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FBI seized congressional cellphone records related to Capitol attack

tear gas
© Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Gas is deployed as rioting Trump supporters breach the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021.
Within hours of the storming of the Capitol on January 6, the FBI began securing thousands of phone and electronic records connected to people at the scene of the rioting — including some related to members of Congress, raising potentially thorny legal questions.

Using special emergency powers and other measures, the FBI has collected reams of private cellphone data and communications that go beyond the videos that rioters shared widely on social media, according to two sources with knowledge of the collection effort.

In the hours and days after the Capitol riot, the FBI relied in some cases on emergency orders that do not require court authorization in order to quickly secure actual communications from people who were identified at the crime scene. Investigators have also relied on data "dumps" from cellphone towers in the area to provide a map of who was there, allowing them to trace call records — but not content — from the phones.

The cellphone data includes many records from the members of Congress and staff members who were at the Capitol that day to certify President Joe Biden's election victory. The FBI is "searching cell towers and phones pinging off cell sites in the area to determine visitors to the Capitol," a recently retired senior FBI official told The Intercept. The data is also being used to map links between suspects, which include members of Congress, they also said. (Capitol Police are reportedly investigating whether lawmakers helped rioters gain access to the Capitol as several Democrats have alleged they did, though Republican officials deny this.)

Comment: See also:


Quenelle

#FireFauci trends as he tells vaccinated people to remain under lockdown, blames Trump's 'denial' for massive death count

Fauci
© REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo
Calls for White House adviser Anthony Fauci to be fired have intensified as he continues pushing lockdown restrictions and criticizing former President Donald Trump over Covid-19 deaths.

After cautioning vaccinated individuals from resuming normal activities like dining out or attending large group events, Fauci tried clarifying his stance in a Tuesday interview with CNN, saying more relaxed guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be coming "soon."

The agency, Fauci said, needs to "sit down, talk about it, look at the data and then come out with a recommendation based on the science."

"Common sense tells you that, in fact, you don't have to be as stringent in your public health measures," he added, but "we want to get firm recommendations from the CDC."

The CDC did update its guidance earlier this month to say those who have received both doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine do not need to quarantine if they have been exposed to someone who is Covid-positive.

Comment: Many more individuals have become wise to how Fauci's defense of vaccines, masks, lockdowns, etc. - increasingly make no sense whatsoever - and what's worse - have a detrimental effect on the psychological and physical well-being of the vast majority of society.


Clipboard

'Blacklist' site asks people to report everyone who voted for Trump to 'unmask' them

Trump rally
© REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo
Conservatives are up in arms over a website that is asking people to report any acquaintance who voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.

"This is insane. The Founders are rolling over in their graves," RealClearPolitics cofounder Tim Bevan tweeted on Tuesday, including a link to the site in a subsequent tweet.


Bullseye

The US loves to accuse other nations of being unable to cope in a crisis, but the chaos in Texas shows it can't look after its own

houston storm
© Reuters
The US has finger-wagged at other countries for decades, alleging they can't care for their people. But when disaster strikes at home, America is not prepared, with the winter storm in the Lone Star State just the latest example.

The storm that ravaged Texas and moved northeast last week revealed, once again, major failures in America's infrastructure, causing unnecessary suffering, and even death, in affected areas. Power outages worsened during the week, depriving over 4 million people of electricity.

Pipes froze and burst, water treatment plants shut down and household taps stopped flowing. Even some hospitals were without water for days while people lost heat and stood in long lines searching for food. The big chill contributed to a deadly toll of over 70 fatalities across several states among people who perished from carbon monoxide poisoning, in house fires, during road accidents, and by freezing to death.

Blue Planet

Kiribati and China to develop farm land in Fiji, land had been predicted to 'disappear under a rising ocean'

Natoavatu
© Christopher Pala/The Guardian
The seaward half of the Natoavatu Estate in Fiji is used mostly to raise cattle and collect coconuts for copra. The land was purchased by Kiribati in 2014, ostensibly as a refuge for its citizens displaced by climate change, but will now be converted into a farm to help feed the nation.
A block of land the government of Kiribati bought in Fiji half a decade ago - ostensibly to serve as a refuge when their country disappeared under a rising ocean - will be transformed into a commercial farm to help feed the i-Kiribati people, with "technical assistance" from China.


Comment: Clearly the prediction that it would have been swallowed by a rising ocean has not come to pass nor do the government foresee that it will do so at anytime in the near future: Pacific atoll regrows new islands despite sea level rise


The president of Kiribati, Taneti Maamau, announced last week that China would help fulfil his administration's plan to resume farming on a 22 km sq parcel of land in Fiji, sparking widespread speculation the land would be gifted or sold to China. Maamau has ruled out any military application - "any land or sea base" - for the land.

