Tag Archive: FBI

The Final Straw: A chat with Eric McDavid on prison, post-incarceration, hope, ice cream & more

ericmcdavidFrom The Final Straw

Streaming at AshevilleFM from 3am EST on April 6th through April 12th, 2015, then podcasting at radio4all.net. Also airing this week on KOWA-LPFM in Olympia, WA, KWTF in Bodega Bay, CA, KXCF in Marshall, CA, and WCRS-LP Columbus Community Radio 98.3 and 102.1 FM. The show will later be archived at TheFinalStrawRadio.NoBlogs.Org. Drop us a line at thefinalstrawradio(aT)riseup(dooot)net for suggestions or comments.

This week we’re speaking with Eric McDavid, a recently released eco-anarchist and vegan. Eric and his two co-defendants (Lauren Weiner and Zachary Jenson) were entrapped by an FBI agent provocateur who went by the name of “Anna” and arrested for allegedly planning to blow up cell-phone towers, small dams & a lab researeching genetically modifying trees. Eric was arrested in January of 2006 during an FBI raid on the cabin that “Anna” was providing for the four.

During the court case, the government prosecutors were able to turn Zachary and Lauren against their slightly older co-defendant, Eric, with threats of spending decades of their life behind bars. So, Zachary and Lauren posed Eric as their “leader” and threw him under the bus. As a result, Eric was given a 20 year sentence for what was effectively the charge of being guilty of Thought Crime.

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What I Learned From Breaking the Law

The Raines family in Michigan, August 1969

In 1971, I helped burglarize an FBI office and leaked documents that exposed J. Edgar Hoover’s abuses of power. Here’s what that experience taught me.

From The Nation/ By John Raines

I have been asked to develop a set of reflections on the moral lessons I learned from breaking the law. Here is part of that story. In 1961 I was arrested and put in jail in Little Rock, Arkansas. I was a “freedom rider.” Then, ten years later, a group of us calling ourselves “The Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI” broke into the Media, Pennsylvania office of the FBI, removed the files and released them to the news media. What did I learn from breaking the law? Here are five lessons I learned. I learned that:

1) Law is not to be trusted without interrogating its complicity with privilege and power.

2) Identity is morally problematic, especially if you get yourself born a white male of class privilege.

3) A nation that lets itself be governed by fear will become a poorly governed nation.

4) The arrogance of power contributes to its own demise when confronted by persistent resistance, and finally….

5) I learned that the anger called hope can overcome despair, create a community of resistance and build a future that seemed impossible.

Let me begin with the issue of law and criminality. It is my contention that breaking the law and committing a crime are not identical. Indeed, I would go further. I would claim that under certain circumstances not to break the law is a crime—a crime against justice. That is what I learned back in 1961 when being found guilty of “threatening a breach of the peace” when four of us—two blacks and two whites—sat down together in the “White” waiting room of the Trailways bus station in Little Rock. (more…)

Barrett Brown sentenced to 63 months for ‘merely linking to hacked material’

barretbrownThe journalist and former Anonymous member says of prison term and fine in statement: ‘They’re sending me to investigate the prison-industrial complex’

From The Guardian

In a rebuke to a legion of online supporters and what the journalist and one-time member of Anonymous called a “dangerous precedent”, Barrett Brown was sentenced to 63 months in prison by a federal judge in Dallas on Thursday.

Brown’s backers from across the web had hoped he would be able to walk free with his 31 months of time served for what they insist was “merely linking to hacked material”. But the 33-year-old, who was once considered something of a spokesman for the Anonymous movement, will face more than twice that sentence. The judge also ordered him to pay more than $890,000 in restitution and fines.

In a statement released after his sentencing, Brown was sarcastically upbeat: “Good news!” he wrote. “The US government decided today that because I did such a good job investigating the cyber-industrial complex, they’re now going to send me to investigate the prison-industrial complex.” (more…)

Federal Government Releases Environmental Activist Eric McDavid From Prison

Eric and his family reunited outside jail

Eric and his family reunited outside jail

From Civil Liberties Defense Center

On Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015, United States District Judge Morrison C. England granted a joint request by defense attorneys and the Dept. of Justice and ordered Eric McDavid released from prison with time served, because the government withheld documents from the defense at trial.

McDavid was arrested on Jan. 13, 2006 and convicted by a jury on Sept. 27, 2007 for conspiring to damage or destroy property by fire or explosive (18 U.S.C. § 844(n)).

