Observations Does everyone in the criminological community religiously adhere to scientific, evidence-based principals before suggesting or implementing policy? What we want and what we can prove are two different things. That applies to Donald Trump. It also applies to the rest of us. Just as every cop is a criminal, and all the sinners saints-The […]
A Harvard-Harris Poll of registered voters says that only 17 percent have a favorable view of FBI Director James Comey, compared to 35 percent who have a negative view of him. The survey was taken before he testified before Congress on Monday.
FBI Director James Comey is unpopular across the political spectrum, says a new survey that finds voters have a negative opinion of Comey by a more than two-to-one margin, reports The Hill. A Harvard-Harris Poll of registered voters says that only 17 percent have a favorable view of Comey, compared to 35 percent who have a negative view of him. Forty-one percent of Democrats have an unfavorable view of Comey, with only 12 percent saying they view him positively. Comey is almost at break-even among Republicans, with 26 percent viewing him positively and 27 percent viewing him negatively.
That could change for the worse, as the survey was conducted before Comey’s testimony on Monday before the House Intelligence Committee that frustrated many Republicans. Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) lamented that Comey had cast “a big, gray cloud” over the Trump administration. “Even in 1953, the height of McCarthyism, Gallup had 78 percent saying J. Edgar Hoover, Jr. was doing a good job and only 2 percent a poor job,” said Harvard-Harris Poll co-director Mark Penn. “Comey’s ratings, which are two-to-one negative, suggest a crisis of confidence in his leadership as top law enforcement officer.”
“This is the kind of investigation that is never good news for an administration,” says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer, a student of the Nixon presidency.
From Richard Nixon to Bill Clinton, history suggests that it is never a good thing for a president to have the FBI, with its nearly infinite resources and sweeping investigative powers, on his tail, reports Politico. FBI Director James Comey’s promise yesterday to the House Intelligence Committee to “follow the facts wherever they lead” in the bureau’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia amounted to an ominous guarantee that institutional forces beyond any president’s control will force the facts of the case to light. “Comey’s admission of an ongoing counterintelligence investigation, with no endpoint in sight, is a big deal,” said historian Timothy Naftali, the first director of the federally-run Nixon presidential library. “This is not going away.”
Given Trump’s willingness to attack any adversary – hours before Comey’s testimony, he tweeted that the suggestion of collaboration between his campaign and Russia was “fake news” – official acknowledgment of the investigation not only raises sharp new questions about the president’s own credibility, but about his willingness to continue undermining public trust and confidence in the government institutions he leads. Will the Trump White House feel hamstrung about publicly attacking Comey or trying to quash the inquiry? Trump and his aides would do well to recall the most celebrated instance of a president’s attempt to block an FBI investigation. “The obvious example that comes to mind is Watergate, when Richard Nixon famously turned to the CIA to block the FBI’s investigation,” said Julian Zelizer, a Princeton history professor. That attempt failed spectacularly. Zelizer added, “This is the kind of investigation that is never good news for an administration.” He noted that the current probe has already “consumed much of the president’s time and the doors keep opening to bigger potential problems.”
The Associated Press and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press are appealing a court ruling declining to order the FBI to provide more detail about agents posing as journalists, as one did in a 2007 case of a Washington state teenage hacker.
FBI agent Norman Sanders posed as an Associated Press journalist to learn the identity of a teenage hacker in 2007 in Washington state. The boy confessed and was sentenced to 90 days in a juvenile detention center. How often do FBI agents impersonate members of the news media? “Journalists play a very similar role to doctors in our society in that we trust them,” says Christopher Soghoian, former chief technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union. “And without trust they cannot operate.” A federal judge has rejected a lawsuit by The Associated Press and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press demanding more detail from the FBI about the practice of posing as journalists. The two media organizations are appealing, the Associated Press reports.
The AP has drawn on hundreds of pages of records and interviews with a dozen people to piece together the story of how the teen in Lacey, Wa., prompted a confrontation between the Justice Department and the media. Using hijacked servers in Europe, the teen emailed grandiose, profane bomb threats to teachers and administrators at Timberline High, forcing repeated evacuations at the 1,500-student school. It was then that a supposed AP writer emailed the teen for comment on the threats, promising anonymity. He agreed to chat, and agents learned his internet protocol address. Six hours later, police were at his door. A decade later, “AP is calling for the release of all FBI documents related to the impersonation of any and all journalists in order to make the public aware of this deceptive practice and its breadth,” said Executive Editor Sally Buzbee.
Matthew Lowry grew up in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. His father worked as an officer with the Prince George’s County Police Department and his mother was an active member of their Baptist Church. Matthew graduated in 1999 from the Gra…
In 2013, Agent Lowry was assigned to the FBI field office in Washington, D.C. where he was part of a task force that focused on drug crimes along the borders of D.C, Maryland, and Virginia. He resided in a two-bedroom townhouse in the district with his wife Shana who worked as a senior territory manager for a global pharmaceutical company. His father, now retired from the Prince George's Police Department, held the position of assistant police chief at an Anne Arundel County law enforcement agency.
