Journalists May Be Most at Risk (as Described) from a Presumed January 6 GeoFence Warrant
On February 22, the Intercept had a thinly sourced story reporting (heavily relying on one “recently retired senior FBI official” whose motive and access weren’t explained and one other even less-defined source) on methods used in the January 6 investigation. It started by describing something unsurprising (some of which had been previously reported): that the FBI was using emergency legal authorities to conduct an investigation in the wake of an insurrection.
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.
From there, the story made conclusions that were not borne out by the evidence presented (which is not to say that such conclusions won’t one day be supported).
In particular, the story suggested that these investigative methods were used to investigate Congress, and likewise suggested that the involvement of Public Integrity prosecutors must mean members of Congress are already the focus of the investigation and further suggesting that the location data collection tied to the investigation of members of Congress.
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 Justice Department has publicly said that its task force includes senior public corruption officials. That involvement “indicates a focus on public officials, i.e. Capitol Police and members of Congress,” the retired FBI official said.
To make the insinuation, the story misstates the intent of a Sheldon Whitehouse statement aiming to use Congressional authorities to remove coup sympathizers from committees of jurisdiction (and ignores Whitehouse’s earlier statement that calls for the kind of data collection described in the story).
On January 11, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., released a statement warning against the Justice Department getting involved in the investigation of the attack, at least regarding members of Congress, asserting that the Senate should oversee the matter.
Thus far, the story seems tailor-made to get Congress — the Republican members of which are already trying to sabotage the investigation — to start tampering with it.
Far down in the story, it also describes the orders used with more specificity — but not yet enough specificity to substantiate the claims made earlier in it.
Federal authorities have used the emergency orders in combination with signed court orders under the so-called pen/trap exception to the Stored Communications Act to try to determine who was present at the time that the Capitol was breached, the source said. In some cases, the Justice Department has used these and other “hybrid” court orders to collect actual content from cellphones, like text messages and other communications, in building cases against the rioters.
At the time I suggested the story’s conclusions went well beyond the evidence included in it. I had several concerns about the story.
First, it didn’t address the granularity of location data collected, explaining whether the data collection focused just on the Capitol building or (as the story claimed) “in the area” generally. The Capitol is, according to multiple experts, incredibly wired up, meaning that one can obtain a great deal of data specific to the Capitol building itself. That matters here, because as soon as Trump insurrectionists entered the Capitol building, they committed the trespass crimes charged against virtually all the defendants. And the people legally in the Capitol that day were largely victims and/or law enforcement. It’s not an exaggeration to say that anyone collected off location collection narrowly targeted to the Capitol building itself is either a criminal, a witness, or a victim (and often some mix of the three).
If location collection was focused on the Capitol building itself (we don’t know whether it was or not, and the reports of collection aiming to the find the person who left pipe-bombs in the neighborhood on January 5 do pose real cause for concern), it mitigates some of the concerns normally raised by the use of IMSI-catchers at public events and protests, which is that such location collection would include a large number of people who were just engaging in protected speech, as many of the people outside the Capitol were. Similarly, unlike with most geofence warrants or tower dumps, which are used to find possible leads for a crime, here, FBI had an overwhelming list of suspects from its mass of tips and video evidence already: it wasn’t relying on location data to find suspects. Plus, with normal geofence warrants and tower dumps, the vast majority of the data obtained comes from uninvolved people, posing a risk that those unrelated people could become false positives who, as a result, would get investigated closely. Here, again, anyone collected from location data inside the Capitol was by definition associated with the crime, either as witness, victim, or perpetrator.
Finally, the story not only didn’t rely on, but showed little familiarity with the hundreds of arrest affidavits released so far, which provide some explanation (albeit undoubtedly parallel constructed) for how the FBI built cases against those hundreds of people.
Well before The Intercept article was written, there were a few interesting techniques revealed in the affidavits. Perhaps the most interesting (and not specifically covered in The Intercept article, unless as a hybrid order) described identifying Christopher Spencer from the livestreams on Facebook he posted from inside the Capitol.
