlock the iPhone without help from Apple.

In a two-page court filing on Monday, the Justice Department said the government “no longer requires” Apple's assistance.

At issue was a county-owned iPhone used by Farook, one of the husband-and-wife shooters in the San Bernardino, California, shooting in December in which 14 people were killed and 22 wounded. The couple died in a shootout with police after the rampage.

Israeli firm helping FBI to open encrypted iPhone


Israel's Cellebrite, a provider of mobile forensic software, is helping the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation's attempt to unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, California shooters, the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported on Wednesday.

If Cellebrite succeeds, then the FBI will no longer need the help of Apple Inc, the Israeli daily said, citing unnamed industry sources.

Cellebrite officials declined to comment on the matter.

Apple is engaged in a legal battle with the U.S. Justice Department over a judge's order that it write new software to disable passcode protection on the iPhone used by the shooter.

The two sides were set to face off in court on Tuesday, but on Monday a federal judge agreed to the government's request to postpone the hearing after U.S. prosecutors said a “third party” had presented a possible method for opening an encrypted iPhone.

The development could bring an abrupt end to the high-stakes legal showdown which has become a lightning rod for a broader debate on data privacy in the United States.

Cellebrite, a subsidiary of Japan's Sun Corp, has its revenue split between two businesses: a forensics system used by law enforcement, military and intelligence that retrieves data hidden inside mobile devices and technology for mobile retailers.

U.S. asks to cancel Apple encryption hearing, may be able to access device


Prosecutors on Monday asked a federal judge to cancel a Tuesday hearing in their legal battle to force Apple Inc to break into an encrypted iPhone, stating that they may have found another way to access the device, according to a court filing.

The judge in the case, being handled in federal court in Riverside, California, scheduled a hearing for late afternoon on Monday to consider the request.

The unexpected development in the high-profile case raised questions as to whether the Justice Department might be backing off from its confrontation with Apple. 

In a court filing, the Justice Department said the new technique came to light on Sunday, but it provided no further details. 

The government has obtained a court order requiring Apple to write new software to disable passcode protections on a phone used by one of the shooters in the December attack in San Bernardino, California. 

Apple, with the backing of much of the tech industry, is fighting the order, contending that it will undermine computer security and privacy for all consumers.

Appellate judge Kelly considered for Supreme Court


The White House is vetting federal appellate Judge Jane Kelly for a possible U.S. Supreme Court nomination to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, the New York Times reported on Wednesday, citing a person with knowledge of the process.

The FBI has been conducting background interviews on Kelly, the Times said, citing the unnamed source. Scalia, a long-serving conservative justice, died on Feb. 13.

The White House declined to comment on the report.

Kelly, a white woman and former public defender, has served on the St. Louis-based 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals since April 2013. She was confirmed to the post by the Senate on a 96-0 vote.

She had been mentioned by legal experts as a potential nominee in part because her earlier nomination to the appeals court was supported by Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee that would review any Supreme Court nomination.

Grassley said at the time that Kelly was “well regarded in my home state of Iowa” and that he was “pleased to support” her nomination.

Kelly, 51, served as a clerk for now-retired Judge David Hansen, a friend of Grassley who served on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Republican leaders have so far rebuffed President Barack Obama's appeal to hold confirmation hearings and a vote on a nominee, including in a face-to-face meeting on Tuesday at the White House that failed to budge them from their vow to block anyone he offers for the job.

Republicans say the decision on who to nominate should be left to the next president, who takes office next January after the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election. Republicans hope to win back the White House then.

Under the U.S. Constitution, the president nominates Supreme Court justices and the Senate must confirm them. Without Scalia, the court has four conservative and four liberal justices, meaning any potential Obama nominee could tip the court to the left for the first time in decades.

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, a moderate Republican, took himself out of consideration for appointment to the Supreme Court last week, a day after his name surfaced in connection with the Scalia vacancy.

FBI versus Apple: The privacy threat is overblown


Fourteen killed; 22 seriously injured; the presumptive plot leader, Syed Rizwan Farook, dead; the remaining contents of Farook’s county-issued cellphone inaccessible to those investigating the details of the terrorist rampage that struck the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino on Dec. 2. These are the facts that should matter most to those assessing the reasonableness of U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym’s Feb. 16 “Order Compelling Apple, Inc. to Assist Agents in Search.”

[The FBI and Apple: It’s not just about one phone]

Unfortunately, much of the ensuing controversy has focused on extraneous issues and false assertions intended to scare the public into believing that their personal privacy is at stake — and, perhaps not incidentally, to preserve Apple’s pre-eminent position in the cellphone marketplace. Instead of arousing alarmist suspicions that Big Brother has arrived 32 years after George Orwell’s prediction, let’s look at some facts.

1. Apple Can Comply With the Court’s Order

In the final paragraph of its Feb. 17 editorial supporting Apple, the Los Angeles Times grudgingly conceded, “At least one security expert who’s worked on the iPhone says that it’s technically possible to do what the judge has ordered.” Yet, in October 2015, Apple told another judge in New York that it “would not have the ability to do what the government requests — take possession of a password-protected device from the government and extract unencrypted user data from that device for the government.” 

Apple CEO Tim Cook’s Feb. 16 “Message to Our Customers” strongly implies that the company’s earlier judicial representations were at least hyperbolic, if not duplicitous. Cook’s new party line is that “the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create.” Note carefully that Apple is no longer asserting any technical inability (a claim that may apply to models more recent than the iPhone 5C Farook was using), but rather that there are no guarantees against multiple future uses of a program which would disable the 5C’s feature that erases all phone data after 10 unsuccessful attempts to break the password.

2. The Floodgates Fallacy

The principal thrust of Cook’s message to Apple’s customers is that the barn door cannot be closed after the horse has escaped. “Once the information is known, or a way to bypass the code is revealed,” Cook wrote, “the encryption can be defeated by anyone with that knowledge.” Perhaps so. But what Cook conveniently ignores is that Apple itself controls the barn door.

Judge Pym’s order asks only for “Apple’s reasonable technical assistance” to defeat the phone’s 10-tries-and-erase feature. Her order suggests one technical means for accomplishing this goal, but clearly specifies that Apple is free to use “an alternate technological means from that recommended by the government” and can ask the court for relief if “Apple believes that compliance with this Order would be unduly burdensome.”

