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Operation Legend is Bringing Surveillance Tech to Cities

Police watch while people gather for a labor march on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. April 4, 2018 in Memphis, Tennessee.
Police watch while people gather for a labor march on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. April 4, 2018 in Memphis. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

OPERATION LEGEND IS BRINGING SURVEILLANCE TECH TO CITIES

Using federal grants, cities are contracting with companies that hack smartphones and detect gunshots.

IN AUGUST, 40 federal agents arrived in Memphis. Some were already on the ground by the time U.S. Attorney Michael Dunavant announced the onset of Operation Legend and the city became, along with St. Louis, the seventh to be targeted by the Justice Department’s heavy-handed initiative to reduce violent crime. Many of the agents are on temporary assignment, working in collaboration with police; nearly half will relocate by November. But they will leave behind a city flush with grant money for local police — and heightened surveillance capabilities.

In Memphis, organizers have long battled police surveillance. The fight came to a head in 2017, when a lawsuit against the city of Memphis revealed years of close surveillance of Black Lives Matter activists and union organizers. “We knew we were being watched and monitored and surveilled,” said Hunter Demster, an activist who was tracked on social media by MPD. The suit was successful, and in 2018, a federal judge ordered an independent monitor to oversee policing in the city. Now, activists there say that Operation Legend is a serious blow.

Operation Legend and its December precursor, Operation Relentless Pursuit, are both funding surveillance technology in cities across the country. Through Operation Legend, Memphis and four other cities received grants for gunshot detection technology, which lines cities with sensors to detect gunfire, despite longstanding concerns about its efficacy. Other more opaque grants from the Justice Department, like a $1.4 million grant to Shelby County, which surrounds Memphis, in April and a $1 million grant in July to the city of Cleveland, are to be used in part for “technological solutions” or “support” for investigations.

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What Law Did We Break?

Matt Williams for The Intercept

WHAT LAW DID WE BREAK?

How the NYPD Weaponized a Curfew Against Protesters and Residents

HUSAN BLUE, his family, and his neighbors were having a cookout on the patio outside their apartment in Crown Heights. It was a warm summer night in Brooklyn. Little kids were running around and playing. People were talking and celebrating. Blue’s dad had just had a birthday, and a couple of the neighbors had new babies on the way. “It was a calm night,” Blue told me. “There was a lot of things to be happy about.” Around 11:30p.m., Blue made a run to the corner store. When the 30-year-old came back, a small army of police officers in riot gear were gathered outside his building. They were dressed, in Blue’s words, “for war.”

Blue asked his family and friends what was going on, and quickly learned that the police had ordered them to go inside. New York City was three days into a newly imposed curfew, the first in 75 years, announced in a joint statement by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo as a measure to restore order amid the protests and looting that followed the killing of George Floyd by Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin. Blue had done his research, and he was fairly certain that the curfew, which was focused on public areas, did not apply to private property. Nonetheless, there was nothing to be gained in testing the New York Police Department. “Let’s clean up,” he said. “No need to get hostile.”

The officers piled on, driving their knees into Blue’s torso. They yanked his arms behind his back and zip-tied his wrists together. Blue had shoulder surgery just four days prior, his stitches were still in. The pain was excruciating.

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Federal Government Buys Riot Gear, Increases Security Funding, Citing Coronavirus Pandemic

SACRAMENTO,CACHP officers wearing riot gear line the edge of the CA state capitol grouds after removing protesters on Friday, May 1, 2020. Over 1,500 people attending a rally at the capitol in Sacramento asking for the civil liberties and the opening of the economy, closed due to the coronavirus.   (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Officers wearing riot gear line the edge of the California state capitol grounds after removing protesters on May 1, 2020. Photo: Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT BUYS RIOT GEAR, INCREASES SECURITY FUNDING, CITING CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

THE FEDERAL government has ramped up security and police-related spending in response to the coronavirus pandemic, including issuing contracts for riot gear, disclosures show. The orders were expedited under a special authorization “in response to Covid-19 outbreak.”

The purchase orders include requests for disposable cuffs, gas masks, ballistic helmets, and riot gloves, along with law enforcement protective equipment for federal police assigned to protect Veterans Affairs facilities. The orders were expedited under a special authorization “in response to Covid-19 outbreak.”

