The FBI At Work On Two Fronts: Waco & the Internet
Date: Tue, 11 Jul 95 18:20:43 PDT
From: Peter Langston <psl>
Subject: The FBI At Work On Two Fronts: Waco & the Internet
Subject: Waco Tear Gas: Toxic & Explosive
Forwarded-by: bostic@CS.Berkeley.EDU (Keith Bostic)
Forwarded-by: firstname.lastname@example.org (John P. Kole)
Forwarded-by: lindsey (Norman Lindsey)
Forwarded-by: cavasin@chronic (Vince Cavasin)
Forwarded-by: Ian Goddard <igoddard@CapAccess.org>
Quoting Wesley Pruden in the Washington Times (7/7/95)
"Bradley vehicles... fired CS canisters the size of footballs, called
'ferret rounds.' The CS in these rounds was suspended not in carbon
monoxide, but methylene chloride. In this state it is toxic to the skin,
eyes and respiratory tract. In a closed space, this gas is explosive. One
by product is phosgene, the deadly gas used on the battlefields of France
in World War I. The children at Waco passed away in considerable pain."
"The bureau [FBI] has used these ferret rounds twice before... In both
cases, the buildings burned quickly to the ground."
"Twenty minute after the ferret rounds were fired into the Waco compound,
the building exploded into flames. FBI bulldozers pushed debris -- perhaps
evidence -- into the fire, destroying it. The heat was so intense it melted
the flag atop a pole 25 yards distant. Someone quickly raised the heroic
banner of the ATF."
-- Wesley Pruden, The Washington Times, A4, 7/7/95
Note that the ferret rounds traveled with such force that they were reported
to have penetrated up to two walls before exploding. One of these striking
a person in the head would easily kill. But of course, as Reno said, "It
was done for the children."
-- Ian Goddard <email@example.com>
Subject: Excerpted: EFFector Online 08.11
Forwarded-by: bostic@CS.Berkeley.EDU (Keith Bostic)
* FBI to Investigate 3,000 People for E-childporn? Or Is It 30,000?
The _Cincinnati_Enquirer_ reports, June 20, that the FBI has "identified
more than 3,000 people who allegedly have violated federal law by viewing
child pornography pictures on their computers and the printing copies of
the pictures or storing them in their computer's memory" [sic] "as part of
a nationwide investigation into computerized child pornography, according
to FBI and Justice Department records."
A "high-level" FBI source indicated that the FBI is preparing to make its
move within the next few weeks - "There is a lot of pressure from Justice
[Department] to wrap this up."
According to the Justice Dept., the investigation began when Justice was
informed that some customers of America Online were exchanging pictures of
"naked children -- some engaged in sex acts with adults, animals, and other
children", according the _Cincinnati_Enquirer_, which reviewed FBI reports
on the investigation.
The investigation appears to be targeting both the posters and subsequent
downloaders of the illegal materials. This would appear to be the first
large-scale case in which both alleged posters of child pornography and
those who make copies of the online materials are under investigation.
Is it really 3000? The aforementioned FBI source told _CE_, "That number is
fluid, as there are new people being identified daily, and the lawyers will
make the final decision as to who will be included." An activist, in a June
23 news, posting warned that the FBI may plan to search as many as *thirty
thousand* or more American homes, on the pretext that these people *may
have* viewed some form of child pornography sometime, somewhere. No further
information is known at this time (e.g. whether there is any real evidence
of the alleged crimes, whether the material in question actually exists,
and if so, whether or not it is actual child pornography, or faked computer
graphics, etc.) Many questions remain to be answered. The FBI plan was
apparently "leaked", and was reported by the Rush Limbaugh show (June 21),
_USA_Today_, and newspapers in several locations, including Ft. Wayne, IN,
and Connecticut. The poster of the net.alert, W. K. Gorman, expressed some
understandable skepticism about the ethics that may be followed - or
abandoned - in the execution of the upcoming raids, citing previous cases
of serious abuse of civil liberties during search-and-seizure operations.
While one can expect that the law is followed in most cases, 3000 (not to
mention 30,000) is an awful lot of investigations and raids to conduct
The overall investigation has been elevated to "major case" status - the
highest level - by FBI officials, "who have given the green light to lead
agents to use virtually unlimited staffing and financial support, according
to FBI records", according to _CE_. That financial support has already
reached at least $250,000 - and the FBI expects it to be "much higher" in
The _CE_ coverage states that "America Online, according to FBI records, is
giving agents access to the company's customer list and telephone and
electronic billing records so agents can identify who has posted and
downloaded the child pornography pictures." AOL itself is not expected to
be subject to the investigation, or to subsequent prosecution - a good sign
in these times of increasing danger of liability to system operators.
Other signs may not be so good. Louis Sirkin of the First Amendment
Lawyer's Associations noted that though the case is "interesting", it may
pose several Constitutional problems, citing both privacy and Fourth
Amendment concerns, and adding, "There's also the issue of entrapment. In
this investigation, is the government working a sting operation? Is the FBI
luring people into this?" Sirkin called the situation "[a]nother example
of where technology is ahead of the law."
Privacy activists have been aware that something was going on for several
months. _The_Advocate_ reported, back in February, that "the FBI has
launched an extensive probe targeting people who place pornographic material
on America Online (AOL), one of the nation's largest computer services,
based in Vienna, VA. In late December the agency (FBI) subpoenaed customer
lists and telephone records from AOL and also... access to copies of users'
E-mail messages and logs of conversations between users...AOL officials
refused to say what documents are covered by the subpoena, but Pam McGraw,
the company's public relations director, said, 'We were subpoenaed for our
records, and of course we cooperated fully.'" One privacy advocate noted
that an AOL attorney said that AOL is hit with subpoenas for subscriber
information "every day".
EFF is tracking these events carefully. Besides possible civil liberties
violations during the expected raids, other problems are likely to surface
- in particular the probability that those with censorship on their agendas
will use this investigation and the resulting prosecutions to bolster their
cases for governmental control of the Internet, despite the AOL source of
the imbroglio. Activists and media watchers: Keep an eye on your local
press for coverage of the investigations, raids and prosecutions, and take
the time to correct erroneous and inflamatory reports (not to mention beat
the sensationalists to the punch by producing your own op-ed pieces,
articles, radio show calls, and letters to the editor before any poorly
informed reporters get the chance to get it wrong in the first place.)
* Jake Baker Charges Dismissed
Charges of transmission of threats across state lines against U. of Michigan
student Jake Baker were thrown out of court by US District Judge Avern Cohn
recently. Previous charges, based on Baker's posting of a violent sex
fantasy story to Usenet, which named a fellow classmate as the victim, had
already been dropped, though Baker remains suspended from the University
due to the posting. The threat transmission charges stemmed from other
online communications of Baker's - email to a Canadian that mentioned
kidnapping, rape, and other criminal activity that was not actually
committed, but only discussed. The dismissal of the charges hinged on the
failure of the prosecution to prove intent to carry out the threats.
This outcome of the case is viewed by some as a free speech victory, but by
others as a defeat for anti-hatespeech efforts, and remains rather
controversial, as was the arrest, the handling of the case's early stages
by the university, and the story that started the whole ball rolling.
Some background information on the case is available at:
© 1995 Peter Langston