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BVT News Roundup 7 January 2014.


(Photo of Bonnie Raines and her husband, John, who raided an FBI field office in 1971 and secreted away government documents that proved the agency spied on anti-war activists by Mark Makela / NY Times)

The FBI has released video and photos of two suspects — yes, suspects — in the Boston Marathon bombings.

Anyone who sees them are warned not to approach or make contact with the suspects as they are considered armed and dangerous.

Call the FBI with any tips or information: 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324).


The Justice Department and the FBI have launched a review of thousands of criminal cases to determine whether any defendants were wrongly convicted or deserve a new trial because of flawed forensic evidence, officials said Tuesday.

The undertaking is the largest post-conviction review ever done by the FBI. It will include cases conducted by all FBI Laboratory hair and fiber examiners since at least 1985 and may reach earlier if records are available, people familiar with the process said. Such FBI examinations have taken place in federal and local cases across the country, often in violent crimes, such as rape, murder and robbery.

The review comes after The Washington Post reported in April that Justice Department officials had known for years that flawed forensic work might have led to the convictions of potentially innocent people but had not performed a thorough review of the cases. In addition, prosecutors did not notify defendants or their attorneys even in many cases they knew were troubled.

On Tuesday, the Justice Department announced that it will conduct the more expansive review.

“The Department and the FBI are in the process of identifying historical cases for review where a microscopic hair examination conducted by the FBI was among the evidence in a case that resulted in a conviction,” spokeswoman Nanda Chitre said in a statement. “We have dedicated considerable time and resources to addressing these issues, with the goal of reaching final determinations in the coming months.”

The Washington Post, “Justice Dept., FBI to Review Use of Forensic Evidence in Thousands of Cases.”

Bewildering.  Maddening.

The international hackers group known as Anonymous turned the tables on the F.B.I. by listening in on a conference call last month between the bureau, Scotland Yard and other foreign police agencies about their joint investigation of the group and its allies.

Anonymous posted a 16-minute recording of the conference call on the Web on Friday and crowed about the episode in via Twitter: “The FBI might be curious how we’re able to continuously read their internal comms for some time now.”

An F.B.I. official said Anonymous had not in fact hacked into the conference call or any other bureau facilities. Instead, the official said, the group had obtained an e-mail giving the time, telephone number and access code for the call. The e-mail had been sent on Jan. 13 to more than three dozen people at the bureau, Scotland Yard, and agencies in France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and Sweden. One of the recipients, a foreign police official, evidently forwarded the notification to a private account, he said, and it was then intercepted by Anonymous.

“It’s not really that sophisticated,” said the official, who would discuss the episode only on condition of anonymity. He said no Federal Bureau of Investigation system was compromised but noted that communications security was more challenging when agencies in multiple countries were involved.

The New York Times, “FBI Admits Hacker Group’s Eavesdropping”

Probe surrounding Wis. governor apparently growing »


ABC News

—via @ericmortensen

A team of FBI agents executed search warrants at a home on the east side of Madison, Wisconsin, Wednesday.

In this Intelligence Report: The raid was on a former top aide to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in what appears to be an expanding corruption investigation.

Wednesday’s raid is the latest carried out by federal authorities on several of Governor Scott Walker’s top staffers, all state employees who recently resigned.

Even though the search warrant was executed on a home in the state capital of Madison, they were Milwaukee FBI agents. It appears that the federal investigation concerns Governor Walker’s time as Milwaukee county executive.

“At the top of the stairs he saw the blood, a large pool of it, splashed across the balcony like a grisly, abstract painting. Instinctively, Ernest Withers raised his camera. This wasn’t just a murder. This was history.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood here a few hours earlier chatting with aides when a sniper squeezed off a shot from a hunting rifle.

Now, as night set over Memphis, Withers was on the story.

Slipping past a police barricade, the enterprising Beale Street newsman made his way to room 306 at the Lorraine Motel — King’s room — and walked in. Ralph Abernathy and the others hardly blinked. After all, this was Ernest C. Withers. He’d marched with King, and sat in on some of the movement’s sensitive strategy meetings.

A veteran freelancer for America’s black press, Withers was known as ‘the original civil rights photographer,’ an insider who’d covered it all, from the Emmett Till murder that jump-started the movement in 1955 to the Little Rock school crisis, the integration of Ole Miss and, now, the 1968 sanitation strike that brought King to Memphis and his death.

As other journalists languished in the Lorraine courtyard, Withers’ camera captured the scene:

Bernard Lee, tie undone, looking weary yet fiery.

Andrew Young raising his palm to keep order.

Ben Hooks and Harold Middlebrook gazing pensively as King’s briefcase sits nearby, opened, as if awaiting his return.

The grief-stricken aides photographed by Withers on April 4, 1968, had no clue, but the man they invited in that night was an FBI informant — evidence of how far the agency went to spy on private citizens in Memphis during one of the nation’s most volatile periods.”

Lede paras from the Memphis Commercial Appeal's article on Ernest Withers, renowned chronicler of the civil rights movement, who doubled as a spy on that movement for the FBI

In the Bureau’s report on MLK’s April 4, 1968 assassination, Withers is only identified by his “confidential informant number, ME 338-R.”

A sad and troubling story.