The Veterans Affairs department, which manages nearly 1,500 health care care facilities around the country, has also extended special contracts for coronavirus-related security services.

Redcon Solutions Group, a private security company founded by Iraq War veterans, has won over $1.6 million in contracts to provide guards for “Covid-19 screening security guard services.” Similar contracts have gone out to private security firms to guard VA facilities in San FranciscoDes Moines, and Fayetteville, among others.

The increased security contracts appeared shortly after a recent Inspector General report noted an increase in absenteeism among VA employees and shortages among VA police. The IG report noted that there is “additional strain caused by the need for additional police presence for COVID-19-related screenings” of veterans at all VA health facilities and recommended the hiring of contract security services.

The VA police, as The Intercept previously reported, was not armed until 2011, when the Pentagon began providing military equipment to police forces around the country.

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River of Trash

RIVER OF TRASH

How Plastic Pollution Is Making Central American Communities Uninhabitable

THE FISHERMEN STAND thigh-deep in the muddy water as our boat pulls up to the shore, grass shushing against the hull. It is a still, cool morning and mist wicks off the river as the sun begins to rise above the trees. Down the beach, a white egret standing in the shallows takes flight in a burst of sound as the fishermen lift their net to reveal its glinting catch. Beside them, half-submerged, a plastic soda bottle noses purposefully past, toward the sea.

As I step onto shore, I notice more bits of plastic lying among the reeds, half-buried in the mud, as well as stained scraps of cloth, bits of packing foam, a single cracked plastic sandal. Just beyond, Guatemala’s Motagua River pours into the Caribbean, carrying with it a daily freight of trash washed out of overcrowded city dumps and unofficial landfills hundreds of miles upstream.

Worldwide, an estimated 80 percent of ocean plastic comes from land as “mismanaged waste.” Indeed, in Guatemala, there are almost no properly managed landfills and virtually no public water treatment plants. The result is a noxious chowder of sewage, industrial and agricultural runoff, and an ever-replenished flotilla of plastic trash, churning out from the river mouth toward the massive Mesoamerican reef, which has long supported rich biodiversity and fishing communities from Cancún to Nicaragua. Now, the beaches here and in neighboring Honduras are regularly buried in artificial tidewrack of toothbrushes, makeup containers, old syringes and bottles of IV fluid, action figures, streamers of plastic film, and foil chip bags.

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Rainforest on Fire

RAINFOREST ON FIRE

On the Front Lines of Bolsonaro’s War on the Amazon, Brazil’s Forest Communities Fight Against Climate Catastrophe

THE RIVER BASIN at the center of Latin America called the Amazon is roughly the size of Australia. Created at the beginning of the world by a smashing of tectonic plates, it was the cradle of inland seas and continental lakes. For the last several million years, it has been blanketed by a teeming tropical biome of 400 billion trees and vegetation so dense and heavy with water, it exhales a fifth of Earth’s oxygen, stores centuries of carbon, and deflects and consumes an unknown but significant amount of solar heat. Twenty percent of the world’s fresh water cycles through its rivers, plants, soils, and air. This moisture fuels and regulates multiple planet-scale systems, including the production of “rivers in the air” by evapotranspiration, a ceaseless churning flux in which the forest breathes its water into great hemispheric conveyer belts that carry it as far as the breadbaskets of Argentina and the American Midwest, where it is released as rain.

In the last half-century, about one-fifth of this forest, or some 300,000 square miles, has been cut and burned in Brazil, whose borders contain almost two-thirds of the Amazon basin. This is an area larger than Texas, the U.S. state that Brazil’s denuded lands most resemble, with their post-forest landscapes of silent sunbaked pasture, bean fields, and evangelical churches. This epochal deforestation — matched by harder to quantify but similar levels of forest degradation and fragmentation — has caused measurable disruptions to regional climates and rainfall. It has set loose so much stored carbon that it has negated the forest’s benefit as a carbon sink, the world’s largest after the oceans.

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Trump Continues Obama’s War On Whistleblowers, Arrests Another Alleged Intercept Source

Trump Continues Obama’s War On Whistleblowers, Arrests Another Alleged Intercept Source

“New drone whistleblower at The Intercept,” tweeted the outspoken CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou in October 2015. “For God’s sake don’t let @MatthewACole learn his identity.”