The government received information as part of a search warrant return that Facebook UID 100047172724820 was livestreaming video in the Capitol during these events. The government also received subscriber information for Facebook UID 100047172724820 in response to legal process served on Facebook. Facebook UID 100047172724820 is registered to Chris Spencer (“SPENCER”). SPENCER provided subscriber information, including a date of birth; current city/state, and a phone number to Facebook to create the account.
The government received three livestream videos from SPENCER’s Facebook UID 100047172724820 as part of a search warrant return. At different times during the videos, Spencer either used the rear facing camera to show himself talking, or turned the phone toward his face. Your affiant would note that the camera is capturing a reversed image of SPENCER in two of these sections of video as evidenced by the text on SPENCER’s hat. As such, reversed images are also provided below the original screenshot [my emphasis]
The first mention of the Facebook return appears before a paragraph describing an associate of Spencer’s who had seen the videos and recognized his wife, and the later paragraph describes the associate sharing a phone number for Spencer that the FBI seemed to have already received from Facebook. As written (and this structure is matched in the affidavit for Spencer’s wife, Jenny) the narrative may indicate that the FBI obtained the Facebook return before the tip and identified Spencer from the Facebook return even before receiving the tip. This is one of the strongest pieces of evidence that the FBI used data obtained from location-based collection in the Capitol from any social media source to identify an unknown subject. But, as described, it also has some protections built in. The data was obtained with a warrant, not PRTT or d-order. That means the FBI would have had to show probable cause to obtain the content (but, for the reasons I explained above, most people in the Capitol live-streaming were committing a crime). There’s also no indication here that this video was privately posted (though with a warrant the FBI would be able to obtain such videos).
All this is a read of what this paragraph might suggest about data collection. It doesn’t describe whether the data was obtained via a particularized warrant (targeting just Spencer), or whether the FBI asked Facebook to provide all live-streaming posted from within the Capitol during the insurrection (there are other early affidavits that targeted the content of Facebook via individualized warrants). In Spencer’s case, I suspect it’s the latter (there’s nothing that remarkable about Spencer’s video, except he was outside Speaker Pelosi’s office). Even so, for most people, posting from inside the Capitol during the insurrection would amount to probable cause the person was trespassing.
Even before The Intercept piece was posted I had also pointed to the affidavit for the Kansas cell of the Proud Boys. It uses location data to place one after another of the suspects “in or around” the Capitol during the insurrection: cell site data showed that the phones of Christopher Kuehne, Louis Colon, Felicia Konold were “in or around” the Capitol during the insurrection. That of Cory Konold, Felicia’s brother, was not shown to be, but,
Lawfully-obtained cell site records indicated that the FELICIA KONOLD cell called a number associated with CORY KONOLD while in or around the Capitol on January 6, 2021.
The most interesting detail in that affidavit pertained to William Chrestman. His phone wasn’t IDed off a cell site. Rather, it was IDed by connecting to Google services “in or around” the Capitol.
According to records produced by CHRESTMAN’s wireless cell phone provider in response to legal process, CHRESTMAN is listed as the owner of a cell phone number (“CHRESTMAN cell”). Lawfully-obtained Google records show that a Google account associated with the CHRESTMAN cell number was connected to Google services and was present in or around the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
A more recent document — the complaint against the southern Oath Keepers obtained on February 11 but unsealed long after that — describes the phones of those suspects in an area “includ[ing]” (but not necessarily limited to) the interior of the Capitol.
having utilized a cell site consistent with providing service to the geographic area that includes the interior of the United States Capitol building.
Unlike Spencer, the use of location data in the Proud Boys and Oath Keeper complaints seems to be used to establish probable cause. In both the militia group cases, the individuals appear to have been identified via different means (unsurprisingly, given their flamboyantly coordinated actions), with the location data being used in the affidavit to flesh out probable cause. (Undoubtedly, the FBI exploited this information far more thoroughly in an effort to map out other co-conspirators, but it is equally without doubt that the FBI had adequate probable cause to do so.)
