Browsing: FBI

Prosecutors worried that bill would derail undercover inquiries

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Remember the 1997 movie, “Donnie Brasco,” based on the true-life tale of an undercover FBI agent who infiltrated the mob? Now try to imagine the film if Donnie (played by Johnny Depp) had to give hitman Lefty Ruggiero (Al Pacino) written notice of his right to record their every encounter as the investigation proceeded. Chances are pretty good that this climactic bust (parental discretion advised) wouldn’t have happened: That, in essence, is the alarm being sounded by prosecutors over a House-passed bill that would require federal officials to advise people of their right to record phone conversations and in-person meetings under…

How hackers infiltrated federal agency

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In addition to the standard two forms of identification, offer letter and contact information, new hires at the U.S. Department of Education are required to bring along a certificate of completion for cybersecurity training course. A recent internal investigation shows why that training is probably a pretty good idea. In a previously undisclosed probe into a 2011 “spear phishing” campaign, hackers targeted senior staff and managed to break through the department’s security protections to steal data from the department. Much about the incident, which was described in documents released through a Freedom of Information Act request by Federal Times, remains…

Comey nomination draws positive reaction from two FBI employee groups

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President Obama’s choice of James Comey to head the FBI has been welcomed by two groups representing key elements of the bureau’s workforce. The FBI Agents Association had previously backed a former special agent—House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich.—for the job. But in a Friday statement issued shortly after Obama formally nominated Comey,  the association’s president, Konrad Motyka, said the former Justice Department official has an “outstanding reputation” among agents. “We believe that Mr. Comey understands the centrality of the special agent to the bureau’s mission of protecting our country from criminal and terrorist threats,” Motyka said. “We look forward…

Contract executive convicted in snooping case

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One morning in August 2011, the vice president of an information technology contractor for the federal government awoke, checked his BlackBerry and noticed something strange. Overnight, as court records would later go on to describe, someone had sent an email from the unnamed executive’s work account to a former employee. An internal investigation soon led to a federal probe by the FBI and the General Service Administration’s Office of Inspector General. Now, nearly two years after that unusual email, the former employee, Robert Edwin Steele, 38, stands convicted by a jury in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., of 14…

SILVER SCREEN FEDS: Stan Beeman, FBI, 'The Americans'

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Silver Screen Feds returns this week with an in-depth look at a major character from this year’s best new TV show: the Cold War spy drama “The Americans.” I’ve enjoyed watching the gifted, flawed FBI counterintelligence agent Stan Beeman unfold over this show’s premiere season. And after watching its May Day finale, I decided that Beeman is too complicated to shoehorn into a narrow “best” or “worst” category, so I’m going to examine both sides of his character. MAJOR SPOILERS for the first season follow. “The Americans” primarily focuses on Philip and Elizabeth Jennings, two KGB agents who have been…

FBI joins forces with Metallica to solve fan's murder

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In one of the least-likely team-ups imaginable, heavy metal band Metallica is working with the FBI to solve a murder. The FBI today launched a multimedia campaign — including a video PSA with Metallica singer James Hetfield — to try to find the suspected killer of Virginia Tech student and aspiring teacher Morgan Harrington. Harrington disappeared after attending an October 2009 Metallica concert at the University of Virginia. She was last seen trying to hitch a ride after the show, and her Pantera t-shirt was found nearly a month later, the FBI said. Harrington’s skeletal remains were found in a…

FBI nabs $74 million cybercrime rings

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Law enforcement agents across a dozen countries joined forces to bring down two international cyber crime rings suspected of causing $74 million in losses to more than 1 million victims, the FBI announced Wednesday. Two individuals from the northern European country Lativa were arrested Tuesday and indicted on charges filed in Minnesota, where the two allegedly created a phony advertising agency. Peteris Sahurovs, 22, and Marina Maslobojeva, 23 claimed they represented a hotel chain that wanted to purchase online advertising space on the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s news website, according to details about the indictment in a news release. Dubbed “Operation Trident Tribunal,” the coordinated effort included…

Some FBI cyber agents lack adequate skills, report finds

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A review of the FBI’s efforts to mitigate national security cyber incidents found that some field agents tasked with investigating these cases lack the technical skills and expertise to effectively do their jobs. The redacted version of the report, released Wednesday by the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General, examined the ability of the FBI-led National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force to defend against attacks on U.S. computer networks and efforts by the FBI field offices to investigate these attacks. Of the 36 agents interviewed in 10 of the FBI’s field offices, 13 said they do not have the…

Collins: Cheating scandal casts shadow on FBI

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Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is keeping pressure on the FBI to reform in the wake of a cheating scandal. Collins sent FBI Director Bob Mueller a letter Oct. 7 that said he should immediately punish those who cheated on an important exam on domestic investigations rules and privacy, and force any cheater who wasn’t fired to retake the exam. Collins also wants the FBI to conduct a department-wide review to find out if there were any other cheaters that weren’t identified by an inspector general investigation. Mueller last month said disciplinary actions are being taken against cheaters and promised to…

FBI threatens to sue Wikipedia for using seal. Really?

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In what would be the stupidest potential lawsuit in almost a month, the FBI is threatening to sue Wikipedia for posting its official seal online. The FBI appears to be concerned that no-goodniks could pull the seal from Wikipedia to make phony badges and documents. But seriously, FBI, the cat’s already out of the bag on this one. Heck, even the FBI’s own site has decent JPGs of the seal that can be found by anyone with rudimentary Google skills. Wikipedia’s response letter leans heavily on the snark, and refers to the FBI’s “creative editing” and “strategic redaction of important…

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