Trevor Aaronson: How this FBI strategy is actually creating US-based terrorists – Filmed March 2015 at TED2015

There’s an organization responsible for more terrorism plots in the United States than al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab and ISIS combined: The FBI. How? Why? In an eye-opening talk, investigative journalist Trevor Aaronson reveals a disturbing FBI practice that breeds terrorist plots by exploiting Muslim-Americans with mental health problems.

Report: FBI investigating medical device that spread cancer in women – CBS NEWS May 27, 2015, 6:10 PM

The FBI reportedly is investigating a medical device that was withdrawn from the market last year after it was found to spread cancer in women. The Wall Street Journal reports investigators are looking into what Johnson & Johnson, the largest manufacturer of the device, knew about the problems.

Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon division manufactured power morcellator devices which were withdrawn from the market after the FDA warned they could spread cancer. AP PHOTO/MEL EVANS

The device, known as a laparoscopic power morcellator, was used by surgeons during certain minimally-invasive hysterectomy procedures or to remove uterine fibroids. The morcellator ground up tissue so it could easily be removed through tiny incisions. But when the device was used on women who had undiscovered uterine sarcoma cancer, it had the effect of spreading cancerous tissue throughout the abdomen and pelvis.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about the cancer risk in April 2014, saying morcellation could “significantly worsen…the patient’s likelihood of long-term survival.”In November, the FDA required a strong new warning on the product label.

Ethicon, a division of Johnson & Johnson that made the devices, advised doctors to stop using them and withdrew them from the market, although models made by other companies remain available.

Prior to that, about 60,000 such procedures were performed every year, estimated Dr. William Maisel, deputy director for science and chief scientist at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

Asked about the investigation, J&J/Ethicon told CBS News they have not been contacted by the FBI regarding morcellation devices.

But at least one of the affected patients has been interviewed by the FBI about her case. Dr. Amy Reed, an anesthesiologist and mother of six, became an outspoken critic of the devices after she underwent a hysterectomy with a morcellator at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 2013. Follow-up testing showed she had cancer that had spread through her abdomen.

Reed’s husband, Dr. Hooman Noorchashm, told CBS News the couple had reached out to the FBI starting in late 2013 and “finally, agents in New Jersey listened.” He said they were interviewed last October and again recently about their concerns.

The Feds Got the Sony Hack Right, But the Way They’re Framing It Is Dangerous BY ROBERT M. LEE 01.10.15 | 6:30 AM

The FBI’s statement that North Korea is responsible for the cyber attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment has been met with various levels of support and criticism, which has polarized the information security community. At its core, the debate comes down to this: Should we trust the government and its evidence or not? But I believe there is another view that has not been widely represented. Those who trust the government, but disagree with the precedent being set.

Pedestrians in Seoul, South Korea watch a news program showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un delivering a speech, on Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015.

Pedestrians in Seoul, South Korea watch a news program showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un delivering a speech, on Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015. Ahn Young-joon/AP

The FBI’s statement that North Korea is responsible for the cyber attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment has been met with various levels of support and criticism, which has polarized the information security community. At its core, the debate comes down to this: Should we trust the government and its evidence or not? But I believe there is another view that has not been widely represented. Those who trust the government, but disagree with the precedent being set.

Polarization and Precedents

The government knew when it released technical evidence surrounding the attack that what it was presenting was not enough. The evidence presented so far has been lackluster at best, and by its own admission, there was additional information used to arrive at the conclusion that North Korea was responsible, that it decided to withhold. Indeed, the NSA has now acknowledged helping the FBI with its investigation, though it still unclear what exactly the nature of that help was.

But in presenting inconclusive evidence to the public to justify the attribution, the government opened the door to cross-analysis that would obviously not reach the same conclusion it had reached. It was likely done with good intention, but came off to the security community as incompetence, with a bit of pandering.

