In the latest skirmish over privacy in the cellphone age, a federal magistrate in Chicago said the FBI hadn’t presented enough facts in its application that would justify sweeping “intrusions,” including any specific information about those who might be living at a residence or their connection to a child pornography investigation.
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.
The FBI and Southern Poverty Law Center, among others, have reported a surge in hate crimes, particularly against Muslims. But how many of these incidents are there? A lack of rigorous reporting by thousands of law enforcement agencies make it impossible to know. Here’s one hint: Police in Mississippi reported no hate crimes last year.
Reports of hate crimes of all types increased about 7 percent last year. But incidents directed toward Muslims soared 67 percent in 2015 over 2014. The FBI’s annual report documented 257 anti-Muslim hate crimes — up from 154 in 2014 — and 5,850 total incidents reported to police last year, up from 5,479 incidents.
Critics believe FBI boss James Comey has displayed a worrying disregard for the norms that usually have constrained his predecessors, “straying…across the fine line that separates independence from unaccountability.” They wonder whether the next president may find him just as untouchable as J. Edgar Hoover was.
For two weeks in 2015, the bureau was a purveyor of Internet child porn with its “Operation Pacifier,” an online sting operation that led to charges against 186 people. But thousands of child-porn images were traded during the sting, and some wonder whether the FBI committed more serious crimes than those arrested.
Federal authorities have failed to bring civil rights charges against even a single officer in 702 police shootings, 215 of them fatal, in the past 15 years. “Maybe it’s a question of their priorities,” says a prominent Chicago civil rights attorney.
Crime victims and the FBI were two of the big winners in the annual battle over spending U. S. Justice Department funds. A Congressional budget deal for the current fiscal year that was finalized by negotiators early yesterday morning provided an estimated $2.26 billion for state and local organizations that help crime victims. Under a law dating from the 1980s, those groups are supposed to receive fines paid in federal cases, but Congress has long put a cap on the total. The total amounts to an increase of about 15.5 percent over the current level of support, which itself was a big increase over recent years, says the National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators, which tracks the spending. The future of funding for victims is not certain. Major fines and settlements in white-collar-crime cases have raised the fund's total to $12 billion, but executive and legislative branch leaders have insisted that some of that money go to other government functions, over the objection of victim advocates.
FBI Director James Comey disgraced himself last week when he claimed that criticisms of the police over the past year have contributed to the rise in violent crime. He added, in his October 23 speech at the University of Chicago, that he had no evidence to support this statement. Of course he doesn't have any. There is no evidence. Comey's claim sends absolutely the wrong message to the country.