No such property destruction occurred.

He was sentenced by Judge England on May 8, 2008 to 235 months in prison – almost the 20-year maximum.

On Thursday, Judge England accepted an alternate plea by McDavid to general conspiracy under 18 U.S.C. § 371 with a maximum sentence of 5 years. Because McDavid has already served 9 years, he will be released forthwith. (more…)

FBI’s “Suicide Letter” to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Dangers of Unchecked Surveillance

mlklettersFrom The Electronic Frontier Foundation

The New York Times has published an unredacted version of the famous “suicide letter” from the FBI to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The letter, recently discovered by historian and professor Beverly Gage, is a disturbing document. But it’s also something that everyone in the United States should read, because it demonstrates exactly what lengths the intelligence community is willing to go to—and what happens when they take the fruits of the surveillance they’ve done and unleash it on a target.

The anonymous letter was the result of the FBI’s comprehensive surveillance and harassment strategy against Dr. King, which included bugging his hotel rooms, photographic surveillance, and physical observation of King’s movements by FBI agents. The agency also attempted to break up his marriage by sending selectively edited “personal moments he shared with friends and women” to his wife.

Portions of the letter had been previously redacted. One of these portions contains a claim that the letter was written by another African-American: “King, look into your heart. You know you are a complete fraud and a great liability to all us Negroes.” It goes on to say “We will now have to depend on our older leaders like Wilkins, a man of character and thank God we have others like him. But you are done.” This line is key, because part of the FBI’s strategy was to try to fracture movements and pit leaders against one another. (more…)

For hacker Jeremy Hammond, prison is a temporary inconvenience

hacker hammondThe political activist and Anonymous hacker has big plans after his release from prison, scheduled for 2020

From Aljazeera

MANCHESTER, Ky. – Dozens of websites – many belonging to law enforcement organizations – escaped planned destruction and defacement when the FBI arrested high-profile hacker Jeremy Hammond in 2012.

“I was at the peak of my work,” Hammond told America Tonight from a medium-security, federal prison facility in Kentucky. “It’s a shame I got caught when I did.”

The political activist and computer whiz said he had already breached dozens of vulnerable websites and was “halfway finished” with preparations for a full-fledged cyberattack when federal authorities disrupted his plans. He said he was going to launch new online attacks every week. Most of his targets never even knew they were his would-be victims.

“F*ck FBI Friday,” he chuckled. “It was only heating up by the time I was arrested.”

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The Making of “Outside Agitators”

This illustration is available in poster form from artist Corina Dross, to raise funds for arrestees in Ferguson.

This illustration is available in poster form from artist Corina Dross, to raise funds for arrestees in Ferguson.

From Crimethinc.

On August 19, ten days after police murdered Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, a slew of corporate media stories appeared charging that“criminals” and “outside agitators” were responsible for clashes during the protests. CNN alleged that “all sides agree there are a select number of people—distinct from the majority of protesters—who are fomenting violence,” quoting a State Highway Patrol Captain, a State Senator, and a former FBI assistant director to confirm this.

Today’s militarized police understand that they are operating on two different battlefields at once: not only the battlefield of the streets, but also the battlefield of discourse. So long as most people remain passive, the police can harass, beat, arrest, and even kill people with impunity—certain people, anyway. But sometimes protests get “out of hand,” which is to say, they actually impact the authorities’ ability to keep the population under control. Then, without fail, police and politicians proceed to the second strategy in their playbook: they declare that they support the protesters and are there to defend their rights, but a few bad apples are spoiling the bunch. In this new narrative, the enemies of the protesters are not the police who are gassing and shooting people, but those who resist the police and their violence. When this strategy works, it enables the police to go back to harassing, beating, arresting, and killing people with impunity—certain people, anyway.

Sure enough, a few hours after these articles about “criminals” and “outside agitators” appeared, the St. Louis police killed another man less than three miles from Ferguson. Here we see how defining people as “criminals” and “outsiders” is itself an act of violence, setting the stage for further violence. You can predict police behavior at protests with a fair degree of accuracy based on the rhetoric they deploy in advance to prepare the terrain.