The other day, DOJ unsealed an affidavit — that of Jeremy Groseclose — that provides more detail about the location collection at the Capitol. The FBI describes identifying Groseclose off of two tips, both on January 7, from people who had seen him post about being in the Capitol on Facebook (and in one case, remove his Facebook posts after he posted them).
Groseclose wore a gas mask for much of the time he was inside the Capitol (though wore the same clothes as he had outside), which undoubtedly made it more difficult to prove he was the person illegally inside the Capitol preventing cops from ousting the rioters.
The FBI affidavit describes times when Groseclose appears on security footage from inside the Capitol without the gas mask, but doesn’t include it. To substantiate his presence in the Capitol, the FBI included three paragraphs describing what must be a Google geofence warrant showing the device identifiers for everyone within a certain geographic area.
According to records obtained through a search warrant served on Google, a mobile device associated with [my redaction]@gmail.com was present at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Google estimates device location using sources including GPS data and information about nearby Wi-Fi access points and Bluetooth beacons. This location data varies in its accuracy, depending on the source(s) of the data. As a result, Google assigns a “maps display radius” for each location data point. Thus, where Google estimates that its location data is accurate to within 10 meters, Google assigns a “maps display radius” of 10 meters to the location data point. Finally, Google reports that its “maps display radius” reflects the actual location of the covered device approximately 68% of the time. In this case, Google location data shows that a device associated with [my redaction]@gmail.com was within the U.S. Capitol at coordinates associated with the center of the Capitol Building, which I know includes the Rotunda, at 2:56 p.m. Google records show that the “maps display radius” for this location data was 34 meters.
Law enforcement officers, to the best of their ability, have compiled a list (the “Exclusion List”) of any Identification Numbers, related devices, and information related to individuals who were authorized to be inside the U.S. Capitol during the events of January 6, 2021, described above. Such authorized individuals include: Congressional Members and Staffers, responding law enforcement agents and officers, Secret Service Protectees, otherwise authorized governmental employees, and responding medical staff. The mobile device associated with [my redaction]@gmail.com is not on the Exclusion List. Accordingly, I believe that the individual possessing this device was not authorized to be within the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021. Furthermore, surveillance footage from the Rotunda, time-stamped within a minute of 2:56 p.m., shows GROSECLOSE, in his distinctive clothing, using his cell phone in an apparent attempt to take a picture.
Records provided by Google revealed that the mobile device associated with [my redaction]@gmail.com belonged to a Google account registered in the name of “Jeremy Groseclose.” The Google account also lists a recovery SMS phone number that matches [my redaction]. The recovery email address for this account appears to be in the name of GROSECLOSE’s significant other, with whom he has two children in common. Additionally, I have reviewed subscriber records from U.S. Cellular, related to the phone number [my redaction]. This number, along with another, are connected to an account in the name of GROSECLOSE’s significant other. The billing address for this account is [my redaction]. One of GROSECLOSE’s neighbors identified [my redaction] as GROSECLOSE’s address.
This seems to confirm that FBI obtained a geofence warrant from Google, but — at least as described — it was focused on those at the Capitol, perhaps focused on the Rotunda and anything 100 feet from it. This is the kind of granularity that will exclude most uninvolved people. They may have used it (or included it in the affidavit) because by wearing a gas mask, Groseclose made it difficult to show his face in the existing film of the attack.
The affidavit suggests that the Google geofence relied not just on GPS data of users’ phones, but also Wi-Fi access points (there’s another affidavit where the suspect’s phone triggered the Capitol Wi-Fi) and Bluetooth beacons. Again, given how wired the Capitol is, this would offer a granularity to the data that wouldn’t exist in most geofence warrants.
Finally, and most interestingly, this affidavit (obtained on the same day as the The Intercept story and so presumably after the Intercept called for comment) describes that the FBI has an “Exclusion List” of everyone who had a known legal right to be in the Capitol that day. That suggests that, after such time as the FBI completed this list, they could identify which of those present in the Capitol were probably there illegally.
