FBI arresting people for internet posts

Discussion in 'Law & Justice' started by JoakimFlorence, Jul 8, 2016.

  1. JoakimFlorence

    JoakimFlorence Banned

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    The FBI continues to prowl public posts on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites. Whatever material seems "suspicious" is followed shortly thereafter with subpoenas for user info. This is then followed up by DOJ press releases announcing the successful capture of another dangerous individual.

    As the U.S. government tries to root out homegrown jihadists, the FBI’s campaign to identify budding terrorists via the Internet before they can carry out violence is playing an increasingly prominent role. Counterterrorism experts say the approach—which relies on informants, as well as undercover agents who monitor chat rooms and target suspects—is often the best chance at disrupting terrorism before it is too late.

    However, critics counter that these tactics may target people for little more than online speech.

    “It is quite clear when you look at the court documents in these cases, that social media played a prominent role in either pushing the propaganda or connecting those being charged with like-minded folks,” said Seamus Hughes, deputy director of the Program on Extremism, referring to the George Washington University study.

    Some, though, say the government’s tactics sometimes result in federal officials pursuing suspects for little more than online speech and actions that, while troubling, may not have ever resulted in a serious terror threat.

    One case that exemplifies the complexities federal law enforcement face involves Rahatul Khan, a University of Texas student who was sentenced in September to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to a terrorism charge.

    One might think the details of these types of cases would get all sorted out in court, but critics counter that the DOJ is, in many cases, able to coax obviously impressionable and not overly-bright young men into plea agreements, in which case, no further determinations are made. Percentage-wise, few cases actually make it to argument in court because prosecutors are most often able to scare the defendant into a plea agreement.

    Read more: FBI Steps Up Pursuit of Terror Threats on Social Media


    An Akron, Ohio, man was arrested on federal charges that he solicited the murder of members of the U.S. military.

    Terrence J. McNeil, 25, appeared in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Ohio after being charged with one count of solicitation of a crime of violence.

    The charge was announced by Assistant Attorney General John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach of the Northern District of Ohio and Special Agent in Charge Stephen D. Anthony of the FBI’s Cleveland Division.

    “According to the allegations in the complaint, Terrence McNeil solicited the murder of members of our military by disseminating ISIL’s violent rhetoric, circulating detailed U.S. military personnel information, and explicitly calling for the killing of American service members in their homes and communities,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “ISIL and its followers continue to use social media in an attempt to incite violence around the world, including in the United States. The National Security Division's highest priority is counterterrorism and we will use all of our tools to disrupt threats and acts of violence against our military members and their families.”

    https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/ohio-man-arrested-soliciting-murder-members-us-military

    Tucked in amongst the banalities of everyday social media life are McNeil's more inflammatory posts (and reposts). The FBI already had him under surveillance by the time he posted the thing that bothered the agency the most.

    As Ryan J. Reilly of Huffington Post points out, it wasn't even original user-generated content that led to McNeil's arrest:

    A man from Akron, Ohio, who has supported the Islamic State online was arrested by federal authorities Thursday and charged because he allegedly "reblogged" a GIF on Tumblr that called for attacks on members of the U.S. military.

    The GIF, under the banner "Islamic State Hacking Division," reportedly loops through "several dozen photographs, purportedly of U.S. military personnel, along with their respective name, address and military branch," according to a Justice Department press release.

    "Kill them in their own lands, behead them in their own homes, stab them to death as they walk their streets thinking that they are safe," the GIF reportedly stated. McNeil allegedly reblogged the GIF on September 24. ​

    GIF is just an image format that supports animated picture frames. Of course reposts are not necessarily endorsements. You can find conservative bloggers posting excerpts of ISIS propaganda as well, with the clear intention of showing how outrageously terrible the terrorist organization is. This nuanced distinction was apparently lost in the prosecution.

    The FBI's affidavit contains little more than a thorough recounting of McNeil's ISIS/Islam-related social media posts. There's nothing in there that suggests McNeil was anything more than someone who made a bunch of ill-advised posts about ISIS and Islam. Reposting someone else's threats isn't really the same thing as rolling your own. But it was apparently enough to result in criminal charges.