Moreover, nothing in Judge Pym’s order states, or even suggests, that Apple must relinquish control of the program it is being asked to create. Indeed, the order provides that such a program can be loaded on Farook’s phone “at either a government facility, or alternatively, at an Apple facility.” Thus, if the horse were to escape, it would be no one’s fault other than Apple. However, I am quite confident that Apple has all the knowledge, wherewithal and human/financial resources to prevent this from happening.

In addition, there is nothing inherently dangerous about the prospect that other crimes might be solved if the same decryption program were used on other iPhones. On Feb. 18, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. told a news conference that there are presently 175 Apple devices in his cybercrime lab that investigators cannot access. So long as judges are presented and act upon adequate and reliable evidence when asked to issue phone decryption warrants, prisoners will no longer be able to characterize iPhone encryption as “another gift from God,” as one New York city jail inmate reportedly did. And should Apple cater to the access demands of repressive foreign regimes, it would be because they chose to — not because they were forced to.

3. The Dead Have No Privacy Rights Over Phones They Don’t Own

Much of the discussion about “privacy rights” in the context of this high-profile dispute ignores two salient facts. First, as a matter of law, the dead have no privacy rights — whether they are criminals, criminal suspects or ordinary citizens. Just as one who is deceased can no longer bring a claim for defamation (libel or slander), so too do all personal privacy rights evaporate the instant one dies.

Second, even if Farook were able to assert a privacy interest from beyond the grave, the phone in question is the property of the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health, and the county long ago gave the Federal Bureau of Investigation permission to search it.

4. The All Writs Act Kerfuffle

Apple CEO Cook’s message castigates the federal government for “an unprecedented use” of the All Writs Act of 1789 to effect its goal of defeating the 10-tries-and-erase feature of Farook’s phone. Yet, this same law has been invoked to obtain warrants that yielded information in similar cases — including, in recent years, roughly 70 from Apple itself. The act merely provides that the government cannot require someone to undertake overly onerous actions to assist in executing a search warrant — hence, the “unreasonably burdensome” exception in Judge Pym’s order.

And if the concern is that a law dating back more than 200 years is unsuited for today’s technological age, will Apple refrain from invoking the First Amendment (ratified in 1791) whenever it claims, in this case or elsewhere, that its corporate free speech rights are imperiled?

5. An Unnecessary Public Spat

Perhaps the most unfortunate fact about this melodrama is that it took a court order based upon a judicial warrant to bring this issue to a head. Apple and the FBI could have, and should have, resolved this dispute quietly and privately, without need of any judicial intervention. 

At a Feb. 9 congressional hearing, FBI Director James Comey testified that such efforts had already been underway for “over two months.” And, on Feb. 18, The Wall Street Journal reported that “Justice Department officials had even considered filing court papers against Apple a month earlier, only to hold off in the hope of gaining more cooperation.”

At this point, it is too early to tell with certainty which party’s intransigence was the proximate cause of this impasse. However, now that Apple has engaged the services of Ted Olson, the former U.S. Solicitor General who successfully represented George W. Bush in the 2000 election litigation against Al Gore and challenged California’s anti-marriage equality Proposition 8, we can now rest assured that the public profile of this litigation will only continue to escalate.


Douglas Mirell is an attorney and a founding partner of Harder Mirell & Abrams LLP. His practice focuses on privacy rights, defamation, publicity rights, copyright, trademark and First Amendment litigation. He can be reached at dmirell@hmafirm.com.

The FBI and Apple: It’s not just about one phone


The tragedy in San Bernardino has launched an increasingly intense public debate about where the line should be drawn to protect citizens’ digital data from government intrusion. Those horrific shootings left the nation stunned, and the U.S. government should thoroughly investigate this terrorist attack.

But in its search for more information, how far should the government be allowed to go in compelling a company to create something it does not possess?

At issue is an iPhone used by one of the shooters and the encrypted data it contains. The FBI has obtained a court order directing Apple to hack into its iPhones by designing and writing custom software to defeat the phone’s security features.

[The FBI versus Apple: analyzing the claims]

Apple has cooperated with the investigation for the most part, but it has refused the FBI’s demand that it design and write what amounts to malware designed to defeat the security systems it has spent years building. The company has decided to fight the court order, and it should be applauded for standing up for its right to offer secure devices to all of its customers.

So this debate then is not simply about one phone. It is about every phone. And it’s about every device manufactured by a U.S. company in the ever-growing “Internet of Things.”

If the government gets its way, then every device — your mobile phone, tablet or laptop — will carry with it an implicit warning from its manufacturer: “Sorry, but we might be forced to hack you.”

As Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a congressional leader on privacy and technology, has stated, “If upheld, this decision could force U.S. technology companies to actually build hacking tools for government against their will, while weakening cybersecurity for millions of Americans in the process.”

One concern is government overreach. The government isn’t just asking Apple to give them access to documents or programs that already exist. Instead, the government is using a 227-year-old law, the All Writs Act, to order Apple to spend time and resources coming up with a new technology that Apple doesn’t want to work on — code to hack its own phones.

However, the All Writs Act does not permit the government to obtain an order compelling assistance by a party that does not have possession or control of the information the government seeks.

The court order risks setting a dangerous precedent. If the FBI can force Apple to hack into its customers’ devices, then so too can every repressive regime in the rest of the world. If the government demonstrates that it can compel Apple to break its own security in this way, the next demands may well come from China, and the next targets will be dissidents, not criminal suspects.

Of course, historically, the government has sought and obtained assistance from tech companies and others in criminal investigations — but only in obtaining information or evidence the companies already have access to.

So much is at stake. And so much surrounding this case is misunderstood.

One argument is that Apple has unlocked 70 phones in investigations of other crimes. That is simply not true. Apple has extracted data from phones using earlier software without unlocking them. It has helped the government recover data in criminal investigations, but it has not created new code to defeat the security systems — code that would make all Apple customers less secure.

The company has not been able to extract data tied to a passcode since September, 2014, when its iOS 8 operating system was introduced. Apple no longer has a way of breaking into its customers’ mobile devices.

As Apple CEO Tim Cook has said, “We have even put that data out of our own reach, because we believe the contents of your iPhone are none of our business.”

Another misconception is that Apple could develop a dedicated program that would work only on the phone the FBI has seized. That risk might appear acceptable to some if it were possible to limit access to legitimate governmental purposes overseen by a judge.