There are concerns about FBI putting together a list like this. After all, Members of Congress might have good Separation of Power reasons to want to keep their personal phone numbers private. That said, there’s reason to believe that the FBI has used this method of separating out congressional identifiers and creating a white list in the past (including with the Section 215 phone dragnet), with congressional approval.
The concern arises in FBI’s definition of how it describes those legally present:
- Members of Congress
- Congressional staffers
- Law enforcement responding to the insurrection (as distinct from law enforcement joining in it)
- Secret Service Protectees (AKA, Mike Pence and his family)
- Other government employees (like custodial staff)
- Medical staff
Not on this list? Journalists, not even those journalists holding valid congressional credentials covering the vote certification.
Already, there have been several cases where suspects have claimed to be present as media, only to be charged both because of their comments while present and the fact that they don’t have congressional credentials. Three are:
- Provocateur John Sullivan, who filmed the riot and sold the footage to multiple media outlets and “claimed to be an activist and journalist that filmed protests and riots, but admitted that he did not have any press credentials.”
- Nick DeCarlo, who told the LA Times he and Nicholas Ochs were there as journalists but who FBI noted, “is not listed as a credentialed reporter with the House Periodical Press Gallery or the U.S. Senate Press Gallery, the organizations that credential Congressional correspondents.”
- Brian McCreary, who on his own sent the video he took on his phone while inside the Capitol, but who later admitted to the FBI that entering the Capitol “might not have been legal” and also described admitting to cops present that he was not a member of the media.
If the FBI is going to use official credentials to distinguish journalists from trespassers, then it could also use those credentialing lists to white list journalists present at the Capitol. But to do that, the journalists in question would have to be willing to share identifying information for all the devices that were turned on at the Capitol, something they might have good reasons not to want to do.
Plus, I suspect there are a number of journalists without Congressional credentials who were covering the events outside the Capitol and, as the rally turned into a riot, entered the Capitol to cover it. Those journalists risked their lives and provided some of the most important early information about the riot and did so in ways that in no way glorified it. But in doing so, their devices may be in an FBI database relating to the attack.
There is clear evidence that the FBI obtained location data from the Capitol as part of its investigation, including Google and almost certainly Facebook. Thus far, the available evidence suggests that the ability to target that collection narrowly limits the typical concerns about tower dumps and geofence warrants (again, any similar data collection outside the Capitol in an effort to find the person who left the pipe bombs is another issue). Moreover, almost all those legal present in the Capitol appear to be whitelisted.
But not all. And the exception, journalists, include those who have the most at stake not having their devices identified and investigated by the FBI.
All that said, perhaps a similarly controversial question pertains to preservation orders. The Intercept describes a letter from Mark Warner calling on carriers to preserve data (and rightly questioning his legal authority to make such a request), then suggests the carriers have done so on their own.
Some of the telecommunications providers questioned whether Warner has the authority to make such a request, but a number of them appear to have been preserving data from the event anyway because of the large scale of violence, the source said.
The story doesn’t consider the — by far — most likely explanation, which is that FBI served very broad preservation orders on social media companies (though some key ones, such as Facebook, would keep data for a period even after insurrectionists attempted to delete it in the days after the attack as normal practice). In any case, broad preservation orders on social media companies would be solidly within existing precedent. But I suspect it may be one of the more interesting legal questions that will come out of this investigation.
Update March 7: Added McCreary.
One other thing to consider. I assume there is Wifi in the Capitol. Is there an open Wifi network? These phones by default will often connect to available Wifi, they will also share their MAC address with access points. If there are detailed network logs kept then much more granular location data may be available to investigators.
One might also compile a white list from that data. Anyone whose device had appeared in the building > X times/X days before the 6th could be white listed.
There is, most certainly, a Wifi network within the Capitol, as Marcy pointed out. Where you say “These phones by default will often connect to available Wifi”, I would add the caveat “, if so configured,”. It is my understanding that all Wifi access points, whether open or not, will register MAC addresses in the logs, whether the device connected or not. I further expect that the access points in the Capitol are not at all like home (amateur) access points, but will have an extended range of connection (more than 10 meters, because the sheer size of the Capitol will demand it, even within the Chambers), and will include extensive logs of devices within range.
