Ex-FBI Agent Admits Leak, Cites Minority Profiling

Former FBI agent Terry Albury pleaded guilty to leaking classified documents to a reporter, saying he knew it was illegal but felt he had to act against a culture in the bureau that often treats minority communities with suspicion and disrespect.

A black former Minnesota FBI counterterrorism agent pleaded guilty Tuesday to leaking classified documents to a reporter, saying he knew it was illegal but felt he had to act against a culture in the bureau that often treats minority communities with suspicion and disrespect, the Associated Press reports. Terry Albury, 39, appeared in federal court in St. Paul on one count of unauthorized disclosure of national defense information and one count of unauthorized retention of national defense information. Albury faces a likely sentence of between 37 and 57 months in prison. U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina Wright did not set a sentencing date.

Albury’s attorneys, JaneAnne Murray and Joshua Dratel, said that after working for the FBI in Iraq, Albury “was assigned to the counterterrorism squad and was required first-hand to implement FBI investigation directives that profiled and intimidated minority communities in Minnesota and other locations in which Terry served.” Albury was accused of sharing documents with an online news organization including a 2011 document classified as secret on how the FBI assesses confidential informants, and an undated document “relating to threats posed by certain individuals from a particular Middle Eastern country.” The Intercept published a story on Jan. 31, 2017 citing the document in the Albury case and discussing the FBI’s process of assessing informants and recruiting them by identifying their “motivations and vulnerabilities.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

How the FBI Reformed After Branch Davidian Siege

A quarter-century since federal agents and Branch Davidians died in a 51-day standoff, the Austin American-Statesman reviews the important lessons the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives learned from the episode.

Marking 25 years since the Branch Davidian siege near Waco, Tx., the Austin American-Statesman reviews the episode that exposed shortcomings in policy and tactics in the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Both agencies made major changes after the siege to better prepare for critical incident responses. The death toll included four ATF agents and more than 75 Branch Davidians, including 21 children. The initial ATF raid on the compound led to a 51-day standoff involving FBI negotiators. Authorities believed the Branch Davidians had a stockpile of weapons, and ATF obtained a search warrant for the compound as well as an arrest warrant for the group’s leader, David Koresh. On Feb. 28, 1993, nearly 100 agents moved in to execute the warrants.

“The biggest problem we had was internal,” said Byron Sage, the lead FBI negotiator. “We brought it on ourselves. We created a crisis within a crisis.” After Waco, to improve communication and cohesion among the different elements involved in critical incidents like the Texas siege, the bureau created the Critical Incident Response Group. Notably, the agency’s tactical and negotiating teams now train together. The group houses five sections: the FBI’s aviation program; crisis management and command posts; bomb technicians and the hazardous devices school; all the behavioral analysis units; and the tactical section, composed of the Hostage Rescue Team, negotiators, the tactical helicopter unit and support. “The negotiators are occupying, living in, training with, exercising with, and operating with the tactical operators every day. We’re housed in the same place,” said David Sundberg, chief of the Tactical Section and commander of the Hostage Rescue Team. “So, not just at a critical incident, but at all times before, we are working together.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Comey Denounces Trump Threat to Jail Him

Promoting his new book, former FBI director James Comey says President Trump should not have suggested that he be jailed. Comey said, “This is not some tin pot dictatorship where the leader of the country gets to say ‘the people I don’t like go to jail.’”

Former FBI Director James Comey denounced Donald Trump’s presidency as a threat to bedrock U.S., warning that the president’s calls for Comey to be jailed could erode the rule of law, Politico reports. Trump has labeled the former FBI director, whose new book was officially released on Tuesday, as a liar and leaker, suggesting he be sent to jail. Comey told NPR that Trump “said that a private citizen should be jailed. And I think the reaction of most of us was, ‘meh, that’s another one of those things.’ This is not normal. This is not OK.”

While Comey’s criticism of the president, so has the White House’s response. Trump administration officials have painted Comey as a disgruntled ex-employee looking to settle scores and an admitted leaker whose Congressional testimony had to be corrected almost immediately. Trump tweeted ver the weekend that Comey “will go down as the WORST FBI Director in history, by far!” Comey told NPR, “This is not some tin pot dictatorship where the leader of the country gets to say ‘the people I don’t like go to jail.’ Our Lady Justice wears a blindfold. And the reason all those statues all over the country have a blindfold is, that’s the way it has to be. Lady Justice can’t be peeking under the blindfold to see if Donald Trump wants her to convict so-and-so and not convict so-and-so. If we lose that, we’ve lost the rule of law…”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Comey Defies Attempts to Pigeonhole Him

Former FBI director James Comey calls President Trump “morally unfit” to serve, but opposes impeachment. In an interview with ABC News, he argued that Americans should decide the president’s future in the voting booth by “voting their values.”