But Apple’s Cook notes that so-called backdoors are inherently dangerous. “Once the information is known,” he says, “or a way to bypass the code is revealed, the encryption can be defeated by anyone with that knowledge.”

Once the code is bypassed, that knowledge becomes a genie that cannot be put back in the bottle.

For the government, every “Internet of Things” device will be more than just a novel convenience — it will be a new window into your home. The fridge that responds to your verbal commands might have a backdoor to allow for remote listening. The TV that enables you to video chat with your family might be commandeered into a ready-made spy camera.

The security of data and safety of users everywhere isn’t worth sacrificing to a possible lead in any one case, no matter how important.


Hector Villagra is executive director of the ACLU of Southern California.

After San Bernardino shooting, Apple opposes FBI demands to unlock phone


Apple Inc opposed a court ruling on Tuesday that ordered it to help the FBI break into an iPhone recovered from a San Bernardino shooter, heightening a dispute between tech companies and law enforcement over the limits of encryption.

Chief Executive Tim Cook said the court's demand threatened the security of Apple's customers and had “implications far beyond the legal case at hand.” 

Earlier on Tuesday, Judge Sheri Pym of U.S. District Court in Los Angeles said that Apple must provide “reasonable technical assistance” to investigators seeking to unlock the data on an iPhone 5C that had been owned by Syed Rizwan Farook.

That assistance includes disabling the phone's auto-erase function, which activates after 10 consecutive unsuccessful passcode attempts, and helping investigators to submit passcode guesses electronically.

Federal prosecutors requested the court order to compel Apple to assist the investigation into the Dec. 2 shooting rampage by Farook and his wife, killing 14 and injuring 22 others. The two were killed in a shootout with police.

The FBI has been investigating the couple's potential communications with Islamic State and other militant groups.

“Apple has the exclusive technical means which would assist the government in completing its search, but has declined to provide that assistance voluntarily,” prosecutors said.

U.S. government officials have warned that the expanded use of strong encryption is hindering national security and criminal investigations.

Technology experts and privacy advocates counter that forcing U.S. companies to weaken their encryption would make private data vulnerable to hackers, undermine the security of the Internet and give a competitive advantage to companies in other countries.

In a letter to customers posted on Apple's website, Cook said the FBI wanted the company “to build a backdoor to the iPhone” by making a new version of the iPhone operating system that would circumvent several security features.

“The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers – including tens of millions of American citizens – from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals,” Cook said.

He said Apple was “challenging the FBI's demands” and that it would be “in the best interest of everyone to step back and consider the implications.”

In a similar case last year, Apple told a federal judge in New York that it was “impossible” for the company to unlock its devices that run an operating system of iOS 8 or higher.

According to prosecutors, the phone belonging to Farook ran on iOS 9.

Prosecutors said Apple could still help investigators by disabling “non-encrypted barriers that Apple has coded into its operating system.”

Apple and Google both adopted strong default encryption in late 2014, amid growing digital privacy concerns spurred in part by the leaks from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Forensics expert Jonathan Zdziarski said on Tuesday that Apple might have to write custom code to comply with the order, presenting a novel question to the court about whether the government could order a private company to hack its own device.

Zdziarski said that, because the San Bernardino shooting was being investigated as a terrorism case, investigators would be able to work with the NSA and the CIA on cracking the phone.

Those U.S. intelligence agencies could likely break the iPhone's encryption without Apple's involvement, he said.

FBI launches Persian Facebook page to collect Levinson leads


The FBI reportedly launched a Persian-language Facebook page in an effort to collect tips from Iranians on the disappearance of Robert Levinson.

The page looking for leads on Levinson, a Jewish-American who went missing in 2007, went live in recent weeks, The Associated Press reported Monday. Pages also are planned in Arabic and Urdu, according to the AP.

Levinson, 68, of Coral Springs, Florida, is a private detective and former FBI agent who has been missing since disappearing from Iran’s Kish Island during what has since been revealed as a rogue CIA operation. For years it had been reported that he was working as a private investigator when he disappeared.

Levinson was not included in a prisoner exchange of five Americans with Iran last month that came as the United Nations nuclear watchdog confirmed Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal and the West rolled back sanctions. Following the swap, the White House said Levinson may no longer be in Iran.

The FBI is offering a reward of $5 million for information that could lead to Levinson’s safe return.

Oregon occupation leader Bundy urges remaining protesters to go home


The leader of a month-long armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon on Wednesday urged remaining protesters to leave the site and go home, a day after his arrest and the death of a supporter.

Ammon Bundy, who was taken into custody with several members of his group at a traffic stop along Highway 395, north of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeast Oregon, urged federal authorities to let his comrades leave the compound without being prosecuted. 

“To those remaining at the refuge, I love you. Let us take this fight from here. Please stand down… Please go home,” Bundy said in a statement read by his attorney, Michael Arnold, following a court hearing. 

A total of eight occupiers had left the compound by late on Wednesday and three were arrested, including Jason Patrick, who had been with Bundy's group in Oregon since the beginning and was acting as a spokesman for the holdouts, the FBI said in a statement.

It was unclear how many people remained inside the refuge.

Brandon Curtiss, a member of the Pacific Patriots Network, which has been acting as an intermediary between law enforcement and Bundy's supporters, said the FBI informed him of Patrick's arrest. 

The three taken into custody face a federal charge of felony conspiracy to impede federal officers.

Patrick told Reuters by telephone on Wednesday that some protesters were leaving, but rejected the word “surrender.”

“I don't know what surrendering looks like,” he said. “They're walking through the checkpoint and going home. That's what I've heard unless I'm being lied to.” 

Citing the investigation, authorities declined to say what led to the fatal shooting of a member of Bundy's group, identified by activists as Robert LaVoy Finicum, a rancher who acted as a spokesman for the occupiers. Bundy's brother, Ryan, was wounded during the traffic stop.

The protesters were each charged in U.S. District Court in Portland with conspiracy to use force, intimidation or threats to impede federal officers from discharging their duties.

The defendants were ordered held without bail until a detention hearing set for Friday.

The Malheur takeover, which started on Jan. 2 with at least a dozen armed men, was a flare-up in the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion, a decades-old conflict over federal control of millions of acres in the West. 