So when we hear them say “outside agitators,” we know the authorities are getting ready to spill blood. All the better, from their perspective, if people buy into this rhetoric and police themselves so no officer has to get his hands dirty. This is often called for in the name of avoiding violence, but self-policing returns us to the same passivity that enables police violence to occur in the first place. How many people would have even heard about Michael Brown if not for the “criminals” and “agitators” who brought his death to our attention? Self-policing also preserves the impression that we all choose this state of affairs of our own free will, reinforcing the impression that anyone who does not is anoutsider. (more…)

In Support of #PayPal14 Fundraising Drive by Jeremy Hammond

anonymous_freeanons_paypal14From New York City Anarchist Black Cross/ by Jeremy Hammond

When the banks, credit card corporations and PayPal imposed a financial blockade on WikiLeaks, Anonymous fought back with the largest coordinated electronic civil disobedience sit-in in history, inspiring others to take up the banner of hacktivism.

Outgunned and humiliated on the internet, PayPal went to their allies in law enforcement who arrested over a dozen suspected Anonymous members now known as the PayPal 14. Despite never having “exceeded authorized access,” the PayPal 14 were charged under the draconian Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) for what would typically result in misdemeanor trespassing or a disorderly conduct charge for the real world protest equivalent.

In addition to the second-class citizen status of a felony conviction, PayPal demanded an artificially inflated amount owed to them in restitution, totaling approximately $80,000. To complete the dog-and-pony show, should the fourteen meet the terms of their plea agreement, the felony will transfer to a misdemeanor on their record, while still showing, for statistical purposes, a CFAA felony win for the FBI. It is an unjust public shaming ritual that has adversely affected the lives of these 14 brave individuals. The PayPal 14 alone should not have to pay a multi-billion dollar corporation for an action in which tens of thousands of us participated in, which caused no actual loss or damage. (more…)

Running from the Devil

love4policePrison Books Update: The credibility of this interview with Steve Jablonski has been called into question. Please see comments section of this article for a written statement regarding the time Steve Jablonski spent on the run.

From CrimethInc.

An interview with grand jury resister Steve Jablonski

If you were contacted by the FBI, what would you do? Do you know who you would call? Would you be able to find a lawyer? Would you quit your job? Would you talk to your partner, your comrades, your parents? More importantly, would you talk to the government? If the FBI informed you that you were being made to stand before a grand jury, at which you could not have a lawyer present and you might face jail time if you did not answer questions—what would you do?

In 2012, several anarchists in the Pacific Northwest had to answer these questions. They were brought before the court to determine if they knew anything or anyone that was connected to a riot that broke out on May Day of that year. Three people kept their mouths shut and did several months in jail. One other person talked and was released, and quickly vanished without telling her former friends what she had done.

What follows is the experience of another person, Steve Jablonski, who took another route. While standing in solidarity with other people in the Pacific Northwest who resisted the grand jury, Steve instead decided to leave the country in order to avoid spending time in jail. Steve, like his comrades, kept his mouth shut in the face of government repression, but also faced other obstacles. He had to contend with the police forces of another country, and continues to face the realities of political repression now that he has returned.

There are many ways to defy the powers that be. Sometimes, you keep your mouth shut and do a few months; other times, you flee the country. We leave it up to you, dear reader, to choose what is right for you.“Wherever you find injustice, the proper form of politeness is attack.”
–T-Bone Slim (more…)

N.S.A. Collecting Millions of Faces From Web Images

selfieFrom Corporate Media

The National Security Agency is harvesting huge numbers of images of people from communications that it intercepts through its global surveillance operations for use in sophisticated facial recognition programs, according to top-secret documents.

The spy agency’s reliance on facial recognition technology has grown significantly over the last four years as the agency has turned to new software to exploit the flood of images included in emails, text messages, social media, videoconferences and other communications, the N.S.A. documents reveal. Agency officials believe that technological advances could revolutionize the way that the N.S.A. finds intelligence targets around the world, the documents show. The agency’s ambitions for this highly sensitive ability and the scale of its effort have not previously been disclosed.

The agency intercepts “millions of images per day” — including about 55,000 “facial recognition quality images” — which translate into “tremendous untapped potential,” according to 2011 documents obtained from the former agency contractor Edward J. Snowden. While once focused on written and oral communications, the N.S.A. now considers facial images, fingerprints and other identifiers just as important to its mission of tracking suspected terrorists and other intelligence targets, the documents show.

“It’s not just the traditional communications we’re after: It’s taking a full-arsenal approach that digitally exploits the clues a target leaves behind in their regular activities on the net to compile biographic and biometric information” that can help “implement precision targeting,” noted a 2010 document. (more…)