Have Comey’s Double Secret Independence Day Arrestees Been Denied Presentment?

Jim Comey has used what has thus far been an infallible PR tactic since he started as FBI Director. He invites a bunch of handpicked journalists to lunch and eats them alive with his charisma, after which they dutifully report stuff that makes no sense.

In the latest incarnation, on the day after he made two unconvincing pleas for back-doors-called-front-doors to two Senate committees, hinting all the time of big threats over the Fourth, a bunch of journalists then reported that FBI had arrested some people.

Mr. Comey would not say what the plots entailed or how many people had been arrested, but he said the plotters were among more than 10 people with ties to the Islamic State — also known as ISIS or ISIL — who had been arrested across the country in the past month.

Meanwhile, more skeptical types like Dan Froomkin and Adam Johnson started reviewing FBI public announcements and even asking questions, only to have FBI respond, trust us. Froomkin found only one — yet another guy entrapped by the FBI — that looked like Comey’s claimed arrest.

I will have more to say about Comey’s discussion of terrorist arrestees who remain secret. I think they may in fact exist — indeed, I think it quite likely that FBI has already started using the enhanced material support sentences from the ironically named “USA Freedom Act” as leverage to get dopes on Twitter to turn informants into ISIS.

But the FBI has what should be a serious problem. It has been more than 3 days since July 4, since these purported arrests, well over 72 hours, the time period under which federal defendants should be presented and charged. And we’ve seen virtually no arrestees.

Where is the body? Or rather, the multiple bodies Comey insists exist?

Is the FBI subjecting these 10 guys to extended interrogations without telling the press or (potentially) even the local public defenders office so as to be able to extend the already extended “public safety” gutting of Miranda the FBI has been enacting of late? Have these defendants been denied presentment?

Where are the bodies, Comey?

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

3 replies
  1. Ronald says:

    Great post. I saw a notice about FBI arrests in the NYT and was confused till I read this.

    Just a qubble/question
    Marcie wrote:
    as leverage to get dopes on Twitter to turn informants into ISIS.

    What does this mean? To get people from Twitter to spy on ISIS?

    btw, is there general agreement that ISIS is a US/UK/Israel construct, together with PR experts.

    • emptywheel says:

      Most of the informants in this country work in the war on drugs (though terrorism informants are catching up). The FBI/DEA/PDs get them by using the extreme prison terms that came out of the 3 strikes effort as threats against them. That is, a prosecutor will say, “I can send you to prison for the rest of your life, or you can narc out the cartel-affiliated thugs you work for instead.”

      The only explanation for the increased sentence for material support that I can think of (remember, some material support is just hateful speech) is to get this kind of leverage. So it may be that when prosecutors were saying, “I can send you to prison for 15 years for your propaganda in favor of ISIS” it wasn’t working, so FBI got COngress to bump that up to 20 years, with the hope it will get more people willing to risk the liver eaters in ISIS to avoid spending their middle age in prison.

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Blackmail. Works for us, cheaper and easier than negotiating, which requires knowledge of who you’re negotiating with.
    Something tells me this sort of recruitment, despite its longstanding but now metastasized use, will come back to bite us hard. And yes, please, where is and are the bodies. Or are secret arrests now to be paired with secret laws, all to protect us of course.

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