'THIS CAN'T HAPPEN IN AMERICA'

At a news conference earlier in the day, state and federal authorities pleaded with the remaining occupiers to quit their protest, saying they were free to leave.

“Let me be clear: It is the actions and choices of the armed occupiers of the refuge that have led us to where we are today,” said Greg Bretzing, special agent in charge of the FBI's office in Portland. “They had ample opportunity to leave the refuge peacefully and as the FBI and our partners have clearly demonstrated, actions are not without consequences.”

Federal officials say they had probable cause to arrest Finicum, who told NBC News earlier this month that he would rather die than be detained.

At the same news conference, Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward, his voice breaking, said, “I'm disappointed that a traffic stop yesterday that was supposed to bring peaceful resolution to this ended badly. Multiple law enforcement agencies put a lot of work into putting together the best tactical plan they could, to take these guys down peacefully.

“This can't happen anymore. This can't happen in America and it can't happen in Harney County,” Ward added.

Reactions to the takeover from residents in Burns, about 30 miles (48 km) from the refuge, have included sympathy for the imprisoned local ranchers whose plight began the protest, to distrust of the federal government, and dismay at the armed occupation by individuals seen as outsiders.

Many residents said an armed protest was taking legitimate grievances too far, and leaders of a Native American tribe have urged the occupiers to leave, saying they were scaring the community and that the protesters' ignorance of the region's real history was offensive.

California shooters discussed martyrdom before meeting


A couple who massacred 14 people at a California holiday party were discussing martyrdom online a year before they met in person and married, FBI Director James Comey said on Wednesday.

Investigators were tracing the radicalization of Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 29, who married in 2014, and evidence mounted that both were interested in Islamist-inspired violence before they became acquainted. 

“They were actually radicalized before they started … dating each other online, and as early as the end of 2013 they were talking to each other about jihad and martyrdom before they became engaged,” Comey said at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

A U.S. government source said Farook may have been plotting an attack as early as 2011. This diminishes the likelihood of early theories after the Dec. 2 shootings in California that Malik had radicalized her husband. Twenty-one people were also wounded in the attack.

Classifying the massacre as a terrorist act, the Federal Bureau of Investigation believes that the couple, who were killed in a shootout with police a few hours after their attack on Farook's San Bernardino County co-workers at the party, were inspired by foreign terrorist organizations. 

Comey said it would be “very, very important to know” if their marriage had been arranged by a militant group as a way to carry out attacks in the United States, although he said there was no evidence yet indicating that. 

The investigation of Farook, who was born in Illinois to Pakistani immigrants, and Malik, who was born in Pakistan and lived most of her life in Saudi Arabia, is looking into his relationship with his boyhood friend Enrique Marquez.

According to media reports, Marquez had converted to Islam a few years ago and was connected to Farook's family by marriage. 

A government source said Farook may have planned an attack in 2011 or 2012 but did not follow through.

The source gave no details, but CNN cited two U.S. officials as saying Farook and an unnamed second person selected a target but abandoned their plan after terror-related arrests in the area. Fox News reported Marquez told investigators about the aborted plot.

The San Bernardino Sun newspaper quoted investigation sources as saying multiple photographs of Carter High School in Rialto, California were found on Farook's phone.

WEAPONS PURCHASE

The FBI said that in 2011 or 2012 Marquez legally bought the AR-15 assault-style rifles that Farook and Malik used in their attack on the San Bernardino party. A government source familiar with the investigation said authorities were trying to determine if Farook had asked Marquez to buy the weapons so as not to draw attention to himself.

Marquez, who worked at a Walmart Supercenter in Corona, California, has not been arrested in the case, but he was questioned by the FBI on Tuesday and his family home was raided over the weekend.

Marquez checked himself into a Los Angeles-area psychiatric facility soon after the shooting.

State documents showed that last year Marquez married Mariya Chernykh, whose sister is married to Farook's brother, Syed Raheel Farook, a U.S. Navy veteran. 

It could not be immediately determined if Marquez lived with his wife. The New York Times reported that he split his time between his family's home and that of a girlfriend. Gasser Shehati, a friend of Farook's from a San Bernardino mosque, said Farook told him several years ago that Marquez had converted to Islam.

On his marriage certificate, Marquez and his wife listed their religious society/denomination as Islamic Society of Corona/Norco.

In a Facebook posting before the attack, Malik pledged loyalty to Islamic State, the militant group that has taken over parts of Iraq and Syria. Coupled with Islamic State attacks in Paris in November that killed 130 people, the San Bernardino assault has elevated concerns about security and immigration in the United States.

VISA QUESTION

Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee grilled Comey about the attack and criticized the Obama administration's response to the militant group Islamic State. If the SanBernardino shooters are proven to have been inspired by Islamic militants, theirs would be the largest such attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001.

The committee's chairman, Republican Senator Charles Grassley, said the San Bernardino shootings had shown Obama to be “spectacularly wrong” about the security of the U.S. visa screening process since Malik arrived in the United States on a K-1 fiancée visa on which he said she listed a false address.

“Our government apparently didn't catch the false address in Pakistan that she listed on her application,” Grassley said.

Comey said in response to a question that he has no reason to believe Islamic State already has cells in the United States.

“They are trying to motivate people already in the United States to become killers on their behalf and they would very much like to – as they aspire to be the leader in the global jihad – send people here to conduct attacks,” Comey said. 

He said the latter scenario “has not been seen yet.”

FBI investigating California massacre as ‘act of terrorism’


The FBI is investigating this week's massacre of 14 people by a married couple in California as an “act of terrorism,” officials said on Friday, noting that the female shooter had pledged allegiance to a leader of the militant group Islamic State.

Tashfeen Malik, 27, a native of Pakistan who lived in Saudi Arabia for more than 20 years, and her U.S.-born husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, were killed in a shootout with police hours after the Wednesday attack during a holiday party at the Inland Regional Center social services agency in San Bernardino, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles.

If the investigation does prove that the attack was the work of people inspired by Islamist militants, it would be the deadliest such attack in the United States since Sept. 11, 2001.

Malik had pledged allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in an online post, David Bowdich, assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Los Angeles office, said at a news conference.

“Based on the information and the facts as we know them, we are now investigating these horrific acts as an act of terrorism,” Bowdich said.

Asked about a reported Facebook post by Malik on the day of the attack pledging loyalty to Islamic State, Bowdich said, “Yes, there was a pledge of allegiance.” 