If former FBI director James Comey is trying to prosecute the case against President Trump in the court of public opinion, he has chosen a strange way in which to do it, says the Washington Post. In his first interview about his new book Sunday night on ABC, Comey continues to defy attempts to pigeonhole or use him. He’s not going to lead Democrats’ charge on collusion, obstruction of justice or impeachment. He has presented himself as too imperfect a figure — one overly concerned with appearances, politics and ego — even if they wanted him to, the Post says. Comey is not comfortable with impeaching Trump but seems oddly comfortable impeaching himself as a witness against Trump.

Comey seemed almost unconcerned with appearing vindictive and even petty. He clearly holds a grudge against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for the memo Rosenstein wrote making the case for Comey’s firing, saying Rosenstein “acted dishonorably.” Comey, who called Trump “morally unfit” to be president, volunteered what he acknowledged was a “strange answer” about whether he wants to impeach Trump. “I think impeaching and removing Donald Trump from office would let the American people off the hook and have something happen indirectly that I believe they’re duty-bound to do directly,” he said. “People in this country need to stand up and go to the voting booth and vote their values.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

DOJ Watchdog Sharply Criticizes Andrew McCabe

Long-awaited report says the former FBI deputy director, who was fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, made unauthorized disclosures to the media and misled former FBI director James Comey.

The Department of Justice inspector general sent to Congress a report sharply criticizing former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe for unauthorized disclosures to the media ahead of the 2016 election and lacking candor with investigators, including then-FBI Director James Comey, Politico reports. The report formed the basis of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ firing of McCabe last month shortly before his scheduled retirement, a decision that pleased President Trump and White House allies who have long portrayed McCabe as compromised by anti-Trump bias. The report revealed sharply different recollections by McCabe and Comey — and suggested McCabe misled Comey about it. And it also suggests Inspector General Michael Horowitz found Comey’s account to be more credible.

“DOJ just issued the McCabe report — which is a total disaster,” Trump tweeted. “He LIED! LIED! LIED! McCabe was totally controlled by Comey — McCabe is Comey!! No collusion, all made up by this den of thieves and lowlifes!” Among the IG’s findings is that McCabe was less than forthcoming with Comey about his October 2016 authorization of two FBI officials to disclose information to a Wall Street Journal reporter working on an article about FBI investigations involving Hillary Clinton. The IG report states, “McCabe lacked candor when he told Comey, or made statements that led Comey to believe, that McCabe had not authorized the disclosure and did not know who did.” McCabe told the IG that he “should credit Mr. McCabe’s account over Director Comey’s” and complained that the report “paints Director Comey as a white knight carefully guarding FBI information, while overlooking that Mr. McCabe’s account is more credible.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Trump Calls Comey an ‘Untruthful Slime Ball’

As former FBI director James Comey releases his book that likens the president to a dishonest mob boss, the president tweets that Comey is “a proven LEAKER & LIAR.”

President Trump fired back at James Comey on Friday, calling him “a proven LEAKER & LIAR”  and a “untruthful slime ball” as the former FBI director releases a book that likens the president to a dishonest mob boss, reports USA Today. “Virtually everyone in Washington thought he should be fired for the terrible job he did-until he was, in fact, fired,” Trump tweeted of Comey. In fact, lawmakers from both parties criticized Comey’s dismissal. It is the subject of a special counsel investigation into whether he sought to obstruct justice in the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The former FBI director said Trump appeared to lean on him to go easy on former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was indicted on charges of lying to the FBI about his post-election contact with a Russian ambassador. On ABC’s “Good Morning America” Friday, Comey said Trump seemed obsessed with an unverified claim that during a trip to Moscow he watched two prostitutes engage in a sexual act. Comey said Trump asked him to “prove that it didn’t happen,” and said it would be “terrible” if his wife Melania Trump believed the claim. In his morning tweets, Trump said Comey’s “handling of the Crooked Hillary Clinton case, and the events surrounding it, will go down as one of the worst ‘botch jobs’ of history. It was my great honor to fire James Comey!”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Get Ready for a ‘Full-on Media Swoonfest’ Over Comey

“It is going to be embarrassing, if you happen to think media coverage should include a healthy dose of critical distance,” says Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan of the coming hoopla over James Comey’s book.

James Comey is about to be the focus of a “full-on media swoonfest” as the fired FBI director embarks on a 10-city tour to promote his memoir, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership,” which publishes April 17, writes media columnist Margaret Sullivan in the Washington Post. Sullivan says, “It is going to be embarrassing, if you happen to think media coverage should include a healthy dose of critical distance.” Tickets with a face price of $95 are going for $850 on StubHub for a Manhattan town hall featuring Comey. “Comey is the most skilled opportunist ever,” wrote Glenn Greenwald, the Intercept co-founder who frequently points out the untoward love that is being offered in the Trump era to “deep state” figures who were once viewed with great skepticism.

