Tag Archives: FBI

Document Reveals FBI Categorizes Proud Boys as ‘an Extremist Group with Ties to White Nationalism’

Document Reveals FBI Categorizes Proud Boys as ‘an Extremist Group with Ties to White Nationalism’

Vancouver, WA — An internal affairs report obtained by The Sparrow Project and published today by Property of the People reveals how the FBI categorizes the Proud Boys as “an extremist group with ties to White Nationalism.”  The report, which was produced by the Clark County Sheriff’s Office in Vancouver, Washington, outlines an investigation that ultimately culminated in the termination of Deputy Sheriff Erin Willey for violations of the Office’s General Order 01.29.180 regarding non-discrimination and anti-harassment for her affiliations with the Proud Boys and her production and sale of Proud Boys’ Girls merchandise benefitting the group.

The Proud Boys is a fraternal organization of self-described “Western Chauvinists” founded by CRTV talking head Gavin McInnis.  Violence, Nationalism, misogyny, Islamophobia, transphobia, and anti-immigrant animus are frequent themes at Proud Boy events and their forums online.  Jason Kessler, organizer of the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, boasted of his Proud Boy membership in 2017 and Alexander Ramos, a Proud Boy from Georgia, was one of the men convicted of the vicious parking garage beating of Charlottesville native Deandre Harris.  Recently, 9 Proud Boys were arrested in New York City after the group engaged in a targeted beating of three anti-fascists following a reception at the Metropolitan Republican Club celebrating the 1960 televised murder of Japanese socialist Inejiro Asanuma. Proud Boys events regularly draw a motley crew of violent fascists and smarmy Trump supporters hoping for a fight, and according to the Clark County Sheriff’s report, the FBI has taken notice.

According to the report:

“The FBI categorizes the Proud Boys as an extremist group with ties to White Nationalism.  The FBI has warned local law enforcement that the Proud Boys are actively recruiting in the Pacific Northwest and that some in the group have contributed to the escalation of violence at political rallies held on college campuses, and in cities like Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington.”

The Report Continues:

“The Proud Boys were publicly categorized as an extremist group by the FBI in 2018 and a Hate Group by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2018.”

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office began investigating Willey after The Columbian received a photograph of Willey in a Proud Boys’ Girls sweatshirt alongside a photograph of Willey in her patrol uniform.  According to the investigation’s findings, the photographs were sent by Graham Hayden Jorgensen, an abusive ex-boyfriend, who remains active within the Proud Boys in the Vancouver region. Court records indicate that Jorgensen had sent text messages indicating he hoped Willey would die or get injured on the job. Jorgensen was arrested on domestic violence charges earlier this year.

You can download a copy of the Clark County Sheriff’s report via Property of the People’s document archive HERE.

A Means to an End: The FBI’s Failure to Investigate Brett Kavanaugh Highlights Double Standard in the Way the Bureau Pursues Sex Crimes

A Means to an End: The FBI’s Failure to Investigate Brett Kavanaugh Highlights Double Standard in the Way the Bureau Pursues Sex Crimes

Law enforcement is inconsistent in both how they investigate sex crimes and who they choose to investigate.  This inconsistency is often purposeful, and woefully apparent as the Senators tasked with confirming Brett Kavanaugh are overwhelmingly aligned with the interests of the evangelical right.

I know this inconsistency first hand because I was sexually assaulted four years ago by a prominent environmental activist. When the FBI became interested in my abuser, the FBI used my story and their professed sympathy with the #MeToo movement to try to gain my trust. The agent told me that she cared about how women were treated and said she wanted to seek justice because of my story.  However, it quickly became apparent that the agent’s concern for me was disingenuous.

Over the course of several months,  the FBI agent called me repeatedly offering to help me by investigating potential criminal charges against the man who sexually assaulted me four years ago.  As reported in The Intercept, it was clear the FBI never intended to investigate the sexual assault allegations or bring criminal charges against my abuser. They were harassing me, preying on my desire for accountability, and misappropriating the #MeToo movement for their own agenda to get information on the activist that was unrelated to my assault.

The Republican Senators and Trump administration publicly stating that investigating the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh is not really something that the FBI does is a punch in the gut to all sexual assault survivors. President Trump has the statutory authority to ask the FBI to begin an investigation immediately.  Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee can recommend to the President that he ask the FBI to investigate the allegations —in fact in 1991 then Senator Joe Biden did just that when he asked then President George HW Bush to call on the FBI to investigate the allegations against Clarence Thomas. Moreover, Maryland State Police currently have the authority to investigate the allegations against Kavanaugh, as Maryland has no statute of limitations on the prosecution of attempted rape charges. However, today partisan leaders on capitol hill care more about advancing this president’s nominee, and taking away women’s reproductive autonomy, than they do about investigating serious allegations levied against a man tasked with overseeing the highest court in the land. Their base, the evangelical right, is more concerned about taking away women’s reproductive autonomy than finding out whether a potential supreme court justice sexually violated at least two women and may have been present for the rape of a third woman.  I have seen little “morality” from the people who used to claim to be the “moral majority.”