But a U.S. government official said there was no evidence that Islamic State even knew who the shooters were.

Islamic State, which has seized large parts of Syria and Iraq, took claim for the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris in which gunmen and suicide bombers killed 130.

Farook family attorneys said there was no evidence that either suspect had been associated with any terrorist group. 

They said Farook was an isolated individual with few friends, and there was no evidence that either suspect had extremist views. 

The family was aware that Farook owned two handguns and said coworkers had made fun of his beard, the attorneys said.

The family described Malik as a “caring, soft-spoken” housewife.

NO SIGNS OF A CELL

The couple had two assault-style rifles, two semi-automatic handguns, 6,100 rounds of ammunition and 12 pipe bombs in their home or with them when they were killed, officials said.

“The investigation so far has delivered indications of radicalization by the killers and of potential inspiration by foreign terrorist organizations,” Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey told reporters in Washington. “We have no indication that these killers are part of an organized larger group or form part of a cell. There is no indication that they are part of a network.”

Bowdich also said the FBI was examining crushed cellphones found near the shooting scene.

The couple may have been planning an additional attack, he added.

Farook, born in Illinois to Pakistani immigrant parents, worked as an inspector for the San Bernardino County Department of Environment Health, the agency whose holiday party he and Malik are accused of attacking on Wednesday.

Investigators are looking into a report that Farook had an argument with a co-worker who denounced the “inherent dangers of Islam” prior to the shooting, a U.S. government source said.

The couple's landlord in the town of Redlands opened their townhouse to media on Friday, leading to a flurry of reporters and camera crews surveying the scene. The landlord later asked media to leave.

The FBI's search of the home turned up no evidence to suggest they had been working with any foreign militant group, a U.S. government source said.

PROBE EXTENDS TO PAKISTAN

Pakistani intelligence officials have contacted Malik's family in her homeland as part of the investigation, a family member said. 

“I only found out about this tragedy today when some intelligence officials contacted me to ask me about my links with Tashfeen,” Malik's uncle, Javed Rabbani, said in an interview. “I had heard in the news that this tragedy had taken place but I could never even imagine that it would be someone from my family. Of course, we are in shock.”

He said his brother, Malik's father, had become considerably more conservative since moving with his family to Saudi Arabia a quarter century ago. 

Tashfeen Malik had not come to the attention of authorities while living in Saudi Arabia, according to a source close to the Saudi government. She had moved back to Pakistan five or six years ago to study pharmacy, Pakistani officials said.

Christian Nwadike, who worked with Farook for five years, told CBS that his co-worker had been different since he returned from Saudi Arabia.

“I think he married a terrorist,” Nwadike said.

Twenty-one people were wounded in the attack, the worst gun violence in the nation since the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. 

Farook had not been under surveillance by the FBI or any other law enforcement agency, Bowdich said, adding that there was no evidence that additional threats lingered following the shooting.

What to know about Jonathan Pollard’s upcoming release


Jonathan Pollard, the American spy for Israel sentenced to life in prison in 1987, is due to be released on parole on Saturday, 30 years after his arrest.

The former U.S. Navy analyst’s exit from a federal prison in Butner, North Carolina (where he reportedly befriended Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff), follows three decades of intrigue that have included charges of anti-Semitism against top U.S. officials, allegations that Pollard offered his services to other countries and his becoming a card in Middle East peace talks.

While those close to Pollard, 61, say security considerations keep them from revealing details of his release — and U.S. government officials are not returning calls about it — an examination of recent interviews with Pollard’s lawyers reveals some tangible details about the life Pollard will lead outside of the prison walls.

Pollard could be out by Shabbat.

According to the website of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Pollard is slated to be released on Nov. 21. But that falls on a Saturday – Shabbat – and Pollard is now a Sabbath observer. Pollard’s lawyers have suggested in interviews that they have secured the parole commission’s agreement to allow Pollard to leave the day before.

His dream is to make aliyah.

Eliot Lauer, a Pollard lawyer, told the Israeli daily Yedioth Acharonot last month that Pollard’s dream is to immigrate to Israel. But he’ll need President Barack Obama’s say-so, and that’s not happening in the near term.

“The president has the authority, as a goodwill gesture, to limit the sentence to 30 years and thereby end it completely, allowing Pollard to become a free man and to fulfill the dream he has told me about many times — to make aliyah to Israel,” Lauer said.

On Monday, two Jewish congressmen from New York — Reps. Eliot Engel and Jerrold Nadler, both Democrats — wrote to Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney general, saying Pollard was ready to give up his U.S. citizenship in order to be allowed to travel immediately to Israel.

In a separate interview this month, Lauer told the Times of Israel that Pollard “wants to make a contribution” to Israel. “He has a lot of significant ideas.”

In any case, Pollard’s Israel plans will likely have to wait, given the parole commission’s restrictions on his movements and requirements that he report to a probation officer for at least a year.

Pollard has a job.

Pollard’s lawyers said in July that they had “secured employment and housing for Mr. Pollard in the New York area.” Lauer, in an email to JTA, declined to be more specific. The New York Observer reported last week, quoting “sources,” that Pollard would live in Manhattan.

More recently, Lauer told the Times of Israel that the “Orthodox or semi-Orthodox community” has been most helpful in securing employment and residence for Pollard while he is in New York.

Whatever Pollard does, it will not be too strenuous. He has endured multiple hospital visits in recent years, at times to address kidney and liver ailments, according to his supporters. (A Knesset bill under consideration would have Israel paying for his medical and residential expenses, as well as providing him with a monthly stipend, The Jerusalem Post reported earlier this month.)

He is remarried.

Pollard and his second wife, Esther, will enjoy freedom together for the first time. Pollard divorced his first wife, Anne, who served three years on the espionage charges, in part so she could forge a new and separate life. He married Esther, a Canadian who had been advocating for his release, in 1994, his ninth year in prison.

There’s no love lost between Pollard and Jewish communal leaders.

Though he’s looking forward to being active in the “Jewish community,” he’ll likely steer clear of mainstream Jewish communal officials.

“During the course of this initiative, we got to know an awful lot of Jewish leaders here in the United States,” Pollard told journalist Edwin Black in an extensive 2002 interview. “And they seem to fall into one of several groups in their response to me. Some ran away from it … others promised to do things but basically didn’t … and others did harm.”

