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Herdman, FBI may have spied on every cell phone downtown during Cleveland protests

FBI, US Marshal, National Guard, Secret Service and even local police are using unlegislated "IMSI tracking" to identify cell phone users and search phones

CLEVELAND, OH – The anarchists who decided to destroy downtown Cleveland and commit the federal offense of entering Huntington Bank while carrying their cell phones did so as an anarchist mob.  FBI, U.S. Marshals, National Guard, Cleveland police and Cuyahoga County sheriffs deputies held back and let them vandalize and steal. They knew they’d be picked off afterwards one at a time.

Law enforcement officers know surveillance cameras are everywhere downtown.  The surveillance images from them and the “cell phone tower emulators” and “IMSI catchers” they “may” have set up to capture cell phone data from every person carrying one within the tower’s range is the unlegislated and secret tool they’ would use to track every cement, rock and pole throwing anarchist’s movement in “detail.” 

The FBI’s fake cellular towers capture signals from your cell phone that allows them to intercept and even alter your messages.

If U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Justin Herdman is concealing use of the FBI’s congressionally-unauthorized equipment to catch the anarchists by capturing every protestors cell phone data, he will prove the intent of protests to denounce law enforcement corruption by being “that” dirty federal cop.  Herdman and Cleveland FBI agents are claming they obtained a search warrant to search the IPhones of Devon Bryce Poland and Brandon Althof-Long; and that it’s how they acquired access to their cell phone texts and pictures.

In 2016 ex-FBI Director James Comey got into a battle with Apple CEO Tim Cook because the agency couldn’t unlock the IPhone of San Bernadino shooter Syed Farook.  Comey said then, “We simply want the chance, with a search warrant, to try to guess the terrorist’s passcode without the phone essentially self-destructing and without it taking a decade to guess correctly.”  Cook didn’t back down and the FBI backed away.  The federal agents had found some other way to get inside the heavily-encrypted IPhone. They never publicly-explained how..

Cell phone tower emulators and IMSI-catchers work this way.  Federal, state or local cops erect a cell phone tower emulator that looks and emulates a cell phone tower.  Your cell phone signal is blocked from the carrier you’ve contracted to provide the service; and redirected to an IMSI-catcher used by a lawbreaking federal agent or local police chief or sheriff who are usually spying on citizens without a warrant. 

Former President Barack Obama’s administration disregarded the 4th Amendment when it came to letting FBI agents use congressionally-unauthorized equipment to spy on the cell phones of U.S. citizens without warrants. Obama appears to have let ex-FBI Director James Comey use the equipment to spy on Trump and his team’s cell phones during the RNC in Cleveland.

They can listen to your calls, read your text messages, see your pictures and identify every place you’ve visited, or person you interacted with through GPS, who was carrying their phone.  If left up indefinitely the law enforcement cell towers and IMSI-catchers are capturing information from every phone in a wide area without a probable cause or a search warrant.   

Some of the cell phone information capturing units are mobile.  Published reports have revealed that FBI-owned airplanes fly regularly over the U.S. capturing large volumes of personal data from the computers and cell phones of unsuspecting citizens. 

Even though 10th generation American citizens like Art McKoy, Dr. Eugene Jordan, Frances Caldwell, Fred Barkley, Councilman Blaine Griffin, and Pakistani American attorney Subodh Chandra, were peaceful protest participants or observers, their cell phone data would have also been captured by the tower and IMSI-catcher(s).

Spying on a U.S. presidential candidate and “memos to the file.” Fired ex-FBI Director James Comey use of the Stingray and AmberJack without warrants and congressional authorization to spy on Americans is no different than John Edgar Hoover’s unlawful use of the National Crime Information Center database he created without warrants and congressional authorization. One dirty federal cop begets another dirty federal cop.

The same with journalists and bloggers doing nothing more than exercising their own 1st Amendment rights in this fascist-minded municipal corporation where “truth” and “public awareness” beyond that which we’re told is an enemy.  The same with the law enforcement officers on duty; as well as city workers.   The cell phone data captured under an FBI dragnet would include citizens driving or being driven in the area on public transportation.   It would have included RTA’s drivers.

Using the information federal agents and police captured from an unsuspecting citizen’s cell phone without search warrants becomes a problem. FBI agents appear to have solved it by working through their local “law enforcement partners” to set up citizens to be stopped by them; and using their stop as the basis for an investigation where the illegally acquired information is so-called legitimately discovered.

