FBI Director James Comey cancels SXSW 2017 appearance

FBI Director James Comey will be unable to attend SXSW due to scheduling conflicts keeping him in Washington D.C., according to an SXSW statement.

“FBI General Counsel James Baker will take his place for a conversation with Jeffrey Herbst of Newseum,” Linda Park reports for SXSW.

“The pair will discuss the intersection of national security, technology and First Amendment rights,” Park reports. “In light of the Snowden revelations and the FBI vs Apple controversies, the speed at which technology has overwhelmed our regulatory and legal apparatus makes these issues particularly timely to discuss.”

Park reports, “This session will take place on March 13, 2017 at the Hilton Austin Downtown at 5:00pm.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Shocking.

U.S. FBI Director James Comey
U.S. FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director Comey calls for national talk over encryption vs. safety – August 8, 2016
Feckless FBI unable to unlock iPhone, even with a ‘fingerprint unlock warrant’ – May 12, 2016
FBI’s Comey says agency paid more than $1 million to access San Bernadino iPhone – April 21, 2016
Nothing significant found on San Bernardino’s terrorist’s iPhone – April 14, 2016
FBI director confirms hack only works on older iPhones that lack Apple’s Secure Enclave – April 7, 2016
Apple responds to FBI: ‘This case should have never been brought’ – March 29, 2016

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “First 2014, Then 2016” and “TxUser” for the heads up.]


    1. Whaaaaaat? You think WikiLeaks would cease to operate? Whistle blowers would suddenly be afraid to reveal federal overreach? Or Pence would better protect is official AOL email account? Of your source of intelligence, Twitter, would go out of business?

      I don’t follow your twisted logic. As usual. First you claim that Democrats can’t keep any secrets, then you claim they would be able to cover up any violations. FLIP FLOPPER.

    2. Let’s look at the evidence for “the deep state constitutional violations.” Readers can draw their own conclusions based on the evidence or lack thereof.

      The ultimate source of the Obama/Trump wiretap story is a right-leaning libertarian blog called Heat Street. The blogger was a former member of the UK Parliament named Louise Mensch who has since left the blog and works for Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp. While in England, she took part in the parliamentary investigation of hacking by (among others) NewsCorp.

      She claims that she was approached by two reliable sources within the counterintelligence community who informed her that the FISA Court had issued warrants to investigate “a server, possibly related to the Trump campaign, and its alleged links to two banks; SVB Bank and Russia’s Alfa Bank.”

      She says that the agents approached her, rather than a better-known or more widely-read journalist, because she had a history in England of understanding cybersecurity issues and supporting counterintelligence.

      Louise Mensch did not claim at the time—and denies now—that anybody ever told her that Mr. Trump was to be the primary personal target of that investigation, that Trump Tower was wiretapped, or that the Obama White House was involved in any fashion. Those details were apparently added by others later in the transmission of the story to add to its “truthiness.”

      She says her two anonymous sources merely told her that the FBI had gathered sufficient evidence of collusion between Russia and somebody in the extended Trump circle for the agency to convince a judge to issue a national security warrant for their communications on the server. NOTE: The FBI, like the rest of the intelligence community, denies that even that much was true.

      Ms. Mensch ran an article to that effect the night before the November election:


      Mainstream media outlets tried to confirm this story for the next four months, but were unable to find any independent confirmation. Consequently, it was largely ignored by responsible journalists. There were some oblique references to it (“There are unconfirmed reports that the FISA Court issued a warrant against some Trump associates”) but nobody except Heat Street seems to have reported it as fact. Repetitions of the rumor tended to include speculation that extended it in one way or another without any additional evidence.

      In early March, the Heat Street story (with its amplifications) was picked up by radio host Mark Levin, whose version of the tale was repeated by Breitbart News. The story only gained prominence when Levin and Breitbart used it as the basis for their otherwise unsupported conclusion that Obama had personally ordered Trump to be wiretapped as part of a “silent coup.” Their report was summarized by Fox News, thence to the President, who believed it without further proof.

      The Heat Street exclusive seems to be the sole source for the story; all of the other sources cited by Levin, Breitbart, or the White House ultimately lead back there. Let the reader decide if that is sufficient evidence of “deep state constitutional violations.”

      1. Uh, no. The applications for the FISA court warrants are now in hand. The New York Times ran a front page story with a HEADLINE reporting “Wiretaps” on the Trump Tower . . . sorry, you are simply wrong. These predate what you are claiming. This was the Obama administration at work. Have you ever heard the phrase “The buck stops here?” That was on the desk of President Harry S Truman. It literally is the truth. It now turns out that Attorney General Loretta Lynch signed off on the FISA requests for the wiretap warrants. So much for your claims of an internet blogger being the source of all this. You are just spreading more fake news.

        1. If “the applications for the FISA warrants are now in hand,” please tell us where we can see them. Those applications are not public. They are not even made available to defense lawyers and trial judges.