The feeling is mutual. Pollard has alleged that his interrogators asked him to implicate a list of American Jewish leaders in his espionage; he refused to do so. The Jewish leaders told Black they believed the list was Pollard’s invention, a ploy to stir sympathy for his cause.

Competing narratives will endure …

Don’t expect the competing narratives between Pollard’s defenders and accusers to be reconciled. Was Pollard a reluctant recruit driven to divulge to Israel a narrow set of data that would save Jewish lives but that the Americans, despite pledges to share such information, were keeping secret? Or was he, as his accusers have charged, greedy, delivering mountains of documents to Israel in exchange for a lavish lifestyle, and peddling his services to other nations, including apartheid South Africa? But the terms of Pollard’s parole will likely keep him quiet.

… And so, too, will the rancor.

When it comes to “with us or against us,” Pollard and his defenders make George W. Bush look like a pushover. For a time, the Washington Post reported in 1998, Pollard cut off his family, despite their years of dedication to his release. He has alienated some of his most ardent supporters. And pity the journalists who stray even slightly from their narrative that Pollard is a heroic victim of a massive injustice – the recriminations come fast and furious.

Pity also David Luchins, the much-lauded longtime Orthodox Jewish activist who in 1993 organized an appeal to President Bill Clinton to commute Pollard’s sentence. The appeal included a letter of remorse from Pollard, in which Pollard admitted that his crimes had violated not just U.S. but Jewish law. Pollard, according to Black, later had regrets about the admission, and Pollard’s followers blamed Luchins. Black reported that Luchins suffered death threats and required federal protection for a period.

Pollard’s accusers at times, too, seem susceptible to a delusional apoplexy.

Seymour Hersh, writing for the New Yorker on the case in 1999, probed intelligence officials to explain how they knew information Pollard handed Israel reached the Soviets. The officials acknowledged that they had no hard evidence, and the accusation — key to perceiving Pollard as someone who posed a threat to national security — seems more an article of faith than of fact.

Authorities search Indiana home of Subway pitchman Jared Fogle


Authorities searched the Indiana home of Subway sandwich chain pitchman Jared Fogle on Tuesday, about two months after the executive director of his foundation was arrested on federal child pornography charges.

Fogle, well known from his appearances on Subway television commercials, was seen for a time outside his home in Zionsville, a suburb northwest of Indianapolis, as law enforcement agents removed electronics from the house, local news outlet WTHR reported.

Fogle left his home in the upscale neighborhood around midday as the search continued, according to local media.

It was not clear whether Fogle, a father of two, is a target of what authorities have said is a joint investigation by local, state and federal law enforcement officials. Officials declined to comment about the activity at Fogle's home.

Fogle's attorney said Fogle has not been detained or arrested or charged “with any crime or offense.”

“Jared has been cooperating, and continues to cooperate, with law enforcement in their investigation of unspecified charges and looks forward to its conclusion,” attorney Ron Elberger said in a statement.

Two police cars were parked in front of the two-story white brick house and law enforcement officers could be seen going in and out of the building. A large white truck belonging to law enforcement was stationed in the driveway of Fogle's home.

Subway, a privately held company, issued a statement saying it was “shocked” by the news and believed it was related to the prior investigation of the former Jared Foundation figure.

“We are very concerned and will be monitoring the situation closely,” a Subway spokesman said. “We don't have any more details at this point.”

A neighbor who asked not to be identified by name said Fogle has lived in the home for about four years and that the family members generally keep to themselves.

The Indiana State Police assisted the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Indiana in the investigation, according to state police spokesman Sergeant Richard Myers.

Officials said the FBI and the U.S. Postal Service also were involved in the investigation.

Russell Taylor, the Jared Foundation's former executive director, was arrested on May 3 and charged with seven counts of production and one count of possession of child pornography.

Authorities said they found videos they believe Taylor produced by secretly filming minor children at this home. The investigators said they found more than 400 videos of alleged child pornography on computers and storage media recovered from Taylor's office in his Indianapolis home.

Fogle became a Subway spokesman after losing a reported 245 pounds (111 kg) in part by eating regularly at the sandwich chain. Fogle made his first Subway commercial in 2000 and appeared in a new one last year, according to the company's website.

South Carolina church shooting suspect got gun for birthday, uncle says


Dylann Roof, the man suspected of fatally shooting nine people at a historic African American church in South Carolina on Wednesday, was given a gun by his father as a 21st birthday present in April, his uncle told Reuters on Thursday.

Law enforcement officers were at the home of Roof's mother on Thursday morning, the uncle, Carson Cowles, said in a telephone interview.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation identified the gunman as Roof on Thursday.

Cowles said he recognized Roof in a photo released by police, and described him as quiet and soft-spoken. Roof's father gave him a .45-caliber pistol for his birthday this year, Cowles said.

“Nobody in my family had seen anything like this coming,” Cowles said. “I said, if it is him, and when they catch him, he's got to pay for this.”

He said he had told his sister, Roof's mother, several years ago that Roof was too introverted.

“I said he was like 19 years old, he still didn't have a job, a driver's license or anything like that and he just stayed in his room a lot of the time,” Cowles said.

A woman who answered the cellphone of the suspect's mother Amelia Roof, also known as Amy, declined to comment.

“We will be doing no interviews ever,” she said, before hanging up.

Blatter rocks world soccer by quitting FIFA amid scandal


Sepp Blatter rocked the world of soccer on Tuesday by unexpectedly quitting as FIFA president in the face of a corruption investigation that has plunged the game's governing body into the worst crisis in its history.

Blatter, 79, announced the decision at a hastily arranged news conference in Zurich, six days after the FBI raided a hotel in Zurich and arrested several FIFA officials and just four days after he was re-elected to a fifth term as president.

Blatter said an election to choose a new president for the deeply troubled organisation would be held as soon as possible. A FIFA official said that could happen any time from December this year to March of next year.

“FIFA needs profound restructuring,” said Blatter, a Swiss national who has been a dominating presence at FIFA for decades.

“I have thoroughly considered my presidency and thought about my presidency and the last 40 years of my life,” Blatter, speaking in French, told the news conference.

“I decided to stand again to be elected because I was convinced it was the best option for football.

“Although the members of FIFA gave me a new mandate, this mandate does not seem to be supported by everyone in the world.”