The FBI not investigating Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations against Brett Kavanaugh confirms that the men currently in power have little interest in holding powerful men accountable for the crimes they commit against women.

If the FBI really did care about the #MeToo movement, as they stated to me, then they would investigate Dr. Ford, Ms. Ramirez, and Mrs. Swetnick’s allegations.  If they have the resources to harass a sexual assault survivor like myself for several months, they have the time, resources, and capability to investigate these women’s claims.  

It seems tragically fitting that a group of Republican men—with at least one, Mr. Trump, having been accused of sexual assault himself—stand in the way of investigating men’s sexual violence against women. Their main goal in this confirmation is to appoint someone who will  harm women by curtailing their (and my) reproductive rights.

One thing is clear, over a month ago Dr. Christine Blasey Ford requested to have the FBI investigate her allegations against Brett Kavanaugh. This hasn’t happened. But when it comes to someone the FBI wants information on, they use the #metoo movement as a guise to turn informants.  For the powerful men the state wants to protect, that’s not the FBI’s role. For the rest of us, we are just a means to an end.


Julie Henry is a biologist, conservationist, and co-founder of Saving Wild Sumatra. She is also a survivor.

Thousands of Pages of FBI, CIA, DIA and NSA Documents About Nelson Mandela Were Just Published by Property of the People

Thousands of Pages of FBI, CIA, DIA and NSA Documents About Nelson Mandela Were Just Published by Property of the People

Washington, DC — Today, on the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth, Property of the People is making all documents about Mandela obtained through it’s FOIA litigation from the FBI, CIA, DIA, and NSA available to the public.  Spanning thousands of pages, the vast majority of these documents have never before been seen by the public.

Searchable Archive of Documents Published Online Today **

For his role coordinating the movement to end apartheid in South Africa, Nelson Mandela was arrested in 1962, ultimately serving 27 years in prison. Though Mandela was freed in 1990, Mandela remained on the U.S. terror watchlist until 2008. Despite long standing public knowledge of U.S. intelligence agency assistance to apartheid South Africa, and likely involvement in Mandela’s 1962 arrest in particular, little specific public information exists on these crucial matters.

Shortly after Nelson Mandela’s death in 2013, MIT PhD candidate and Property of the People president, Ryan Shapiro, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National Security Agency (NSA), and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) for records on agency efforts to counter Mandela and his movement for racial justice in South Africa.

Shapiro’s FOIA lawsuit, which remains ongoing, has forced the intelligence agencies to release thousands of pages of illuminating documents. Shapiro has made a portion of these documents available to the public, resulting in extensive press coverage of FBI efforts to surveil and subvert Nelson Mandela and his struggle for racial justice. Some highlights of these documents are provided below.

According to Shapiro

Regarding the released FBI documents specifically:

“These documents not only bring to light politically motivated FBI spying on Mandela, they also expose something even darker. The documents reveal that, just as it did in the 1950s and 60s with Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement, the FBI aggressively investigated the U.S. and South African anti-apartheid movements as Communist plots imperiling American security. Worse still, the documents demonstrate the FBI continued its wrong-headed Communist menace investigations of Mandela and the anti-apartheid movement even after U.S. imposition of trade sanctions against apartheid South Africa, after Mandela’s globally-celebrated release from prison, and after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Ultimately, what the documents reveal is the FBI’s unflagging conflation of social justice efforts with security threats, and the FBI’s cartoonish obsession with Communist Party subversion in the United States even as the Cold War itself crumbled into obsolescence.”

Regarding the released documents more broadly:

“Democracy cannot meaningfully exist without an informed citizenry, and such a citizenry is impossible without broad public access to information about the operations of government. Secrecy is a cancer on the body of democracy. The records of government are the property of the people. Yet, unknown billions of pages are needlessly hidden from the people behind closed doors and “classified” markings. It is an honor to make public for all these critical documents about the United States’ long and continuing conflation of necessary social justice efforts with threats to American security.”

About Property of the People

Property of the People is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit transparency organization dedicated to governmental transparency in the service of democracy. The organization was co-founded by Ryan Shapiro, Jeffrey Light, and Sarahjane Blum. The organization’s motto is, “The records of government are the property of the people. It’s time we reclaim them.” Property of the People is on twitter @propOTP

Ryan Shapiro is a PhD candidate at MIT, a former research affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard, and co-founder and president of Property of the People. Politico has called Shapiro “a FOIA guru at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.” Shapiro is an historian of national security, the policing of dissent, and governmental transparency. Shapiro’s pathbreaking FOIA work has already led the FBI to declare his MIT dissertation research a threat to national security. Shapiro is on twitter @_rshapiro.