When I served in the intelligence community as an analyst and team lead doing digital network analysis, dealing with these types of threat attribution cases was the norm. What was not the norm was going public with attribution. I understand the reason for wanting to publicly identify attackers and I also understand the challenges of identifying attackers while at the same time preserving sources and methods. Being open with evidence does have serious consequences. But being entirely closed with evidence is a problem, too. The worst path is the middle ground though. The problem in this case is that the government made a decision to have public attribution without the needed public evidence to prove it. It sets a dangerous international precedent whereby we’re saying to the world “we did the analysis, don’t question it—it’s classified—just accept it as proof.”

This opens up scary possibilities. If Iran had reacted the same way when it’s nuclear facility was hit with the Stuxnet malware we likely would have all critiqued it. The global community would have not accepted “we did analysis but it’s classified so now we’re going to employ countermeasures” as an answer. If the attribution was wrong and there was an actual countermeasure or response to the attack then the lack of public analysis could have led to incorrect and drastic consequences. But with the precedent now set—what happens next time? In a hypothetical scenario, China, Russia, or Iran would be justified to claim that an attack against their private industry was the work of a nation-state, say that the evidence is classified, and then employ legal countermeasures. This could be used inappropriately for political posturing and goals. The Sony case should not be over simplified as there were no clear cut correct answers but it’s important to understand the precedent being set and the potential for blowback.

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FBI Fixated on North Korea for Sony Hack Despite New Evidence – Shane Harris 12.30.14

The Daily Beast

The agency says Pyongyang acted alone even as more signs point towards the attack starting as an inside job.
In spite of mounting evidence that the North Korean regime may not have been wholly responsible for a brazen cyberassault against Sony—and possibly wasn’t involved at all—the FBI is doubling down on its theory that the Hermit Kingdom solely bears the blame.

“We think it’s them,” referring to the North Koreans, an FBI spokesperson told The Daily Beast when asked to respond to reports from private investigators that other culprits were responsible. The latest evidence, from the cyberanalysis firm the Norse Corp., suggests that a group of six individuals, including at least one disgruntled ex-Sony employee, is behind the assault, which has humiliated Sony executives, led to threats of terrorist attacks over the release of a satirical film, and prompted an official response from the White House.

The FBI said in a separate statement to journalists on Monday that “there is no credible information to indicate that any other individual is responsible for this cyberincident.” When asked whether that left open the possibility that other individuals may have assisted North Korea or were involved in the assault on Sony, but not ultimately responsible for the damage that was done, the FBI spokesperson replied, “We’re not making the distinction that you’re making about the responsible party and others being involved.”

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With FBI biometric database, ‘what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas’ – by Chris Francescani October 30, 2014 5:00AM ET

Agency officials defend police militarization and urge cops to adopt sophisticated technology to help identify suspects

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at Oct 30, 2014 2.58

ORLANDO, Florida — The FBI has invested considerable energy in recent months in marketing a massive new biometric database to local cops, whom the agency will rely on to help feed it billions of fingerprints, palm prints, mug shots, iris scans and images of scars, tattoos and other identifiers.

But it took senior FBI consultant Peter Fagan just nine words this week to capture the ambitious scope of the agency’s aims with the new system, which is gradually replacing traditional fingerprint identification with facial recognition and other biometric identifier technology.

“What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas anymore,” Fagan told a roomful of police executives at the annual International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference in Orlando on Tuesday.

He said that reaching the FBI’s goal of better tracking criminal suspects from town to town depends on local cops’ ability to adopt increasingly sophisticated new technologies and to share their data with federal law enforcement. He urged police to begin to “pack the record[s]” by collecting as many high-quality biometric identifiers from arrested criminal suspects as possible.

“We’re not only talking mug shots,” he said. “We’re talking scars, marks, tattoos and other descriptors. You can take up to 25 images [per arrest]. It used to be 10, but now you can take up to 25,” he said. “The upside is that every mug shot you collect is going to be searched against an unsolved crime.”

Oftentimes, Fagan told police, crime victims “remember tattoos but don’t remember anything else” about their assailants. Ultimately, “we should be working towards taking every biometric at every event,” he said, using an industry term for criminal processing.