Blatter's decision was immediately welcomed by his most prominent critics.

European football federation chief Michel Platini, a French former international soccer star, said: “It was a difficult decision, a brave decision, and the right decision.”

Greg Dyke, chairman of the English Football Association, said it was “good news for world football.” He then asked: “Who got him? Who shot him? What happened between then (when he was elected) and now?”

“We haven't had a squeaky clean president for many, many years,” Dyke told Sky Sports.

FIFA, which Blatter had ruled since 1998, was left reeling this week by the announcement of a U.S. investigation into alleged widespread financial wrongdoing stretching back for more than two decades.

Swiss authorities also mounted their own criminal probe into the award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively.

The U.S. Justice Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney's office in Brooklyn had no immediate comment.

The office of the Swiss Attorney General, which is investigating alleged criminal mismanagement and money laundering at FIFA, said Blatter's resignation would have no effect on its proceedings. It said Blatter himself was not subject to investigation.

While Blatter was not mentioned in either the U.S. or Swiss investigations, there had been widespread calls for him to quit, mostly from Western nations. Some major sponsors also expressed misgivings about the impact of the scandal.

SCANDAL INTENSIFIES

The European Commission's spokeswoman for sport, Nathalie Vandystadt, said: “This is an important step but a lot of work remains. We now expect a long process of change that is needed to restore trust and set up a solid system of good governance at FIFA.”

Blatter had initially attempted to bat away the furore, relying on his extensive network of friends to hold on to power at FIFA.

Football associations in Africa and Asia had stood by him despite the scandal, saying they welcomed the FIFA funds he channelled to them for the development of the game in impoverished parts of the world.

The investigation however closed in on Blatter on Tuesday, when FIFA was forced to deny that his right-hand man, Secretary-General Jerome Valcke, was implicated in a $10 million payment that lies at the heart of the U.S. case.

But at the same time, a letter addressed to Valcke from the South African Football Association was published outlining the transaction.

Blatter became FIFA secretary general in 1981 and president 17 years later.

He survived a series of scandals including widespread accusations that Qatar bought the right to stage the 2022 World Cup in a country with little football history and where summer temperatures regularly top 40 degrees Celsius (104 F). Qatar has always denied any wrongdoing.

Despite calls for Blatter's resignation after what was described as the worst day in FIFA's history last Wednesday, when seven serving officials were arrested on bribery charges two days before the body's 2015 election, he told delegates then: “Football needs a strong and experienced leader. One that knows all the ins and outs and can work with our partners”.

Overcoming opposition from European soccer's governing body UEFA, which threatened at one point to boycott the Congress, he was elected for another four years. His fifth term lasted just four days.

FBI chief tells Poland’s U.S. envoy he regrets Holocaust remarks


The head of the U.S. intelligence service told the Polish ambassador to the United States that he regretted his remarks on what Poland has said was an accusation of complicity in the Holocaust, the Polish foreign ministry said on Thursday.

Poland now considers the matter settled, a spokesman for the foreign ministry said.

Poland is one of the United States' closest European allies, a relationship strengthened by the conflict in Ukraine and related tensions with Russia. Polish politicians have repeatedly called for an increased U.S. military presence in the region.

FBI director James Comey's remarks, published in the Washington Post last week, prompted an outcry in Poland and drew condemnation in the media and from politicians.

His article said: “In their minds, the murderers and accomplices of Germany, and Poland, and Hungary, and so many, many other places didn’t do something evil. They convinced themselves it was the right thing to do, the thing they had to do.”

Poland says the passage wrongly implied it was complicit in the Nazi genocide of European Jews during World War Two.

“I regret linking Germany and Poland, … because Poland was invaded and occupied byGermany,” Comey said in a letter to the Polish ambassador released by the foreign ministry.

“The Polish state bears no responsibility for the horrors imposed by the Nazis. I wish I had not used any other country names because my point was a universal one about human nature,” he said.

Earlier this week, the U.S. State Department spokeswoman said that Comey did not intend to suggest that Poland was responsible for the Holocaust during World War Two.

But when asked by ABC-affiliated broadcaster Wate 6 on Tuesday whether he wanted to apologize for his remarks, Comey said: “I don’t. Except I didn't say Poland was responsible for the Holocaust. In a way I wish very much that I hadn't mentioned any countries because it's distracted some folks from my point.”

This caused further outrage in Poland, prompting Polish officials to say that they were still expecting an apology from the U.S. side.

Mulder and Scully return as Fox TV revives ‘The X-Files’


Cult television thriller “The X-Files” will return for a limited series with David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson reprising their FBI agent roles, Fox Broadcasting network said on Tuesday.

“The X-Files,” which premiered on Fox in 1993, followed FBI special agents Fox Mulder (Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Anderson) as they investigated cases of the unexplained, UFOs and often paranormal phenomenon.

Scully was the logical, practical partner of Mulder, who believed that alien worlds could exist within the universe and constantly searched for the truth in government cover-ups and conspiracy theories.

The show created by Chris Carter became the longest-running sci-fi series in U.S. network TV history with nine seasons, concluding in 2002.

The new series will comprise six episodes, due to start production this summer. An air date has not yet been announced.

“I think of it as a 13-year commercial break,” Carter said in a statement. “The good news is the world has only gotten that much stranger, a perfect time to tell these six stories.”

“The X-Files” revival comes on the heels of Fox's recent programming hits with Batman prequel “Gotham” and hip hop drama “Empire.”

How much does it cost to watch a suspected militant? Lots.


In 2011, U.S. intelligence informed French authorities that a French citizen had slipped into Yemen, probably for terrorist training. In November, the French security services placed the man, Said Kouachi, under surveillance. They wiretapped his mobile phone, as well as that of his younger brother, Cherif. By the end of 2013, French intelligence had dropped its surveillance of Cherif, and Said's was terminated in mid-2014. After three years, the brothers, born to Algerian immigrants, were judged to be no longer dangerous.

On Jan. 7, however, the brothers, heavily armed and dressed in black, stormed the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper, and massacred 12 people. It happened at least partly because the French security services are unable to monitor all of France's suspected jihadists, even those considered high risk because they returned after fighting in Syria or Iraq.