The “partnership” explains Herdman’s refusal to use 18 U.S.C. 241 and 242 here, as upgraded from a misdemeanor to a felony under the Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Control Act, to prosecute the FBI’s criminally-violent and constitutionally-abusive law enforcement partners.  The same equipment Herdman and FBI agents are using to pursue looters can be used to validate citizen complaints of law enforcement violence at the protest and in his district if they weren’t so “partnered up” and covering for each other.

The fake cell phone towers and IMSI-catchers are similar to the county’s 4th Amendment violating license plate readers its Russian American county executive has installed to search the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) databases without warrants. The legal way to search a citizen is through a warrant issued by a judge after probable cause is established. 

The 4th Amendment isn’t always convenient for law enforcement officers; so equipment like the Stingray, Amberjack and County Executive Armond Budish’s license plate readers are ways around it.  So is the Harris Corporation going to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a “rule” instead of the U.S. Congress for a “law.”

The 4th Amendment wasn’t an FCC consideration for letting Harris Corporation sell its unlegislated spying equipment under Tom Wheeler as the body’s chairman in 2006.  Congress and the Supreme Court of the United States have said “no” to warrantless uses of the NCIC database.  The FBI’s NCIC “rules” committee created one that bypasses Title 28, Section 534 of the United States Code and the 1974 Privacy Act. 

U.S. Attorney General Francis Biddle in 1943 ordered the FBI to stop using its criminal records history databases because it had not been authorized by Congress, a search warrant was needed to search any American whose informationwas in it; and the information J. Edgar Hoover’s agents compiled was inaccurate.

Comey did the same thing the late John Edgar Hoover did when U.S. Attorney General Francis Biddle in 1943 wrote that his criminal records history database was inaccurate and unauthorized to be searched without a warrant.  Hoover told FBI agents to ignore him.  Comey did the same thing with the NCIC and automatic license plate readers.  President Donald Trump was correct to view the FBI director he fired as dirty.

A Cleveland safety official in 2016 told me Stingray equipment was used during the Republican National Convention (RNC) in the city that year while Comey led the FBI.  The official acknowledged Trump may not have known Cleveland FBI agents the ex-director supervised under U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, during then President Barack Obama’s administration, were capturing his cell phone data, that of his children’s and of every other convention attendee’s. 

Trump has alleged the entire dossier of ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele was an elaborate set-up to cover for how the information they learned about him, retired General Michael Flynn, Rick Gates, Roger Stone and others here was acquired.  The way Steele’s report was released through the late U.S. Senator John McCain is the “parallel construction” Trump’s offered in part as set-up evidence; and it’s the same allegation Human Watch directed at FBI agents in a 2018 report about how they concealed its use. 

Retired General Michael Flynn’s Cleveland meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in 2016 was more than likely captured by the FBI’s Stringray during Steve Dettelbach’s term as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

In a 2018 Human Watch report entitled, “Dark Side: Secret origins of Evidence in US Criminal Cases, authors detailed how federal agents and local police working with crooked prosecuting attorneys use a technique called “parallel construction” to hide how they obtained evidence.  An excerpt from the report below describes the evil law enforcement trick Trump appears to think Comey used on him to catch Flynn and the others.

” … an official who wishes to keep an investigative activity hidden from courts and defendants—and ultimately from the public—can simply go through the motions of re-discovering evidence in some other way. For example, if the government learned of a suspected immigration-related offense by a person in Dallas, Texas, through a surveillance program it wished to keep secret, it could ask a Dallas police officer to follow the person’s car until she committed a traffic violation, then pull her over and start questioning her—and later pretend this traffic stop was how the investigation in her case started.

… Parallel construction removes this incentive by deliberately rendering those agents’ actions invisible to courts and defendants, and the resulting lack of accountability risks turning constitutional rights into little more than words on paper. 

… Parallel construction also means judges may never evaluate whether government uses of constantly evolving surveillance techniques adhere to the US Constitution and laws adopted by Congress, as is their role in the US system. For example, if the government were to identify a suspect in a robbery by scrutinizing a store’s security video using a new but flawed facial recognition technology it does not want to reveal, it could send an informant to talk to the suspect and report what he said—then suggest in court records that this conversation was how the investigation began.