Indeed, as Thomas suggests, a white list is appropriate of those who were within range (logged in or not) in the time *before* the breach of the Capitol, on a presumption that their presence was authorized in some way. Any new MACs present after the breach of the Capitol may be considered, prime facie, unauthorized interlopers.
One thing that Marcy only hinted at was the privacy guarantees of the First Amendment for journalists, as to the contents of their devices (sources and such). Whether they were “authorized” or “registered” journalists in that venue may be a moot point; it may also be moot whether they were NOT already present when the breach occurred. This is, I think, a bit of an important distinction. Or not. Argue away.
I think there’s more to it than MAC Addresses. A journalist who was listed with, for example, the Smithsonian, who happened to be in the area that day could certainly claim to be listed with some part of the U.S. Government as a journalist, so I’m not sure that ALL journalists who aren’t on the Capital’s list are in danger. It would be a very shallow journalist who didn’t have some kind of listing with some part of the Washington D.C. power structure, even if they only covered flower shows for the DC Weekly… Only a very tiny number of journalists would be in any real danger.
This is not to say that members of this tiny minority shouldn’t be protected, even those who are affiliated with the Right, but I’d guess the actual number of people who have to worry about this issue is really, really small.
There are a lot of journalists that cover Capitol Hill. A lot were there. Some easily recognizable, some not as much. But it is not just them personally, but their communications, whether to their home office and editors, or social media, or other private communications. It is a larger group than you think. Same goes for the Article I people as the Fourth
Estate people. It is not a trivial thing.
You’ve definitely got a point about their communications/data, and that is a big deal.
As to whether the FBI is going to be clueless enough to try and arrest/harass reporters, I’d very much hope they’re not that dumb, but it wouldn’t be the first time they’ve turned an easy victory in terms of their coverage into a total loss.
wow. it’s a beauty. thanks so much, marcy. very nice.
The third recitation of JG’s gmail account is unredacted, I guess accidentally.
I’m awfully curious whether Capitol Hill in general and the Capitol in particular has Stingrays as a part of its permanent security system, which would mean cell company data and location data would be corroborating and refining what investigators already have. I know the trademarked Stingrays are a bit of a blunt force method, and I’ve also wondered if there aren’t more sophisticated sniffers in place.
I am also curious what is known from wifi data due to rioters not locking down their phones. The Trump camp set up wifi networks for their demonstrations, although I don’t know if these were general purpose or limited use for staff and press, and if they were actively encouraging loyalists to turn on their wifi.
Also, if wifi is a method of filtering out legitimate journalists, knowing that phones connected to certain secured networks are journalists. Obviously this isn’t likely to pick up a random Washington Post sports photographer who hapened to be nearby and legitimately jumped in to take pictures.
I would be more surprised if the various police types in the Capitol did not. I’m also interested in why the “exclusion list” included members of Congress and staffers who had already signaled their intentions to disrupt the proceedings on 6 JAN but were apparently given a free pass (let’s remember DJT was still in the WH) because IOKIYAR.
It would seem that the commission model will be necessary, but I do not think it wise to grant immunity from prosecution like the South African truth commission did even though the GOP will doubtless demand it when they are cornered into finding the truth. Unlike SA, this is not a situation where this kind of stuff had been constantly going on for generations, instead we had DJT fluffing the rubes to be more public in the violence.
So, instead of both sides being guilty of some atrocity or another, it’s pretty clear who the seditionists and associated criminals were here in spite of GOP/Faux News/OANN/Newsmax efforts to blame “ANTIFA”. EW has laid out the evidence clearly, but will the MSM pick it up? It seems doubtful, for example given how much time they give to Gym Jordan claiming Pelosi delayed calling in the DC NG after testimony made it clear that she was never consulted by the House and Senate Sergeant-at-Arms and the DC Police Chief (all of whom resigned in disgrace from the events of 6 JAN) prior to the riot. It also doesn’t excuse DJT’s reported glee at watching this unfold, despite Kayleigh’s attempts to rewrite history (again).
