Earlier today Middle East Eye published a report discussing, in part, how members of the CIA working against terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS have begun to quit in fairly large numbers recently. The article goes on to imply that this is happening exclusively because of a Trump Presidency and his public quarrels with the intelligence community, but what I want to point out for my readers is that this timing may be merely incidental – other factors are at play here.
Spoiler alert, this article is based on “Anonymous sources” which people in the Trump administration have been highly critical of lately. Go ahead and call this article fake or made up or conspiracy, quite frankly I don’t give a damn.
While there is indubitably a percentage of Federal employees whom might refuse to work with Donald Trump and orchestrate his “agenda,” you can trace the origins of this mass resignation back to December 1, 2016. On this date controversial legislation was passed by US Congress which made any person attempting to conceal their identities online subject to criminal investigation at the hands of the FBI.
This legislation altered the jurisdiction given to law enforcement officials under Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure: https://www.federalrulesofcriminalprocedure.org/title-viii/rule-41-search-and-seizure/
For example, take the popular software known as Tor, originally developed by and currently/actively funded by the US Department of Defense. Under the new changes to Rule 41 any person whom owns, operates or downloads Tor is automatically qualified for a criminal investigation at the hands of the FBI. The same could be said of any person whom uses a Proxy service, VPN company or any other software/program/service that allows its user to conceal their identity or the identity of the device they are using.
Changes to Rule 41 also drastically expanded upon the jurisdiction associated with an individual search warrant. For example say the FBI got a search warrant for http://altmedi4.com, anyone whom has interacted with this site in the past or whom are on this site right now or will visit in the future will automatically qualify for a criminal investigation at the hands of the FBI through the original warrant for this site. Prior to December 1, 2016, the FBI had to apply for individual warrants for every individual person they wanted to hack/investigate – now they can just use singular warrant to hack/investigate countless numbers of people.
Here is the take of an active member of US Senate whom opposed the rule changes, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon:
Playing that logic outward, if the FBI gets a warrant for any privacy company or security company or web-page associated with one, every customer/viewer of that company or page can legally be hacked and investigated by the agency. Literally no one whom chooses to protect themselves online in the United States is allowed to keep themselves completely safe anymore, instead everyone whom conceals their identity online is treated as if they are some sort of criminal.
As you might imagine for anyone working in the US military and especially the intelligence community, being able to keep your identity “Anonymous“/concealed online is paramount to the job at hand – not to mention personal safety, especially when dealing with terrorist organizations or actual criminals.
It is for this reason that many members of the intelligence community have simply retired, quit, left their position or stopped carrying out the work they were doing. Ironically, in their greed to ‘crack down on crime’ and gain the ability to hack anyone in the world, the FBI’s new laws have made this country less safe and taken away from our Nations intelligence capabilities.
When passing these laws it appears almost as if no one at the FBI gave any thought to the fact that some, if not many, of the people whom use programs, tools or services to conceal their identities online do so to protect themselves from criminals and/or terrorists – not to be criminals themselves! Now the agency has deal with the consequences of their actions.
While I am sure portions of Middle East Eye’s article today are indeed true and the FBI is certainly not exclusively to blame for this problem, MEE is reporting from an international perspective – their article even specifically references members of the international intelligence community. What I am adding to the discussion with this article is an analysis of the problem from the perspective of the United States and American political affairs.