In 2008 a 31-year-old hacker named Daniel David Rigmaiden exposed in court how FBI agents used the Harris Corporation’s Stingray to track his location through a Verizon Wireless air card he had purchased for internet service.  Rigmaiden, in U.S. District Court in Arizona, claimed the warrant FBI agents obtained only authorized Verizon Wireless to provide them with data about the air card. The use of Stingray was not authorized.  Neither was Verizon’s decision to reprogram his air card so the FBI’s spy equipment could detect it.  Rigmaiden had been filing tax returns under the names of peoplel who died and collected the refund.

Daniel Rigmaiden first exposed the FBI’s use of the Stingray under President Barack Obama’s administration in 2008.

Even though 10th generation American citizens like Art McKoy, Dr. Eugene Jordan, Frances Caldwell, Fred Barkley, Councilman Blaine Griffin, and Pakistani American attorney Subodh Chandra, were peaceful protest participants or observers, their cell phone data would have also been captured by the tower and IMSI-catcher(s).

The same with journalists and bloggers doing nothing more than exercising their own 1st Amendment rights in this fascist-minded municipal corporation where “truth” and “public awareness” beyond that which we’re told is an enemy.  The same with the law enforcement officers on duty; as well as city workers.   The cell phone data captured under an FBI dragnet would include citizens driving or being driven in the area on public transportation.   It would have included RTA’s drivers.

Tadrae McKenzie was 18 when FBI agents used a cell phone tower emulator and IMSI catcher without a warrant to track down his every movement like they did Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.; but with more specific details.

The “law enforcement partnership” explains Herdman’s refusal to use 18 U.S.C. 241 and 242 here, as upgraded from a misdemeanor to a felony under the Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Control Act of 1994, to prosecute the FBI’s criminally-violent and constitutionally-abusive law enforcement partners.  The same equipment Herdman and FBI agents are using to pursue looters can be used to validate citizen complaints of law enforcement violence at the protest and in his district if they weren’t so “partnered up” and covering for each other.

If Conwell or Griffin, in their official capacities as municipal legislators, asked Chief of Police Calvin Williams if cell phone tower emulators or IMSI-catchers were used at the protest, a 2013 case involving an 18-year-old Florida resident named Tadrae McKenzie shows the FBI would have instructed him to conceal it in a non-disclosure agreement he have signed without the Cleveland councilman’s knowledge.  Erie County’s sheriff was instructed by the FBI to dismiss the charges against McKenzie rather than reveal anything about how the American Negro was caught after he robbed a weed dealer of $130 with two other friends. 

New York state Supreme Court Judge Patrick Nemoyer exposed the FBI’s secret equipment in a ruling despite the sheriff’s claim that it was protected by “mililtary grade secrecy.”   The state’s American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also took an interest.  So did a WIRED investigative journalist who made a Freedom of Information Request to the FBI for the Stingray and Amberjack’s operators manuals.  Nemoyer didn’t buy the sheriff’s bullshit.  Over $300,000 in public funds had been spent on spy equipment and the public had a right to know how it was being used.

ACLU lawyers praised Nemoyer’s 2015 ruling and ripped law enforcement for  hiding behind a shroud of secrecy while invading the privacy of those it has sworn to protect and serve.  Attorney Mariko Hirose, lead counsel on the case, said:  “The public has a right to know how, when and why this technology is being deployed, they deserve to know what safeguards and privacy protections, if any, are in place to govern its use.”

The Harris Corporation had specifically asked the FCC not to share any information about its equipment with the public to keep “bad guys” from getting it.  That’s in an email between a Harris official and a “team” trying to get FCC approval.  That’s not the exemption the FBI used to redact damn near all of the information about it in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from a journalist. 

The 4a exemption an FBI lawyer used to hide the details in the operator’s manual meant it was a “national defense secret.”  Harris asked the FCC to hide their data as “proprietary” and so “the bad guys” couldn’t get access to it.

California’s American Civil Liberties Union in 2014 filed a complaint against the Harris Corporation with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler because of lies found in email about how it was being used in “emergencies.”  The Harris Corporation claimed police use was limited to definable emergencies.  What the ACLU learned was they were using it in literally every crime category without warrants.  

A pissed-off and privacy-protecting California’s general assembly enacted Senate Bill 178 on October 8, 2015.  It instructed California cops not to even think about using this or any other “spy on an American” Communist, Nazi and Fascist technological tool without first obtaining a “search warrant.” 