When you refer to members of Congress who had signaled their intentions to disrupt the proceedings on 6 January, by “disrupt the proceedings” I guess you mean more than they announced their intention to raise objections or vote against certification.
It’s probably not easily gated as a criteria but Congress being in session is a serious obstacle for any Executive action that would include any Congressmen and/or staffers.
Congress was in session that day.
The best case is Bill Jefferson’s 2007 corruption case; Appeals Ct. ruled that FBI improperly seized material from his Congressional office.
And for those who don’t recall, this was material that FBI agents personally witnesses Jefferson try to conceal when they raided his office. Hard immunity is pretty hard immunity; especially during period that Congress is actively in session (or en route to an active session).
While there are limits, if Congressmen’s data was collected, it’s likely to be unusable even if its bona fide evidence of criminal wrongdoing. Some past precedent suggests this eventuality.
We did have a few of those, and let’s remember that their staffers were also in on this. It is a fine line about legitimate questions being raised (i.e. who decides what is “legitimate”?) and thoroughly debunked conspiracy theories regarding the EC votes that were a) already certified by their respective states, b) already had been adjudicated including the campaign’s refusal to allege vote fraud in their court filings and c) no alternate slates of electors or EV votes were provided.
The point is that for the prospective interference to have the veneer of legitimacy, there had to be a valid alternative to the process and there was not. The GOP is not giving up, since apparently AZ’s GOP is trying to overrule the voters by legislative fiat and ND’s GOP is trying to keep popular vote totals secret until after the EC meets. Since in ND the GOP holds huge supermajorities in both houses, this latter bill will likely pass and be signed into law. Imagine if DJT would have had months to harangue election officials in the dark to get his way, we’d see a different outcome.
This makes it pretty clear that some uniformity and transparency on the national level will be required to ensure the GOP can’t fiddle with the counting of the votes, a key task as identified (allegedly) by Stalin as the root of keeping power. As O’Brien noted in Orwell’s 1984, “the purpose of power is power” and the GOP actions since at least Reagan’s time (and sporadically before that) make it clear that is all the GOP cares about: power, even if it means selling out to Putin to keep it.
I suspect the members and staffers exclusion list was likely a pre-existing thing, noting folks with regular, pre-approved access to the Capitol wifi and other systems. If not, it was simply put together to distinguish people who had a right to be in a building that was otherwise closed to the public from those who weren’t.
However it was created, the exclusion list wasn’t designed to say “these folks are clean and those are possibly not” but rather a first attempt to partition folks allowed to be in the Capitol from those where were not.
It sounds like they’ve been struggling to put it together, which makes sense bc it has to include non CP law enforcement and medical responders.
I think it’s unlikely that there was any such whitelist beforehand. Setting aside the legality of it, such a record would require someone working on it full time. It’s just not realistic.
I agree with Marcy that the inclusion of journalists among these records is problematic, but am willing to cut the FBI some slack and accept that this being done in good faith. As you say, a first attempt at partitioning individuals who were on the premises. I’d still like to know whether those identifiers known to belong to journalists — for whom all suspicions have been satisfied — are being expunged from their records somehow.
Yes, Marcy is right about journalists. I may be in the minority, but I think Congressmembers and key staff are, arguably, even more problematic. Certainly have nothing for some of the obvious suspects, but collecting on Article I principals is dicey.
Hawley did not know enough to dig deeper, but there may come a day with somebody who does and asks those questions as to scope of collection, minimization and whatnot. There are legitimate questions to be asked there.
I’m definitely in that possible minority. Because next time it would be our team.
Absolutely the objections and negative votes were thoroughly dishonest. But I assume they were lawful.
And yes the continued disreputable efforts at voter suppression need everyone’s urgent attention.
The FBI doesn’t need a Stingray because AT&T and Verizon have all the data they need. What’s necessary is emergency legal authorization for law enforcement to call the phone companies to do a tower dump ASAP and change the parameters on how long to save data in their servers. “Data” for voice calls includes only call record (charging) data, not actual conversations; charging info is always kept for a long time. “Data” includes SMS or files (video) sent over the GSM data service. WiFi is from other service providers.