The FBI’s database, known as Next Generation Identification (NGI), is just one of a dizzying array of investigative innovations being hawked to U.S. law enforcement agencies large and small, nationwide. While technology has transformed nearly every industry, few have changed as rapidly — or with as much federal and corporate encouragement — as local law enforcement.

That fact was evident last weekend in the main exhibit hall of the cavernous Orlando County Convention Center, where hundreds of vendors sold everything from ballistic underwear and high-powered weaponry to an 18-wheel mobile command center and analytic software that tracks gang members’ communications on social media.

‘Monsters are real’

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FBI cracks down on laser attacks – 3 June 2014 Last updated at 22:18 ET

Green laser

Commonly-used lasers can temporarily blind pilots at thousands of feet

The FBI has said it will expand a reward programme offering $10,000 (£6,000) for information leading to arrests over “lasing” incidents.

Laser pointers directed at helicopter and aeroplane pilots can temporarily blind those piloting the aircraft.

The FBI says it has seen a sharp increase in such incidents since they began tracking them in 2005.

Initially US officials offered the reward as an experiment in 12 cities in February.

Now it will expand the effort across all 56 field offices in the US, Puerto Rico and Guam for 90 days.

The latest known incident happened on 23 May, when a pilot approaching New York’s LaGuardia Airport said someone shone a laser into his aircraft at 5,000 ft (1,524m).

The beam was tracked to a residential area eight miles away.

And in March, a California man was sentenced to 14 years in prison for shining a laser pointer at police and hospital helicopters.

The law enforcement agency and the Federal Aviation Administration recorded fewer than 300 laser attacks in 2005. In 2013, they recorded nearly 4,000.

Astronomers at Kielder Observatory in the UK
Astronomers use laser pens to point to stars

The FBI began the reward programme in February in a dozen field offices, including Chicago, Houston, New York, Phoenix and Washington.

The agency said it had seen a 19% reduction in those areas during the time period of the trial programme.

As part of the FBI’s push there will be public service announcements about the programme during film previews in a theatre chain in the Mid-West.

Indiana Jones? FBI finds thousands of artifacts in 91-year-old’s home – By Paresh Dave April 6, 2014, 8:00 a.m.

The FBI set up shop at the home of a 91-year-old man near Indianapolis, saying he has thousands of artifacts and cultural items originating from at least a dozen different countries and Native American tribes – some of them acquired improperly.

Artifacts seized in Indiana

Agents and scientists, working in tents erected outside the house last week, were taking items from the home of Donald C. Miller and packing them up for further analysis.

“I have never seen a collection like this in my life except at some of the largest museums,” said Larry Zimmerman, an anthropology and museum studies professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, who is helping the FBI figure out what’s what in the private collection.

Speaking at a televised news conference Wednesday, Special Agent in Charge Robert Jones declined to describe the artifacts found at Miller’s home. But Jones said they had been acquired during the span of eight decades from various nations, including Australia, China, Haiti, Italy, New Guinea, New Zealand, Peru and Russia.

Some of the items had been “knowingly and unknowingly collected in violation of treaties and federal statutes,” Jones said. But some may have also been acquired before some restrictions went into place. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Indianapolis will decide whether to file charges after the investigation is complete. That could take months, the FBI said.

The “fairly well-maintained” artifacts sat in several different structures on Miller’s remote property in Waldron, Ind., Jones said. The exact number and monetary value of the items is not yet known. But “the cultural value of these artifacts is immeasurable,” Jones told the media.

Officials collaborating with experts in various cultural fields were working under tents at the property to determine what each item is and how and when each was acquired. Items that don’t lawfully belong to Miller would be returned to the proper foreign and Native American authorities, Jones said.

“A great deal of effort has gone into making sure each and every object is respected and handled with the utmost professionalism,” said Holly Cusack-McVeigh, another museums and anthropology professor with Indiana University-Purdue University. She too is assisting in the case.

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