In August 2013, Special Agent Lowry began stealing packets of heroin from the Washington Field Office's evidence room. He had been taking prescription medication for an old injury but for some reason had switched to heroin.
Stealing heroin from the field office's evidence room was easy. Agent Lowry checked out packages of the contraband on the pretext of having the narcotics tested at the FBI Laboratory. Instead, he removed a quantity of the substance from each packet, cut what was left with either the supplement Creatine or the laxative Purelax, weighed the packages on a digital scale to bring them to their original weights, then returned the attenuated heroin to the evidence room in bags with new stickers signifying they had been sealed.
Agent Lowry got away with his thefts because of the lack of supervision and checks and balances built into the evidence handling procedure at the FBI field office.
On September 29, 2014, Agent Lowry's bureau colleagues lost track of him. That night, they found the 33-year-old slumped over the wheel of his FBI car. The vehicle had run out of gas near the Washington Navy Yard.
Inside Lowry's car, agents found opened packets of heroin lying about. They also found a shotgun and a pistol, evidence seized from a drug raid that was never logged into the evidence room.
The Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Office suspended Agent Lowry pending the outcome of an internal investigation conducted by agents from other field divisions. In 2014, federal prosecutors, as a result of Lowry's evidence-handling scandal, had to dismiss drug charges against 28 defendants.
The Lowry case caused high level bureau administrators to institute an internal review of the evidence handling procedures in all 56 FBI field offices.
In March 2015, a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C. charged the former agent with 20 counts of obstruction of justice, 18 counts of falsification of records, 13 counts of conversion of property, and 13 counts of possession of heroin. If convicted, Lowry faced a minimum sentence of seven years in prison.
On March 31, 2015, Lowry's attorney announced that his client had pleaded guilty in federal court to 64 criminal counts. According to the plea deal, he would serve some prison time but not seven years.
On July 9, 2015, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas F. Hogan sentenced Matthew Lowry to three years in prison. The judge denied Lowry's plea for home detention on the grounds that his crimes had tainted dozens of major FBI drug cases.
Observations An examination of Trump’s speech to Congress focusing on crime and justice issues. For those insisting that violent crime is not increasing, you risk being left behind in a national conversation. The rest of us have moved on to solutions. Trump understands that violent crime profoundly affects everything, including the economy and jobs. But […]
In several plots investigated recently in Kansas and Missouri, alleged terrorists reportedly were unknowingly following the directions of undercover FBI agents who supplied fake bombs and came up with key elements of the plans, reports the Kansas City Star.
Announcements of foiled terrorist plots make for lurid reading. They include schemes to carry out a Presidents Day jihadist attack on a train station in Kansas City, to bomb a Sept. 11 memorial event, to blow up a 1,000-pound bomb at Fort Riley, Ks.,, and detonate a weapon of mass destruction at a Wichita airport, reports the Kansas City Star. How much of it was real? Often not much, according to a review of recent terrorism cases investigated by the FBI in Kansas and Missouri. The most sensational plots invoking the name of the Islamic State or al-Qaida here were largely the invention of FBI agents carrying out elaborate sting operations on individuals identified through social media as being potentially dangerous.
In fact, in terrorism investigations in Wichita, at Fort Riley and last week in Kansas City, the alleged terrorists reportedly were unknowingly following the directions of undercover FBI agents who supplied fake bombs and came up with key elements of the plans. “What I get concerned about is where the plot is being hatched by the FBI,” said Michael German of the Brennan Center for Justice, a former FBI agent. “There has been a clear effort to manufacture plots.” Law enforcement has increasingly used undercover agents and informants to develop such cases in recent years, especially against people suspected of being inspired by the Islamic State. Of 126 Islamic State-related cases prosecuted by federal authorities across the U.S. since 2014, nearly two-thirds involved undercover agents or informants, says the Center on National Security at Fordham University School of Law in New York. The FBI has increased its use of sting operations, which were once seen as a tactic of last resort.
FBI director James Comey’s refusal to refute news reports that associates of President Trump engaged in possibly illegal contacts with Russian intelligence puts him back in the political spotlight.
When the White House asked the FBI to refute publicly news reports that associates of President Trump engaged in possibly illegal contacts with Russian intelligence, Director James Comey refused. The interaction between the White House and the FBI again puts Comey squarely in the political crosshairs, Politico reports. Last fall, Comey disclosed the FBI’s renewed investigation of emails relating to Hillary Clinton days before the presidential election, a decision some Democrats blame for Clinton’s narrow loss to Trump. Now, Comey has remained silent while the White House alleges that one of his top deputies first flagged doubts about a New York Times story on the Russian contacts to Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus, who asked for help knocking the story down.
Priebus’ move could raise questions about the integrity of FBI investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The partisan sensitivity surrounding the issue of the Trump team’s connections with Russia makes it virtually impossible for Comey to do anything (or nothing) without his actions being viewed as somehow political. “He wants to be the honest broker. That’s what’s in his heart,” said a senior Justice Department official. “But he’s having a hard time doing that. He keeps getting accused of doing things wrong, especially when going the extra mile to try to do things right.” Trump himself attacked the FBI on Friday, tweeting that the agency was unable to find “leakers.”