    An expansive search warrant not only granted the FBI permission to perform forensic examinations of every electronic device in McNeil's possession, but to seize nearly everything else in his possession, including papers, documents, bank records, receipts, weapons, ammo, photos, airplane tickets, and, perhaps most outrageously of all:
    United States Currency in excess of $500.00, precious metals and gems, gold coins, jewelry and financial instruments, including stocks and bonds, deeds of trust, sales contracts, vehicle instruments and artwork.​
    Basically anything of economic value. Consider for a moment the costs of hiring a lawyer. This is another dirty government tactic that seeks to force the defendant to have to settle with a public defender. The government had not even secured a conviction yet and nowhere in its affidavit was it even suggested McNeil's money came from any other source than his job at a local hospital.

    (source: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/2...-down-fbi-after-reblogging-pro-isis-gif.shtml )

    Safya Roe Yassin, 38, of Buffalo, Missouri was arrested for allegedly making online threats against FBI agents on Twitter and Facebook, and posting personal information about them, as well as U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and State Department employees on social media. She also posted a threatening photo of President Obama and tweeted that a female media personality "would be better off without her head." Yassin was charged with "communicating threats of violence over the Internet".

    https://pjmedia.com/trending/2016/0...bi-agents-others-on-isis-linked-social-media/

    John Martin Roos, 61, was arrested after a search warrant was executed on his apartment for making online threatening postings about President Obama:
    Man accused of online threats against Obama says he uses social media to 'blow off steam'


    Citizens in the U.K. have also been arrested for offensive or "threatening" online posts:

    Massive Increase In Arrests For ‘Hate Speech’ On Social Media

    Peter Dow's political defence to the "criminal tweets" charge


    This is a huge slippery slope to Free Speech Rights.
     
  2. Seth Bullock

    Seth Bullock Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    And yet, if the FBI were aware of these activities, and these people actually carried out a terrorist attack, the FBI would be accused of incompetence for not "connecting the dots" in time.

    The U.S. is at war. I don't have any sympathy with Americans who side with the enemy. They're traitors.
     
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  3. JoakimFlorence

    JoakimFlorence Banned

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    The problem is, terrorism is a war that never ends. That's very threatening to freedom long-term.

    When people can be arrested for thoughtlessly typing something in an emotionally-charged discussion. Drawing the line between what constitutes free speech and what constitutes "threatening speech", who gets to decide that?

    And because of government spying, they know exactly who posts what.
    Privacy and government spying

    The internet has become like a giant panoptican, and that's threatening to the future of free speech in America.
    With all sorts of vague and open-ended laws, virtually anyone could potentially be subject to prosecution for writing something some government official does not like.
     
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  4. Seth Bullock

    Seth Bullock Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    I feel like my free speech is just fine. I've been posting my anger and dissatisfaction with my government on this site for 6 months, and I still haven't got a "knock on the door", and I don't expect to.

    There is a huge difference between free speech and treasonous solicitation of violence. Quoting your OP, "Terrence McNeil solicited the murder of members of our military by disseminating ISIL’s violent rhetoric, circulating detailed U.S. military personnel information, and explicitly calling for the killing of American service members in their homes and communities,”

    This is exactly the type of traitor who should be locked up.

    Again, we are at war with ISIL, and we have a right to defend ourselves from enemies, foreign and domestic.

    We have seen in Boston, San Bernardino, and Orlando what happens when we don't connect the dots in time.

    I could talk and talk and talk all day long and night long on the internet and not even once disseminate the enemy's propaganda or solicit the murder of our troops in their homes. So I fail to see the slippery slope.
     
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  5. Pax Aeon

    Pax Aeon Well-Known Member

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    `
    `

    You've done an excellent job of providing "sources" to bolster your argument. That's very rare here.
     
  6. JoakimFlorence

    JoakimFlorence Banned

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    It could also be incredibly easy to frame people by hacking into their Facebook or Twitter account.

    No one finds this the least bit concerning?
     
  7. AlphaOmega

    AlphaOmega Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    All you have to do is post classified information and the FBI cant arrest you nor even record their questioning of you.
     