Intercept investigative reporter Matthew Cole has been tied both to Kiriakou’s discovery and prosecution and to that of Reality Winner, who leaked classified documents to The Intercept in 2017. Kiriakou’s comment came after the first in a series of articles was published in The Intercept titled “The Drone Papers” by Jeremy Scahill on October 15, 2015. Today, the alleged source of this report has been arrested, the third alleged Intercept source to have been prosecuted by the Trump administration.

Former US Air Force language analyst Daniel Hale has been arrested and charged with violating the Espionage Act and other offenses related to leaking classified documents to the press. Court documents didn’t reveal the identity of the journalist who received the documents, but AP reports that “details in the indictment make clear that Jeremy Scahill, a founding editor of The Intercept, is the reporter who received the leaks.”

“The source said he decided to provide these documents to The Intercept because he believes the public has a right to understand the process by which people are placed on kill lists and ultimately assassinated on orders from the highest echelons of the U.S. government,” Scahill’s 2015 article reads, quoting his source as saying, “This outrageous explosion of watchlisting — of monitoring people and racking and stacking them on lists, assigning them numbers, assigning them ‘baseball cards,’ assigning them death sentences without notice, on a worldwide battlefield — it was, from the very first instance, wrong.”

“The person who leaked these documents to The Intercept revealed that the government classified anybody killed by U.S. drone strikes—even if they weren’t the target—as militants, and that’s how they were able to insist that civilians weren’t being killed in significant numbers,” reports Reason‘s Scott Shackford.

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A War Reporter Covers “The End of Ice”–And It Will Change the Way You Think About Climate Catastrophe

2Photos: Getty Images Animation: The Intercept

A WAR REPORTER COVERS “THE END OF ICE” — AND IT WILL CHANGE THE WAY YOU THINK ABOUT CLIMATE CATASTROPHE

FOCUSING ON BREATH and gratitude, Dahr Jamail’s latest book, “The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption,” stitches together personal introspection and gut-wrenching interviews with leading climate experts. The rapidly receding glaciers of Denali National Park, home to the highest peak in North America, inspired the book’s title. “Seven years of climbing in Alaska had provided me with a front-row seat from where I could witness the dramatic impact of human-caused climate disruption,” Jamail writes.

With vividly descriptive storytelling, Jamail pushes further north into the Arctic Circle where warming is occurring at double speed. He surveys rapid changes in the Pribilof Islands, where indigenous communities have had to contend with die-offs affecting seabirds, fur seals, fish, and more — a collapsing food web. The story continues in the fragile Great Barrier Reef, utterly ravaged by the warming ocean. South Florida is faring no better: Jamail finds that 2.46 million of the state’s acreage will be submerged within his lifetime. Experts are aghast everywhere Jamail visits. In the Amazon, rich in biodiversity, the consequences are especially enormous.

“The End of Ice” readers won’t find calls for technology-based solutions, politicians, mitigating emissions, or the Green New Deal to save us.

Describing the current state of the planet, Jamail likens it to someone in hospice care. The global mean temperature is already 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Not half a decade ago, leading climate scientist James Hansen warned that that one degree would usher in a crisis of sea level rise, melting Arctic ice, and extreme weather. He concluded that the goal of limiting global warming to only 2 degrees was “very dangerous.”

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The U.S. Government’s Indictment of Julian Assange Poses Grave Threats to Press Freedom

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 11: Julian Assange gestures to the media from a police vehicle on his arrival at Westminster Magistrates court on April 11, 2019 in London, England.  After weeks of speculation Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was arrested by Scotland Yard Police Officers inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in Central London this morning. Ecuador's President, Lenin Moreno, withdrew Assange's Asylum after seven years citing repeated violations to international conventions. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

3Julian Assange gestures to the media from a police vehicle on his arrival at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on April 11, 2019 in London. Photo: Jack Taylor/Getty Images

THE U.S. GOVERNMENT’S INDICTMENT OF JULIAN ASSANGE POSES GRAVE THREATS TO PRESS FREEDOM

THE INDICTMENT OF Julian Assange unsealed today by the Trump Justice Department poses grave threats to press freedoms, not only in the U.S. but around the world. The charging document and accompanying extradition request from the U.S. government, used by the U.K. police to arrest Assange once Ecuador officially withdrew its asylum protection, seeks to criminalize numerous activities at the core of investigative journalism.