Newspaper

In landmark case German court sentences ex-Syrian intel agent over involvement in 2011 protests crackdown

germany syrian torture
A 44-year-old former Syrian official was sentenced to jail time by a German court for crimes committed in his home country. German justice claimed jurisdiction based on universal application of law against serious crimes.

The sentence passed in the city of Koblenz marks the first time the principle of universal jurisdiction was used in Germany against a person who represented Damascus in the protracted Syrian conflict. The defendant, Eyad al-Gharib, was found guilty of being an accessory to crimes against humanity for helping the government to crack down against mass protests in 2011.

As an agent of Syria's General Intelligence Directorate, he rounded up anti-government activists in the Douma neighborhood of the Syrian capital and brought them to a clandestine detention center to be interrogated, tortured and sometimes killed, German prosecutors said. His superior at the time, identified as Anwar Raslan, is currently standing trial in Germany in a related case, with a verdict expected to arrive in October.

Comment: See also: Australia's SAS murdering Afghan civilians undeniable thanks to video footage and whistleblower exposing war crimes


Handcuffs

German court convicts 'IS recruiter' Abu Walaa

Abu Walaa
A court in the northern German city of Celle has convicted a radical Islamist preacher and three co-defendants for recruiting and radicalizing young people in Germany for the "Islamic State" terrorist group.

He has been sentenced to 10 and a half years in prison.

Prosecutors sought a sentence of 11.5 years for Abu Walaa, who is believed to be the "Islamic State" jihadist group's de facto leader in Germany.

The defense, however, demanded an acquittal, with Walaa himself declining to make a closing statement last week.

What did the court say?

The court pronounced Walaa guilty of supporting and being a member of the terrorist organization.

The judges said the Islamist preacher and his network radicalized young people — mainly in the country's Ruhr region and the state of Lower Saxony — and sent them to the IS combat zones.

Passport

Georgia's GOP-led Senate passes bill requiring ID for absentee voting

Georgia voting
© smartboy10/Getty Images/KJN
The Georgia state Senate on Tuesday passed legislation that would require voters to submit a driver's license number, state identification card number or a photocopy of an approved form of identification in order to vote absentee in the state.

Senate Bill 67 passed the upper chamber in 35-18 vote on Tuesday and now heads to the state House for consideration, The Associated Press reports.

The bill has already been met with opposition from Democrats and voting rights groups who say the legislation would make it difficult for voters who don't have a driver's license or state identification card to vote absentee. According to the AP, absentee ballots are currently tallied using signature verification.

State Sen. Larry Walker, one of the Republicans sponsoring the bill, said the bill would not affect about 97 percent of voters, according to the AP. The remaining percentage of voters, Walker said, could vote in person.

Comment: Perhaps those 230,777 persons who remain unregistered should validate their status to vote and participate in a standard voter process. Closing the loopholes and coming to a common understanding should be on both parties' agendas. Instead, this is one of many states hamstrung by party politics.


No Entry

Gab banned from three banks in three weeks due to media smears

Gab logo and bank
© Gab/Unknown
Free speech social media platform Gab has been banned from three different banks in three weeks, following repeated smears from the mainstream media.

Speaking exclusively to National File, Andrew Torba, the CEO of Gab, said that the New Tech platform was banned from three different banks in the last three weeks alone for political reasons. One of the banks told Torba on Monday morning that they could no longer do business with the site because of "all the bad things the press has written about Gab."

Following the removal of President Trump from most Big Tech platforms in the last few weeks of his presidency, New Tech social media sites like Gab skyrocketed in traffic, as millions of users flocked away from the censorship of Facebook, Twitter, and others. Gab received 272 million visits in January, outperforming legacy media competition such as NBC News, The Wall Street Journal, Breitbart, and TMZ, by a huge margin.

As a result of its increasing prominence, the free-speech platform has been subject to many smears from the mainstream media in recent weeks, claiming that the site is an "alt-right social media network," a "haven for extremists," and even claiming that the site "leads to violence.

Eye 1

Ex-aide Lindsey Boylan details sexual harassment allegations against Gov. Cuomo

andrew cuomo
© Reuters / Brendan McDermid
A former aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday provided new details to back up her claims of sexual harassment — including an allegation that New York's top elected official kissed her "on the lips" without warning inside his Manhattan office.

Lindsey Boylan — now a Democratic candidate for Manhattan borough president — made the stunning allegation in an essay posted on the Medium website.

Boylan said the incident took place after her 2018 promotion to be Cuomo's deputy secretary for economic development and special advisor to the governor — a job she initially turned down "because I didn't want to be near him."

"We were in his New York City office on Third Avenue," she wrote.

"As I got up to leave and walk toward an open door, he stepped in front of me and kissed me on the lips. I was in shock, but I kept walking."