  8. Ronstar

    Ronstar Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    im supposed to feel sorry for folks that support terrorism and try to join terrorist groups?

    nope
     
  9. JoakimFlorence

    JoakimFlorence Banned

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    Don't you think 10 years for copying and posting one picture that says "kill American soldiers" is a little extreme?

    Any one of us could do that in this thread here, all it would take is a few clicks of the mouse...

    It's kind of scary...
     
  10. liberalminority

    liberalminority Well-Known Member

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    the way the law is being applied if someone were to post that the second amendment was to defend against government tyranny, it could be interpreted as against the law.
     
  11. Guyzilla

    Guyzilla Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    ANYONE threatening Americans with murder by revolution, or secessions, should have every last gun taken from them.
     
  12. liberalminority

    liberalminority Well-Known Member

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    yes as is shown from the TV show VICE, a hacker can frame an IP address as the source of a crime.

    the shows preview is saying that the north korean attack on the hollywood executives appeared like it was framed, where the hackers broke into a machine in north korea to use their IP address as the source of the crime.
     
  13. Margot2

    Margot2 Banned

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    Sounds like a good idea to me.. Jihadis do a lot of recruiting using social media.
     
  14. DZero

    DZero Member

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    Sadly, being U.S. traitor isn't a bad thing, since the U.S. is an enemy itself. The U.S. military shouldn't be the world superpower, anyone who has supreme power will abuse it, the U.S. is no exception.
     
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  15. DZero

    DZero Member

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    There isn't a difference if you have free speech of solicitation of violence.
    How can you lock up some for it? If the government regulates everything on the internet? and spies in your home listening? Advocating a police state?
    I think if the government was a person, they should be locked up for life(possibly the death penalty).
    Government surveillance has failed to protect from terrorism and has no discernible impact on preventing terrorist activity, and it violates our liberties.
     
  16. Checkerboard Strangler

    Checkerboard Strangler Active Member

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    This liberal tends to agree with that point of view.
    If your so called "free speech" includes threats against the President and plans to carry out violent acts against elected government and innocent civilians, it's not free speech anymore and you're responsible for behavior which should be actionable in court.
    No rights are 100% absolute and all rights come with responsibilities.

    It doesn't even have to do with war either, it's just common sense.
     
  17. btthegreat

    btthegreat Well-Known Member

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    Much of the solution between how you can apply some statutory language designed to capture a real threat, and simultaneously ensure that non violent political or religious partisans are not entrapped, lies with effective and early access to legal counsel and advocacy. We have some real ignorant and confused people sitting in police custody for a very long time with multiple interrogations and offers for a deal, long before a lawyer can get even a first sit-down.

    We need to actually fund Legal Aide and be willing to pay for enough staff and hours in all of the fifty states. Its not enough to promise an attorney appointment, when they don't even get access to the file until a month has gone by and 26 hours of free interrogation hours have been logged in.

    One side has been pummeling for 6 rounds, before the other even gets his coach in the corner.
     
  18. Seth Bullock

    Seth Bullock Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    All of our liberties have some common sense limitations.

    With due process, a trial, and a prison.

    Of course not. I am advocating that the government use legal, constitutional means to do its job.

    Leaving what? Anarchy? Survival of the fittest?

    Incorrect. Government investigations have stopped some terrorist attacks before they could happen. That is not an opinion; that is a fact.

    From the Declaration of Independence ...

    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men ..."


    Murdering terrorists deprive Americans of the the Rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, and so it is the duty of government to prevent them from doing that.
     
  19. DZero

    DZero Member

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    So, confederates that support state secession should have their guns stolen by the government?
     
  20. DZero

    DZero Member

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    In order for the government to catch punish people for saying something specific, they must have people under surveillance. If not, then I guess it becomes whoever says it when the police are nearby. The U.S. government has committed many crimes itself, the state violates our liberties. Anarchy means without rulers or recognized authority, that is preferable.
    Government Surveillance fails to prevent terrorist attacks, it has marginal impact on terrorist related activities. NSA surveillance has provided very little in investigations, traditional investigate methods have always done better. It is time our government should start respecting our privacy.
     

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