          I assume you are referring to the headline in the January 20, 2017, NYT: “Wiretapped Data Used in Inquiry of Trump Aides.” If not, let us know.

          To begin with, the article appeared three months after the Heat Street posting, so it is likely dependent on it.

          More importantly, the NYT article is quite clear that the “wiretaps” it refers to involved conversations between Russian officials and agents on the one hand and U.S. persons on the other. There isn’t the vaguest suggestion that the taps were not placed at the Russian end of the conversation. By January 20, we all knew that calls involving the Russian Embassy were routinely recorded. There isn’t the slightest suggestion that taps were placed on any Trump staffers that could have monitored calls to anybody but the Russians.

          Under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the FBI is required to get a warrant if it anticipates that a communication within the United States will involve a U.S. person, and not just foreign agents. Such warrants can only be issued by the FISA Court, composed of eleven Senate-confirmed judges named by the Chief Justice of the United States to seven-year terms. John Roberts and his appointees were hardly under the control of President Obama.

          The warrants are only issued on the basis of a government affidavit (typically by an FBI counterintelligence supervisor) that sets out probable cause that the U.S. person is acting on behalf of a foreign power. You cannot insist that somebody in the Trump camp was targeted under FISA without admitting that a neutral court found probable cause that they were a Russian agent. I would prefer to believe that no such warrant existed, but if you want to admit a Russian connection, be my guest.

          Under the law, any application for a FISA warrant must be signed by either the Attorney General or one of her deputies who has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate. It is hardly unusual for the AG to be involved. It just means that the law was followed, not that the process was political.

          If you listened to any of the AG confirmation hearings for Jeff Sessions, you heard him insist (under oath) that the primary duty of the AG is to follow the law, even if that conflicts with presidential directives. Any AG who made a decision on purely political grounds would be outed by hundreds of leaks from the professional prosecutors within the Justice Department.

          What would be unusual would be for anybody else in the Executive Branch to be involved. The internal Justice Department rules for FISA create walls between the staff handling national security matters and those handling other criminal or civil matters. There are very strict rules walling off the White House from Justice Department decisions. You may choose to believe that the Justice Department routinely breaks the law, but if the rules were violated in this case, we would have had a leak from a whistle-blower long before now.

          So, to repeat: the Heat Street article is the only independent “evidence” of any warrants being issued directed at the Trump camp, as distinct from being directed at employees of the Russian Federation.

        2. I’m still hearing crickets in response to every request that you and/or President Trump provide even a hint of evidence that President Obama ordered wiretaps on anybody.

        3. Who pays you to be such a fact free partisan asshole, botvinnik? You attack others for using fact and logic while offering zero verifiable data, week after week. No wonder you have no friends. Nobody can stand to listen to your incessant conspiracy theories & uncivil behavior.

      2. By the way, the investigation of those Alfa Bank and supposed trump email connection, going from both directions by independent expert forensic IT specialists have discovered the emails were essentially spam emails advertising special rates at the Trump hotel chains. . . and nothing to do with any untoward Russia/Trump campaign -conspiracy or Russia/Trump pre-inaugural involvement. They were sent by an advertising company called Cendyme who attaches the client’s name to the spam as “mail1.’client’-email.com”. Thus, Trump hotels would be “mail1.trump-email.com”.

        When both Alfa Bank and a Spectrum Health, an intermediary in this, investigated the “suspicious” emails from Trump to the “Russians” they not only found the above, the provided copies of the suspicious emails in question. Here is one such email that precipitated all of this tempest:

        Here is the header of that email:

        The mainstream media tried to bury this information. . . not confirm it.

      3. By the way, these expert analyses were done in late October 2016 and published November 1, 2016 and the resulting FACTS were sent to all of the Mainstream media who DID NOTHING WITH THESE FACTS and buried them! They did not want to know the truth as it did not advance their preferred agenda that Trump’s campaign was in cahoots with the Russians and that they had found evidence in these emails traces that email was being sent to the Russians through Alfa Bank from the Trump organization! These facts shot that down completely by refuting their “evidence” completely, so it had to be IGNORED! TRUTH was trumped by LIES.

      4. All of the mail going through the channels were generated by Cendyme’s servers, a well known but legitimate spamming advertising company that primarily works for hotel companies. It has offices in the Trump Tower. This sample provided was just one of many that cover the period since Trump begin his campaign. I should mention they examined the email images for any steganographic messages and found nothing imbedded in them.

      5. The moment when it emerged that the sole source of this revelation was Louise Mensch, I knew instantly that this was a story to take with a shovelful of salt.

        Here in the UK she has might what be referred to as having “a certain reputation” and those who know of her would immediately apply a massive weighting factor to any claim that she made.

        She once damned Sunny Handal as being the real face of British Muslims, even though he is a Sikh, born of Sikh parents and most certainly not a Muslim.