So much of what has been reported today about this indictment has been false. Two facts in particular have been utterly distorted by the DOJ and then misreported by numerous media organizations.

The first crucial fact about the indictment is that its key allegation — that Assange did not merely receive classified documents from Chelsea Manning but tried to help her crack a password in order to cover her tracks — is not new. It was long known by the Obama DOJ and was explicitly part of Manning’s trial, yet the Obama DOJ — not exactly renowned for being stalwart guardians of press freedoms — concluded that it could not and should not prosecute Assange because indicting him would pose serious threats to press freedom. In sum, today’s indictment contains no new evidence or facts about Assange’s actions; all of it has been known for years.

The other key fact being widely misreported is that the indictment accuses Assange of trying to help Manning obtain access to document databases to which she had no valid access: i.e., hacking rather than journalism. But the indictment alleges no such thing. Rather, it simply accuses Assange of trying to help Manning log into the Defense Department’s computers using a different username so that she could maintain her anonymity while downloading documents in the public interest and then furnish them to WikiLeaks to publish.

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Julian Assange Arrested in London After Ecuador Withdraws Asylum; U.S. Requests Extradition

A general view of the Ecuadorian Embassy where Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been holed out since 2012, in London, Friday, April 5, 2019. A senior Ecuadorian official said no decision has been made to expel Julian Assange from the country's London embassy despite tweets from Wikileaks that sources had told it he could be kicked out within "hours to days" on Friday. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

7Ecuador’s Embassy in London, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange lived until his arrest on Thursday. Photo: Alastair Grant/AP

Julian Assange Arrested in London After Ecuador Withdraws Asylum; U.S. Requests Extradition

This breaking news report will be updated throughout the day.

JULIAN ASSANGE, the WikiLeaks founder, was arrested on Thursday inside Ecuador’s Embassy in London, where he had lived since 2012 under diplomatic protection. London’s Metropolitan Police Service said in a statement its officers were “invited into the embassy by the Ambassador, following the Ecuadorian government’s withdrawal of asylum.”

Video of Assange being dragged from the embassy was captured on a livestream set up by Ruptly, a Russian government news agency.

Assange’s lawyer, Jen Robinson, tweeted that he had been arrested not just for breach of bail conditions in the United Kingdom, but also in relation to an American extradition request. Apparently citing Assange himself as a source, the lawyer said the warrant was for allegedly conspiring with Chelsea Manning to leak documents in 2010.

Just confirmed: #Assange has been arrested not just for breach of bail conditions but also in relation to a US extradition request. @wikileaks @khrafnsson

From #Assange: The US warrant was issued in December 2017 and is for conspiracy with Chelsea Manning @xychelsea in early 2010.

A subsequent police statement confirmed that Assange “been further arrested on behalf of the United States authorities, at 10:53 hrs after his arrival at a central London police station. This is an extradition warrant under Section 73 of the Extradition Act.”

Assange, 47, was then taken from a central London police station to Westminster Magistrates’ Court. The force explained that it acted initially on a warrant issued by that court after Assange took refuge in the embassy in 2012, violating bail conditions by not attending a hearing on his attempt to resist extradition to Sweden, where he was wanted for questioning on sexual misconduct allegations leveled against him by two women.

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New Jersey is Making Companies Pay for Toxic Contamination–Shining a New Light on a Little-Known Offender

Illustration: Soohee Cho/The Intercept

NEW JERSEY IS MAKING COMPANIES PAY FOR TOXIC CONTAMINATION — SHINING A NEW LIGHT ON A LITTLE-KNOWN OFFENDER

NEW JERSEY LAID financial responsibility for dealing with PFAS contamination squarely at the feet of the chemical companies responsible for it. The state’s Department of Environmental Protection issued a directive on Monday ordering five companies to pay the costs of dealing with the toxic chemicals that have been associated with numerous health problems, including cancer. The companies include 3M, which created both PFOA and PFOS; DuPont, the chemical giant that used PFOA to make Teflon since the 1950s at the now massively contaminated plant Chambers Works; and DuPont’s spinoff, Chemours.

Monitoring, research, and cleanup of the chemicals, which the state has already begun, is likely to ultimately total “hundreds of millions of dollars,” according to the order.

The hefty price tag reflects the state’s serious PFAS problem. New Jersey is thought to be one of the states most contaminated with these chemicals.