The bill would require a search warrant for electronic communication information to encompass no more information than is necessary to achieve the objective of the search and would impose other conditions on the use of the search warrant or wiretap order and the information obtained, including retention and disclosure. The bill would, subject to exceptions, require a government entity that executes a search warrant or wiretap order pursuant to these provisions to contemporaneously provide notice, as specified, to the identified target, that informs the recipient that information about the recipient has been compelled or requested, and that states the nature of the government investigation under which the information is sought. The bill would authorize a delay of 90 days, subject to renewal, for providing the notice under specified conditions that constitute an emergency.

Cell phone towers are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) pursuant to Title 47, Section 309 of the United States Code federal and local law enforcement employees are violating when they install them.  There’s no “law enforcement exception” in the law federal law enforcement officers, state police, sheriffs and local police chiefs are violating.  There’s also a worker safety element to the cell phone spying equipment that exposes law enforcement officers or even contractors they’re using to install the towers.

Fair use graphic. Toronto Star.

In 2015 the Occupational Health & Safety Administration started examinating the fatalities connected to cell phone tower installation.  91 fatalities and 17 injuries from incidents involving communication towers were recorded from 2003 through 2013. Most of the fatalities (79) were due to falls. 

Structural collapses killed an additional eight people, three fatalities involved electrocutions, and the last fatality was due to an employee being struck by a load while working on a tower. Falls were also the leading cause of injuries among communication tower workers, with 13 of 17 injuries resulting from falls.  There’s also law enforcement officer exposure to radiation depending upon how high or low the tower is installed.

Eric Jonathan Brewer
Cleveland's most influential journalist and East Cleveland's most successful mayor is an East Saint Louis, Illinois native whose father led the city's petition drive in 1969 to elect the first black mayor in 1971. Eric is an old-school investigative reporter whose 40-year body of editorial work has been demonstrably effective. No local journalist is feared or respected more. Trained in newspaper publishing by the legendary Call & Post Publisher William Otis Walker in 1978 when it was the nation's 5th largest Black-owned publication, Eric has published and edited 13 local, regional and statewide publications across Ohio. Adding to his publishing and reporting resume is Eric's career in government. Eric served as the city's highest paid part-time Special Assistant to ex-Cleveland Mayor Michael R. White. He served as Chief of Staff to ex-East Cleveland Mayor Emmanuel Onunwor; and Chief of Communications to the late George James in his capacity as the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority's first Black executive director. Eric was appointed to serve as a member of the state's Financial Planning & Supervision Commission to guide the East Cleveland school district out of fiscal emergency and $20 million deficit. Former U.S. HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson told Eric in his D.C. office he was the only mayor in the nation simultaneously-managing a municipal block grant program. Eric wrote the city's $2.2 million Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant application. A HUD Inspector General audit of his management of the block grant program resulted in "zero" audit findings. As a newspaper publisher, Eric has used his insider's detailed knowledge of government and his publications to lead the FBI and state prosecutors to investigations that resulted in criminal prosecutions of well-known elected officials in Ohio; and have helped realign Cleveland's political landscape with the defeat of candidates and issues he's exposed. Eric's stories led to the indictments of the late Governor George Voinovich's brother, Paul Voinovich of the V Group, and four associates. He asked the FBI to investigate the mayor he'd served as chief of staff for public corruption; and testified in three federal trials for the prosecution. He forced former Cuyahoga County Coroner Dr. Elizabeth Balraj to admit her investigations of police killings were fraudulent; and to issue notices to local police that her investigators would control police killing investigations. Eric's current work has resulted in Cuyahoga County Judge John Russo accepting the criminal complaint he guided an activist to file against 24 civil rights-violating police officers in the city he once led for operating without valid peace officer credentials. USA Today reporters picked up on Eric's police credentials reporting from his social media page and made it national. Eric is the author of of his first book, "Fight Police License Plate Spying," which examines the FBI and local police misuse of the National Crime Information Center criminal records history database. An accomplished trumpet player and singer whose friendship with Duke Fakir of the Four Tops resulted in his singing the show's closing song, "Can't Help Myself": Curtis Sliwa of New York's Guardian Angels counts Eric among his founding chapter leaders from the early 1980's role as an Ohio organizer of over 300 volunteer crime fighters in Cleveland, Columbus and Youngstown, Ohio. For his work as a young man Eric was recognized by Cleveland's Urban League as it's 1983 Young Man of the Year. Known in Cleveland for his encyclopedic knowledge of government and history, and intimately-connected with the region's players, every local major media outlet in Cleveland has picked up on one of Eric's stories since 1979. There is no mainstream newspaper, television or radio outlet in Cleveland that does not include an interview with Eric Jonathan Brewer in its archives over the past 40 years.

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