        After Leonard Cohen died, she hailed him as a sign of America’s greatness, which might have been a touching tribute if he weren’t Canadian.

        In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, she tweeted as though Charlie Hebdo was the name of an individual, instead of being the name of the satirical magazine whose premises were attacked.

        She accused Theodor Herzl of being anti-semite and claims to have blocked him from her timeline, even though he died in 1904 and is acknowledged as the father of modern Zionism. He authored two hugely influential books, Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State) in 1896 and Altneuland (The Old New Land) in 1902. To give you some idea of just how incredibly significant his work was to the people of Isreal, Tel Aviv derived it’s name from the Hebrew translation of his book Altneuland.

        When she was a British MP, she went to extraordinary lengths to support Rupert Murdoch when the British Parliament was investigating whether he was unfit to run an international company, following a scandal where his newspapers were found to have hacked the phones of hundreds of prominent people. It subsequently emerged that private committee conversations involving that investigation had been leaked to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

        It didn’t come as any sort of surprise to discover that Rupert Murdoch subsequently put her on his payroll. However it’s shocking that the President of the USA could so naive as to read anything by her and then treat it as though it were factual without properly checking the story first.

    3. Not sure if I have ever met a Libtard, but I do know quite a few Progressives, some Liberals (not the same thing despite Hillary’s Bullshit), a lot of Third Way “New” Democrats (Republican Lite) and more than a few Conservatives. I am an Independent Progressive and did not vote for Clinton or Obama.

      The Deep State has existed well before Obama and has thrived under White Houses and Congresses controlled by both major political parties. If you think Trump and his 5 Goldman Sachs appointees is doing anything other than feeding the usual suspects you will be sorely disappointed. He will be feeding the same Wall Street, Beltway, K-Street and Military-Industrial Complex animals that remain regardless of who is on power officially. The newer Security-Surveillance-Prison-Police complex has joined the old boys club and is somewhat compressed of the same faces.

      Neither Party is serving their constituents or the American People well, but are serving the usual suspects and their financial backers well. Hillary was shown by Wikileaks to be a two faced hustler for Wall Street selling herself as a “Progressive that likes to get things done”. The Kochs snap their fingers and out comes Ryan’s Republican Health Reform Scam- not ready for prime time because they are impatient. Make no mistake, those who pay the Fiddler get to call the tune.

      As to Comey, he is just the latest in a long line of Law Enforcement/Intel/Military people that want a 24/7/365 surveillance state that does not have to be bothered with civil liberties, privacy, warrants, probable cause or citizen oversight. They want secret findings by Government Lawyers, secret FISA Courts making law up out of thin air, prisons cut off from any public review or knowledge, that can hold you without counsel or presentment of charges and evidence for years on end. They cannot be bothered to be accountable and they think you would not understand, anyway. Rules are for the rabble- not the rulers or courtesans.

      Above all I am a civil libertarian. I know that rights are intrinsic to people and are not granted by government. I know that government was created by people and all the authority they hold comes from the consent of the people. Government is charged with protecting our rights- not abrogating them. They are supposed to be accountable and that precludes “Black Budget” items and programs that are off limits but to a few select members of the House and Senate which comprise and ever growing portion of the Federal Budget.

      What you have on your phone is nobody’s fucking business- mother Mark Zuckerberg, the local Cops, Google, FBI, the CIA or the NSA. You want to see it, show probable cause to a Judge and get a warrant. Our Basic Law says that we will not be denied life, liberty or property without due process of law and under English Common Law that means Habeas Corpus. It does not mean the encroaching police state that started with the War on Drugs and accelerated after 9-11.

      As a citizen, you should be able to cross the US border or board an airplane without a digital shakedown by the Government unless they have probable cause, or a warrant. You should be able to drive without your license plate being recorded and sold for profit to law enforcement. You should be able to peacefully protest without the storm troopers of militarized Cops coming to arrest you. Any Police officer that pulls you over owes you a reason why you have been stopped and that is not a violation of any law.

      Trump is serving the Deep State- he is promising to shovel money into the Private Prison, Data Mining, Defense Contracting and other industries. He is appointing people who are there to dismantle the regulations and agencies designed to protect consumers from predatory finance, consumer fraud, dangerous products and environmental damage. His new FCC Chair says it is OK for your ISP to sell your browsing history for profit, for example. He removed the rule that required your financial advisor to act in your best interest instead of his employer.

      Both Clinton and Trump were wolves looking for a key to the Henhouse and both pretended to be concerned about the common citizen. Other than spiking the TPP, I have yet to see Trump do one positive thing for our country. If you think he is looking out for you, I think with time you will see he is not.

        1. No, I am watching and my vision with my glasses is 20/10. I also make my living with my eyes- first as a Photographer/Videographer and later working in Medical Imaging (Radiology).

          Trump punked a lot of people who have been beaten down by con artists of both parties. Give it time.

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