Property of the People and Shapiro are represented by Washington, DC-based FOIA specialist attorney Jeffrey Light assisted by Property of the People staff attorney, Gunita Singh.

You can support their work at propertyofthepeople.org/donate

Group Sues FBI for Documents on Previously Unknown Cyber-Enabled Surveillance Platform Named ‘Gravestone’

Group Sues FBI for Documents on Previously Unknown Cyber-Enabled Surveillance Platform Named ‘Gravestone’

Washington, DC — On Thursday, December 21, 2017, Property of the People filed a lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Investigation over the Bureau’s failure to comply with the group’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for records on the FBI’s cyber-enabled surveillance platform named “Gravestone”.

Very little is publicly known about Gravestone. In late 2016, Property of the People located information online identified by the Department of Justice (DOJ) as “metadata” about a previously unknown FBI surveillance platform named Gravestone. The metadata was posted on the DOJ’s website data.gov [screencaptures 1, 2].

The metadata and associated information on the DOJ site revealed, “Gravestone is a system consisting of an IP based camera, routers, firewalls, and a workstation to review surveillance video. The system provides Video Surveillance data to FBI field offices and is used by case agents.”

The DOJ shortly thereafter deleted the Gravestone entry from data.gov. This deletion appears to have part of a broader DOJ data.gov purge of publicly available information about FBI systems. While it is unclear precisely when the DOJ deleted the Gravestone information, the deletion appears to have occurred sometime between December 9, 2016 and January 24, 2017.

In March 2017, Property of the People submitted five Freedom of Information Act requests to the FBI for records on Gravestone. The FBI failed to comply with the organization’s requests within the statutorily-permitted 20-working day deadline, and therefore the FBI is in violation of the Freedom of Information Act. Consequently, earlier today, the group filed a federal lawsuit against the FBI to compel compliance with its FOIA requests.

Among other things, the transparency organization’s five FOIA requests seek FBI documents on Gravestone-related Privacy Impact Assessments (PIA), instructional and training materials, acquisition and maintenance records, and security incidents and misuse.

Under the E-Government Act of 2002, federal agencies are generally required to conduct Privacy Impact Assessments for all systems that collect personally identifiable information, and make these publicly available online. While it is unknown whether the DOJ and FBI consider Gravestone to be a National Security System, the DOJ’s own guidelines mandate that Privacy Impact Assessments be completed for all systems, including National Security Systems. Not only has the DOJ now purged all information about Gravestone from its website, but the FBI and DOJ have failed to make public any Privacy Impact Assessment for the FBI’s Gravestone system.

According to Property of the People Co-Founder, Ryan Shapiro:

“The FBI has a long, dark history of utilizing new surveillance technologies to facilitate violations of Americans’ civil liberties and privacy. In the interest of democracy and transparency, the public requires access to documents about this cyber-enabled FBI surveillance platform.”

Shapiro continues:

“The FBI has failed to make public, and possibly even to conduct, the legally mandated Privacy Impact Assessment for its Gravestone surveillance system, and also failed to comply with our Freedom of Information Act requests for documents about Gravestone. True to form, the FBI appears intent on conducting surveillance with abandon on Americans while simultaneously refusing to comply with even the most basic requirements of transparency about this surveillance.”

About Property of the People

Property of the People is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit transparency organization dedicated to governmental transparency in the service of democracy. The organization was co-founded by Ryan Shapiro, Jeffrey Light, and Sarahjane Blum. The organization’s motto is, “The records of government are the property of the people. It’s time we reclaim them.” Property of the People is on twitter @propOTP

Ryan Shapiro is a PhD candidate at MIT, a former research affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard, and co-founder of Property of the People. Politico has called Shapiro “a FOIA guru at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.” Shapiro is an historian of national security, the policing of dissent, and governmental transparency. Shapiro’s pathbreaking FOIA work has already led the FBI to declare his MIT dissertation research a threat to national security. Shapiro is on twitter @_rshapiro.

Property of the People and Shapiro are represented by Washington, DC-based FOIA specialist attorney Jeffrey Light assisted by Property of the People legal strategist, Gunita Singh.

FOIA Litigation Produces Letter from Senators Feinstein and Cardin Urging President Obama to Directly Respond to Russian Cyberattacks

FOIA Litigation Produces Letter from Senators Feinstein and Cardin Urging President Obama to Directly Respond to Russian Cyberattacks

Washington, DC —  Today, as a result of ongoing FOIA litigation, the US Department of State and Department of Homeland Security released four (4) documents to the newly formed transparency project Operation 45.  Among the documents released Friday afternoon were records responsive to a November 1, 2016 letter from Senators Dianne Feinstein and Benjamin Cardin wherein the Senators call on then President Barack Obama to take immediate action against Russia for intrusions into the 2016 election, which was at the moment of their letter just over a week away.