The French experience demonstrates that tapping cellphones of terrorist suspects is not enough. Physical surveillance by humans is crucial. Because terrorists have learned to avoid phones. “The phone tapping yielded nothing,” Marc Trevidic, the chief terrorism investigator for the French judicial system, told The New York Times. “If we had continued, I'm convinced it wouldn't have changed anything. No one talks on the phone anymore.”

But physically monitoring suspects is an expensive and complicated proposition – in both money and manpower. A former French anti-terrorism official stated, “The system is overwhelmed.”

U.S. intelligence experts are well aware of the problems of mounting a 24/7 round-the-clock surveillance on suspects. “It's a manpower eater,” said Phillip A. Parker, a veteran former FBI counterintelligence agent, “and it takes away from other cases.”

To keep a target under continuous surveillance, according to one experienced FBI source who asked to remain anonymous, could require three eight-hour shifts or perhaps two 12-hour shifts, with four special agents each shift. Several cars would be needed, sometimes even airplanes. If only one car was used, the person might quickly realize he was being followed.

“If you are just sitting around in the street, somebody's going to notice you,” Parker explained. “If it's a real sensitive case, you just cannot be made. You would run five or six cars, maybe seven or eight. If you don't want any chance of the target making you, the average is three shifts, four guys to a shift, two cars – that's a minimum. Three shifts, so 12 agents. If it's a really important case, you could easily double that.” That minimum translates into 24 agents in three shifts of eight agents to keep watch on a single target.

Parker, who spent much of his career tracking Soviet and Russian spies, noted, “Most surveillance subjects are not moving more than a few hours a day. So you may also have to set up an OP [observation post],” often a house or apartment overlooking the target.

Just as the French services wiretapped the cellphones of the Paris terrorists, the FBI does not limit itself to physical surveillance of a subject. “You would also have technical means,” one surveillance specialist, who asked to remain anonymous, said. “If you run 24-hour surveillance, you have telephones, both cell and land lines, MISUR [microphone surveillance] and stationery lookouts.”

Agents might also lock onto the GPS of the suspect's car, to see where he or she is going. In one high-profile espionage case, the FBI placed radio receivers at fixed points around the Washington area and was also able to plant an electronic device in the suspect's car. When the target car passed by one of the receivers, the time and location were recorded. This setup was similar to the E-ZPass system, which is used by commuters to breeze through toll plazas without stopping.

With so much manpower required to monitor just one suspect, FBI supervisors often resist mounting a 24/7 surveillance. It takes away agents who might be working other cases. A smaller field office might not have enough agents.

Even FBI headquarters might need to scramble to find agents for a surveillance. One senior FBI official involved in the surveillance and eventual arrest of Aldrich Ames, the CIA officer who spied for Moscow, told me, “I was constantly asking for more resources.” Spies, he observed, “often use SDRs,” or surveillance detection routes. “They might drive around for four or five hours 'dry-cleaning' themselves” to try to lose their FBI pursuers.

Because of the FBI's reluctance to assign large numbers of agents to surveillance operations, the bureau also uses a Special Surveillance Group, known as “the G's.” These are not special agents, but members of a unit whose sole job is to track suspects. They are trained to look like anything except FBI agents. The G's may be dressed as joggers, cyclists, pizza-delivery men, mothers pushing strollers or street-repair workers wielding jackhammers. That scruffy guy on a skateboard, that hard-hat repairman up on a telephone pole, the street vendor selling hot dogs – all may be G's. They look, in other words, like ordinary citizens going about their business.

How much does a round-the-clock surveillance cost? Because FBI agents and G's are already on the FBI payroll, measuring the actual cost of a particular operation can be complicated. Though there is clearly a cost in manpower assigned to surveillance duties and so unavailable to other investigations.

Still, it is possible to estimate 24/7 surveillance costs by looking at the salaries of FBI agents and the number of hours involved. FBI salaries range widely, depending on grades and years of service. But a typical mid-range special agent earns roughly $64,000 a year, which translates into $1,230 a week. On a round-the-clock surveillance with 24 agents, that adds up to $29,500 a week in agent time – or almost $128,000 a month. Add in three rental cars, used in rotation to avoid notice, and it comes to roughly $30,700 a week. A major surveillance like this might last weeks or even months.

In 2011, the database had 420,000 names

More experienced agents can earn around $120,000 a year, so the totals could be a lot higher. As a result, it is not surprising that round-the-clock surveillances are not routine. Statistics show why. The FBI's Terrorist Screening Center, for example, maintains a “watch list” of alleged terrorist suspects. In 2011, the database had 420,000 names, according to a New York Times story, including some 8,000 Americans. About 16,000 people, including 500 Americans, were prohibited from flying. That list has been widely criticized for errors. But obviously – given the numbers – the FBI could not watch all the people on the database. And, thankfully, it doesn't.

Surveillance is a double-edged tool. Catching terrorists is vital to protect the country. But we also want to live in a society where liberty and security are balanced, and the government does not follow people around without good reason. From that perspective, the high cost and difficulty of maintaining a continuous surveillance on a suspect may not be entirely bad in a democracy.


David Wise writes frequently about intelligence and espionage. His most recent book is “Tiger Trap: America's Secret Spy War with China.”

Ohio man accused of plotting government attack pleads not guilty


An Ohio man accused of plotting to attack the U.S. Capitol with guns and bombs pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and other charges in federal court on Thursday.

Christopher Cornell, 20, of Cincinnati, is being held without bail after prosecutors said he posed a threat to national security.

The charges against Cornell include attempted murder of government officials, possession of a firearm to commit a crime and solicitation to commit a violent crime.

Cornell, in gray prison garb, answered “yes” in a soft voice to U.S. Magistrate Stephanie Bowman's questions about whether he understood the charges.

Bowman on Thursday denied Cornell's request, made through his attorney, that he be addressed by his Muslim name, Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah.

Cornell was arrested on Jan. 14, after he researched the construction of pipe bombs, purchased a semi-automatic rifle and 600 rounds of ammunition and made plans to travel to Washington to carry out the plot, according to testimony from an FBI informant.

Cornell began plotting the attack in August, according to the indictment which was filed on Wednesday.

The arrest came after Cornell, using the name Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah, posted on Twitter that he supported the Islamic State, a militant group which has seized parts of Syria and Iraq.

According to court documents, Cornell met with an FBI informant to discuss his plans, and indicated to the informant that he considered the members of Congress as enemies and that he intended to conduct an attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

No future court date has been set.