5 Outrageous Examples of FBI Intimidation and Entrapment
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A person who knows all of another’s travels can deduce whether he is a weekly churchgoer, a heavy drinker, a regular at the gym, an unfaithful husband, an outpatient receiving medical treatment, an associate of particular individuals or political groups — and not just one such fact about a person, but all such facts.
The US Supreme Court agreed on June 27 to hear the case on whether police can attach a GPS tracking devices to a suspect’s vehicle without obtaining a warrant. The court’s decision could have profound implications for US citizens because a majority carry a “tracking device” every day—a cell phone. It could define whether the FBI would be able to circumvent traditional wiretapping guidelines and just use this loophole to tap citizens through their cell phones.
2. FBI Targeting WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning Supporters
David House, co-founder of the Bradley Manning Support Network, has faced harassment since November 2010, when Department of Homeland Security agents detained him at O’Hare International Airport on his return trip from Mexico.
A press release posted by the Bradley Manning Support Network described how House had his laptop seized and was “questioned extensively" about his support for alleged WikiLeaks whistleblower Bradley Manning. House requested a copy of his research data from the computer that was seized. His request was denied.
House faced intrusive and intimidating tactics that included copying and possibly disseminating the contents of his USB drive, camera and laptop, all because he joined a lawful group.
“The search and seizure of my laptop has had a chilling effect on the activities of the Bradley Manning Support Network, by silencing once-outspoken supporters and causing donors to retreat. Our government should not be treating lawful activists like suspects,” House said. Days later, the FBI approached House at a computer conference.
The FBI has also been at the center of attempts to intimidate WikiLeaks supporters, especially those involved in organizing with the Bradley Manning Support Network, a grassroots group.
In April of this year, House sent a message on Twitter reporting that FBI agents had gone to “interrogate a West Coast friend at his place of work.” He described how his friend, who is not involved in computers or activism, was pressured to sign a non-disclosure agreement and was held for four hours after the interrogation. His friend was released after repeated banging on the interrogation room’s door. He had taken notes during the interrogation on “a scrap of magazine paper during his four-hour detention” but was made to surrender his notes before leaving his detention.
The friend said that the FBI agents wanted to know what he knew about House, his beliefs and his lifestyle. There were no questions about Manning.
The ACLU has come to House’s defense and filed a lawsuit against the DHS. The ACLU has called for the “return or destruction of any of House’s personal data still in the custody of the government and disclosure of whether and to whom the data has been disseminated.” If not for the ACLU sending a letter to DHS, House would likely have not been able to get his seized laptop, camera and USB drive back after seven weeks.
The FBI recently subpoenaed House to appear before a federal grand jury empanelled to investigate WikiLeaks in Alexandria, Virginia. He pled the fifth and refused to answer questions on possible violations of the Espionage Act. House also has alleged that agents from various government agencies tried to bribe him for information on Boston-area hackers.
Additionally, Jacob Appelbaum, a computer security researcher who represented WikiLeaks at the 2010 Hope conference, has been detained and searched regularly for nearly a year. On July 29, 2010, he was detained for three hours at the Newark airport. His bag was searched, receipts in his bag were photocopied and his laptop was inspected. Appelbaum refused to answer questions because he did not have a lawyer present. He was not allowed to make a phone call and three mobile phones he was carrying were seized and have yet to be returned.