The hefty price tag reflects the state’s serious PFAS problem. New Jersey is thought to be one of the states most contaminated with these chemicals. Seventy percent of drinking water samples taken from 20 of New Jersey’s 21 counties contained at least one compound from the class of chemicals, according to research done in 2009 and 2010. And, last year, another state study showed that all surface water samples taken from 11 waterways and ecosystems around New Jersey contained PFAS. All the fish found there contained the chemicals as well. The state is also home to military bases that have been contaminated by firefighting foam, as well as several industrially polluted sites.

The order also announced the state’s intention to propose the lowest drinking water limits in the country for both PFOS and PFOA on April 1.

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Jeff Bezos Protests the Invasion of His Privacy, as Amazon Builds a Sprawling Surveillance State for Everyone Else

Jeff Bezos Protests the Invasion of His Privacy, as Amazon Builds a Sprawling Surveillance State for Everyone Else

THE NATIONAL ENQUIRER HAS engaged in behavior so lowly and unscrupulous that it created a seemingly impossible storyline: the world’s richest billionaire and a notorious labor abuser, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, as a sympathetic victim.

On Thursday, Bezos published emails in which the Enquirer’s parent company explicitly threatened to publish intimate photographs of Bezos and his mistress, which were apparently exchanged between the two through their iPhones, unless Bezos agreed to a series of demands involving silence about the company’s conduct.

In a perfect world, none of the sexually salacious material the Enquirer was threatening to release would be incriminating or embarrassing to Bezos: it involves consensual sex between adults that is the business of nobody other than those involved and their spouses. But that’s not the world in which we live: few news events generate moralizing interest like sex scandals, especially among the media.

The prospect of naked selfies of Bezos would obviously generate intense media coverage and all sorts of adolescent giggling and sanctimonious judgments. The Enquirer’s reports of Bezos’ adulterous affair seemed to have already played at least a significant role, if not the primary one, in the recent announcement of Bezos’ divorce from his wife of 25 years.

Beyond the prurient interest in sex scandals, this case entails genuinely newsworthy questions because of its political context. The National Enquirer was so actively devoted to Donald Trump’s election that the chairman of its parent company admitted to helping make hush payments to kill stories of Trump’s affairs, and received immunity for his cooperation in the criminal case of Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, while Bezos, as the owner of the steadfastly anti-Trump Washington Post, is viewed by Trump as a political enemy.

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Beyond BuzzFeed: The 10 Worst, Most Embarrassing U.S. Media Failures on the Trump/Russia Story

Beyond BuzzFeed: The 10 Worst, Most Embarrassing U.S. Media Failures on the Trump/Russia Story

BUZZFEED WAS ONCE notorious for traffic-generating “listicles”, but has since become an impressive outlet for deep investigative journalism under editor-in-chief Ben Smith. That outlet was prominently in the news this week thanks to its “bombshell” story about President Trump and Michael Cohen: a story that, like so many others of its kind, blew up in its face, this time when the typically mute Robert Mueller’s office took the extremely rare step to label its key claims “inaccurate.”

But in homage to BuzzFeed’s past viral glory, following are the top ten worst media failures in two-plus-years of Trump/Russia reporting. They are listed in reverse order, as measured by the magnitude of the embarrassment, the hysteria they generated on social media and cable news, the level of journalistic recklessness that produced them, and the amount of damage and danger they caused. This list was extremely difficult to compile in part because news outlets (particularly CNN and MSNBC) often delete from the internet the video segments of their most embarrassing moments. Even more challenging was the fact that the number of worthy nominees is so large that highly meritorious entrees had to be excluded, but are acknowledged at the end with (dis)honorable mention status.

Note that all of these “errors” go only in one direction: namely, exaggerating the grave threat posed by Moscow and the Trump circle’s connection to it. It’s inevitable that media outlets will make mistakes on complex stories. If that’s being done in good faith, one would expect the errors would be roughly 50/50 in terms of the agenda served by the false stories.