Greenwald notes the irony that the former FBI director is “about to get very rich by selling an anti-Trump book even though, according to Nate Silver, Comey is the person most responsible for Trump’s win.”  (The statistics guru Silver said the FBI  announcement of the reopening of the Hillary Clinton email investigation and the media coverage had a significant negative effect on Clinton’s campaign.) Granted, there is plenty of real news value in what Comey has to say — especially since Trump’s firing him led to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller. David Eisenhower, the University of Pennsylvania professor and presidential historian, who watched his father-in-law, Richard Nixon, surrender his presidency to the Watergate scandal 44 years ago, says that,  “Comey is a hero or a knave depending on your perspective.” Trump — an epic attention-seeker himself — has called Comey a “showboat,” identifying an odd quality in a federal law-enforcement type. He is not wrong, Sullivan says.

from https://thecrimereport.org

McCabe Legal Defense Fund Quickly Raises $213,000

Former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help cover his legal costs as he navigates investigations and congressional inquiries and explores whether he will sue over his abrupt ouster from the bureau.

Former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe has launched an online fundraiser to help cover his legal costs as he navigates investigations and congressional inquiries and explores whether he will sue over his abrupt ouster from the bureau, the Washington Post reports. McCabe’s team unveiled the legal defense fund, hosted on the website GoFundMe, about 2 p.m. on Thursday. By 7 p.m., it had raised more than $213,000 toward a $250,000 goal. Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired McCabe two weeks ago, ending his more than 20-year career just 26 hours before he could retire and begin collecting his full retirement benefits. The move is likely to cut into his pension, though McCabe’s team said the legal defense fund will not be used “for anything beyond his defense of the allegations against him.”

“He will continue to fight for the pension and benefits he deserves, rather than accept any crowdfunding for that purpose,” his team wrote on his GoFundMe page. After any legal proceedings were over, whatever remains in the fund will be donated to charity. Soon after McCabe’s firing, his team noted that there were a number of crowdfunding sites claiming to be raising money in his name, but none was affiliated with him. “Unfortunately, the need for a legal-defense fund is a growing reality,” his team wrote. Sessions said he fired McCabe over findings from the Justice Department inspector general that McCabe had authorized an inappropriate disclosure to the media, then allegedly misled investigators about it. The FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility recommended the termination.

from https://thecrimereport.org

FBI Agent Charged With Leaking to Media

Agent Terry Albury is accused of providing secret documents that were quoted by The Intercept. Albury says he was seeking to expose “systemic biases” within the bureau.

An FBI agent who sought to expose what he called “systemic biases” within the bureau has been charged after allegedly leaking secret documents to a national news reporter, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. The charges, filed by the Justice Department’s National Security Division, are the first to come in Minnesota since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a crackdown on government leaks last year. A two-page felony “information,” which typically signals an imminent guilty plea, outlines two counts filed against Terry Albury of unlawfully disclosing and retaining national defense information. Albury is accused of sharing a document on assessing informants and a document “relating to threats posed by certain individuals from a particular Middle Eastern country” with a national media organization.

Albury is accused of sharing the information before Jan. 31, 2017, when The Intercept published an entry to its “FBI’s Secret Rules” series on how the bureau assesses potential informants. Albury’s attorneys said that he “served the U.S. with distinction both here at home and abroad in Iraq. He accepts full responsibility for the conduct set forth in the Information. We would like to add that as the only African-American FBI field agent in Minnesota, Mr. Albury’s actions were driven by a conscientious commitment to long-term national security and addressing the well-documented systemic biases within the FBI.” Intercept editor-in-chief Betsy Reed said, “The use of the Espionage Act to prosecute whistleblowers seeking to shed light on matters of vital public concern is an outrage, and all journalists have the right under the First Amendment to report these stories.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

FBI Assigns 54 Staffers to Review Hillary Clinton Probe

The bureau doubles the number of employees working to comply with a House Judiciary Committee subpoena for records of its investigation into Clinton’s email server.

Facing a threat from House Republicans, the FBI said it is doubling to 54 the number of staffers combing through documents to comply with GOP requests for records of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server, reports Politico. Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) had subpoenaed the Justice Department for Clinton investigation records, citing “ongoing delays” in obtaining the documents. Goodlatte added that the subpoena covers documents related to the firing of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Some House Republicans have mounted an increasingly hostile campaign against the FBI leadership, accusing top officials of mishandling the Clinton investigation while assigning anti-Trump agents to oversee the Trump-Russia probe that the FBI launched in July 2016.

Democrats have derided those criticisms as baseless and politically motivated. A top Justice Department official on Tuesday accused Goodlatte of breaking from longstanding norms in the relationship between DOJ and Congress. His subpoena for records surrounding McCabe’s firing, the department noted, came less than a week after his ouster and without any negotiations that typically precede a subpoena. Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd said Goodlatte’s request included demands for documents that include “highly sensitive law enforcement and national security” information. Another request, Boyd said, covered information protected by attorney-client privilege and other aspects of the GOP requests were already provided, he said. Boyd said the FBI had provided the committee in August 2016 with a 32-page set of investigative documents about the Clinton probe.

from https://thecrimereport.org