All very interesting. They most likely have some serious data gathering devices in the Capitol for security.
That will make it very simple to piece together which congress droids, or staffers, met with which insurrectionists for tours on 1/5. IF that happened, the FBI probably already knows who, when, where and how long.
For what it may or may not be worth, I read that Boebert filed an ethics complaint Steven Cohen who said he and a fellow lawmaker saw Boebert guiding a large group of people on a tour of the Capitol complex in the days leading up the insurrection on Jan. 6. Boebert said the only people she’d recently brought into the Capitol with with her were her children, husband, mother, aunt and uncle. Did we ever hear more about these tours, by Boebert or anyone else?
From The Hill last Friday:
More at the link.
I’m too scared to follow the link because bmaz told me not to trust The Hill…
Yes, I’m sure he did. Bmaz and I have been round and round on this . . .
The Hill has a journalism side that is fairly decent, and also seems to print opinion pieces from any lobbyist with a checkbook. When reading anything at The Hill, I always check to see which side of the house the piece is coming from.
Bmaz is more prone to simply write the whole place off.
Lol, well I guess The Hill is better than citing The Federalist, but that is as far as I’ll go. Also, their site is hideously kludgy.
Worse than Politico (aka “Tiger Beat on the Potomac” per Charlie Pierce) or Raw Story?
To my eye, yes.
Their original beat — Capitol Hill — is still pretty solid, although kooky stuff can slip in, no doubt.
I think a good comparison is the Intercept, which employs some good reporters along with some completely nutso hacks , on a par with John Solomon.
ETA I know Solomon has hung up his own shingle, just that he’s the kind of pseudo-reporter you can find in the mix at both places.
Here’s another source.
Feb. 26, 2021, 6:18 p.m. ET
Police Investigating Whether Lawmakers Gave Rioters Tour of Capitol Before Siege
Re “whitelisting”, etc.:
Some persons present prior to and then on The Day of Insurrection might well have been those rumoured to be scouting the premises, as escorted (unauthorized) by certain members of Congress and/or their staff, such as Rep. Boebert.
Others might have almost certainly been legit family members or guests, such as mentioned by Rep. Raskin at the second impeachment (speaking of his daughter and son in law).
As disappointed as I may be in some of Director Wray’s evasive responses before SJC I must give kudos for his masterful handling of Who- Me? Worried? Josh Hawley (segment ending 12:28 PM). Wray turned Hawley’s questions about FBI access to social media user data to the investigative problem of potentially impenetrable end-to-end encryption wrt the children and the predators and Hawley rolled into a dutiful nod. Wray worked (not just the truth of exploited children and other vulnerables but also) an essential element of the founding Q conspiracy theory to which Hawley must hew for his audience’s sake and it was, uh, reassuring as to each party’s relative skill compliment.
Of course the fact that this might also be seen as a class in how electeds, GOPers in particular, may hypocritically assent to ~ civil liberties violations so long as it’s not what they believe to be their liberties so encroached is another story.
Eric Geller thread on Wray’s new phrase, “user-only-access encryption”/ that aspect of Wray’s statement/testimony:
That and the use of blockchain financial transactions make it harder to “follow the money” to use the Watergate phrase. Bitcoin is merely one of many of these systems, and to manage it all takes a huge amount of power (IIRC I was reading the total tops the output of Argentina).
What is going to be more important in charging people— this type of electronic evidence, or witness testimony? As I understand it, all of this electronic stuff is mostly to open the door, but the thing the FBI mostly is looking for is eye witnesses to testify about intentions. So all of this electronic evidence is mostly just a first step, right?
Some valid innocents will get investigated here, but getting chump’d by a sleeper in the stampede or organizing/financing behind the lines is not acceptable — especially after the initial public failures. The FBI and DOJ are on a mission here, and it’s right in their wheelhouse.
This was a National Security emergency attack on Congress and the Vice President (not to mention his “Football”). This isn’t John Mulaney making a joke on SNL and then getting a visit from Trump’s Secret Service.