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Amid Internal Investigation Over Leaks to Media, The Centre for American Progress Fires Two Staffers

The logo for the Center for American Progress in seen, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018, at their office in Washington. The major liberal policy group is raising the ante on the health care debate with a new plan that builds on Medicare to guarantee coverage for all. Called “Medicare Extra for All,” the proposal to be released Feb. 22, 2018, by the Center for American Progress gives politically energized Democrats more options to achieve a long-sought goal. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
The Center for American Progress office in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 21, 2018. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP

AMID INTERNAL INVESTIGATION OVER LEAKS TO MEDIA, THE CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS FIRES TWO STAFFERS

“He is a consummate team player who will raise whatever concerns he has through proper channels, but at the end of the day, he’s on board with the team.”

One of those fired, Ken Gude, was a senior national security staffer. He worked at CAP since 2003 and previously served as the progressive think tank’s chief of staff. The notion that he would have leaked the exchange just doesn’t square with his time at CAP, said one of the sources close to the situation. “Ken loves CAP and has dedicated 15 years of his life to the organization,” said the source. “He is a consummate team player who will raise whatever concerns he has through proper channels, but at the end of the day, he’s on board with the team.”

A CAP spokesperson acknowledged two employees were fired as a result of the leak investigation, but said that the leak was not the reason they were fired: “We are not going to discuss internal personnel matters, but no one was fired at CAP for leaking or whistleblowing.” Internally, however, multiple members of CAP leadership have used the leak as the leading rationale for the firings in multiple settings, sources said. Gude did not return requests for comment.

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The FBI’s Investigation of Trump as a “National Security Threat” is Itself a Serious Danger. But J. Edgar Hoover Pioneered the Tactic

LAST WEEK, the New York Times reported that the FBI, in 2017, launched an investigation of President Trump “to consider whether the president’s own actions constituted a possible threat to national security” and specifically “whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests.” The story was predictably treated as the latest in an endless line of Beginning-of-the-End disasters for the Trump presidency, though – as usual – this melodrama was accomplished by steadfastly ignoring the now-standard, always-buried paragraph pointing out the boring fact that no actual evidence of guilt has yet emerged:

The lack of any evidence of guilt has never dampened the excitement over Trump/Russia innuendo, and it certainly did not do so here. Beyond being construed as some sort of vindication for the most deranged version of Manchurian Candidate fantasies – because, after all, the FBI would never investigate anyone unless they were guilty – the FBI’s investigation of the President as a national security threat was also treated as some sort of unprecedented event in U.S. history. “This is, without exception, the worst scandal in the history of the United States,” pronounced NBC News’ resident ex-CIA operative, who – along with a large staple of former security state agents employed by that network – is now paid to “analyze” and shape the news.

The FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of Trump is far from the first time that the FBI has monitored, surveilled and investigated U.S. elected officials who the agency had decided harboerd suspect loyalties and were harming national security. The FBI specialized in such conduct for decades under J. Edgar Hoover, who ran the agency for 48 years and whose name the agency’s Washington headquarters continues to feature in its name.

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The Infiltrator

THE INFILTRATOR

How an Undercover Oil Industry Mercenary Tricked Pipeline Opponents Into Believing He Was One of Them

A former Marine working for the private security firm TigerSwan infiltrated an array of anti-Dakota Access pipeline groups at Standing Rock and beyond.

JESSE HORNE STILL struggles to talk about the day he was kicked out of the anti-Dakota Access pipeline movement. It had been an intense week. Searching for direction and ideological fulfillment ever since Iowa’s stand against the pipeline wound down, the 20-year-old had reconnected with some of the state’s more radical pipeline opponents, and the group was now taking on drone warfare. After a protest outside a drone base in Des Moines in which Horne and several others were arrested, two of his fellow activists, Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya, sat him down and told him to stay away.

“They were asking me if I was an infiltrator,” Horne told The Intercept. “My response was absolutely not.”

There was a lot Horne says he didn’t know at the time — for one, that Reznicek and Montoya had recently been involved in a series of acts of pipeline sabotage. Between March and May 2017, above-ground valves along the Dakota Access pipeline in Iowa and South Dakota were pierced with welding torches, creating new costs for the pipeline company, Energy Transfer, and sending its security personnel into a frenzy. A few weeks after their conversation with Horne, the two women would claim responsibility for the sabotage.

Another thing Horne says he didn’t know: that someone he considered a “brother in the cause” was indeed an infiltrator. For months, a man calling himself Joel Edwards had posed as a pipeline opponent, attending protests, befriending water protectors, and paying for hotel rooms, supplies, and booze.

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Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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