The FBI Warns Desperate House Republicans Not To Leak Clinton Email Interview

The FBI Warns Desperate House Republicans Not To Leak Clinton Email Interview


House Republicans are have gotten the FBI’s notes from their interview with Hillary Clinton about her email server, but law enforcement is already warning the GOP not to leak any of the information in the notes.

House Republicans are have gotten the FBI’s notes from their interview with Hillary Clinton about her email server, but law enforcement is already warning the GOP not to leak any of the information in the notes.

Here is the FBI statement:

As Donald Trump slides into oblivion and takes the Republican Party with him, the GOP-controlled House Oversight Committee is trying to revive the Clinton email scandal. House Republicans are trying to build a case for the Democratic nominee to be charged with perjury, but everyone understands what is really happening.

The ranking Democratic on the House Oversight Committee Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said in a statement, “The FBI already determined unanimously that there is insufficient evidence of criminal wrongdoing. Republicans are now investigating the investigator in a desperate attempt to resuscitate this issue, keep it in the headlines, and distract from Donald Trump’s sagging poll numbers.”

Any Republican who leaks classified information from the FBI’s notes could face criminal prosecution. The fact that the FBI had to remind House Republicans not to leak all but confirms that the Republicans intend to use the information as the basis for a partisan attack against Hillary Clinton.

According to the FBI, there is no evidence that Hillary Clinton had any knowledge of, or ever intended to send classified information over her email system.

Trump is crashing and burning, so Republicans have returned to beating the dead email horse. The email story is all that Republicans have, but they better be careful. If House Republicans leak, they could be facing a world of problems with the FBI.


Trump Slams Clinton Over Emails

Donald Trump during an appearance in Raleigh, N.C., on July 5, 2016.

Gerry Broome—AP


Trump Slams Clinton Over Emails

Speaking in North Carolina just hours after Hillary Clinton and President Obama left the state, Donald Trump slammed the duo’s joint campaign appearance and accused Clinton of bribing Attorney General Loretta Lynch for favorable treatment in her email investigation

APTOPIX Clinton Emails

Why the FBI Didn’t Throw the Book at Clinton

FBI director James Comey found evidence laws were broken when secrets got onto Hillary Clinton’s personal server when she was Secretary of State, but the case wasn’t strong enough to go to court

CNN Reports FBI Has Found ‘No Criminal Wrongdoing’ in Hillary Clinton Email ‘Investigation’

From the desk of Donviejo


For all those Hillary Clinton opponents who have been hoping against hope that the likely Democratic presidential nominee will be indicted as a result of the FBI review of Hillary’s email server, CNN has some bad news. According to CNN correspondent Pamela Brown, the FBI is close to wrapping up the “investigation,” and thus far have found “no criminal wrongdoing”:

The interviews, we’re told, are focused on whether classified information was mishandled, and the security of the server. So far officials tell us, no, there is no evidence of criminal wrongdoing at this point in the investigation, but, again, the investigation is not over.

It sounds like they’re really just waiting for Hillary Clinton to be interviewed so they can wrap things up, but if Republicans and Bernie Sanders and the media are counting on Hillary Clinton to suddenly crack under questioning, they haven’t been paying attention.

Now, I know many of you are probably wondering what makes this report different from all the other Emailgate reports that people like me dismiss, and it is a good question. The answer is in the attribution, as found in CNN’s online report, which is curiously headlined to ignore the newsworthy exculpatory finding:

Some of Hillary Clinton’s closest aides, including her longtime adviser Huma Abedin, have provided interviews to federal investigators, as the FBI probe into the security of her private email server nears completion, U.S. officials briefed on the investigation tell CNN. The investigation is still ongoing, but so far investigators haven’t found evidence to prove that Clinton willfully violated the law the U.S. officials say.

In recent weeks, multiple aides have been interviewed — some more than once, the officials said. A date for an FBI interview of Clinton has not been set, these officials said, but is expected in the coming weeks. Abedin has cooperated with the probe, the officials said. Lawyers for Abedin declined to comment. The officials say the interviews of Clinton and her aides would be a routine part of an investigation like this.

If you look at the reporting that has later been debunked, like the 147 FBI agents that were working on the case who turned out to be 12 guys and maybe some interns, the sourcing is always a thinly-veiled attribution that translates to Republican leaks. This is different. A news editor would be hard-pressed to allow a reporter to describe Republican lawmakers and aids as “US officials.”

What that means is that this is likely an agency leak, likely from the State Department, which does carry its own baggage, but which is heaps more credible than a leak from Trey Gowdy.


FBI paid professional hackers one-time fee to crack San Bernardino iPhone

The government successfully cracked an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)


The FBI cracked a San Bernardino terrorist’s phone with the help of professional hackers who discovered and brought to the bureau at least one previously unknown software flaw, according to people familiar with the matter.

The new information was then used to create a piece of hardware that helped the FBI to crack the iPhone’s four-digit personal identification number without triggering a security feature that would have erased all the data, the individuals said.

The researchers, who typically keep a low profile, specialize in hunting for vulnerabilities in software and then in some cases selling them to the U.S. government. They were paid a one-time flat fee for the solution.

Cracking the four-digit PIN, which the FBI had estimated would take 26 minutes, was not the hard part for the bureau. The challenge from the beginning was disabling a feature on the phone that wipes data stored on the device after 10 incorrect tries at guessing the code. A second feature also steadily increases the time allowed between attempts.

The bureau in this case did not need the services of the Israeli firm Cellebrite, as some earlier reports had suggested, people familiar with the matter said.

The U.S. government now has to weigh whether to disclose the flaws to Apple, a decision that probably will be made by a White House-led group.

The people who helped the U.S. government come from the sometimes shadowy world of hackers and security researchers who profit from finding flaws in companies’ software or systems.

Some hackers, known as “white hats,” disclose the vulnerabilities to the firms responsible for the software or to the public so they can be fixed and are generally regarded as ethical. Others, called “black hats,” use the information to hack networks and steal people’s personal information.

At least one of the people who helped the FBI in the San Bernardino case falls into a third category, often considered ethically murky: researchers who sell flaws — for instance, to governments or to companies that make surveillance tools.


FBI Says It May Have a Way to Unlock Terrorist’s iPhone

epaselect epa05177563 A man holds up an iPhone with a 'No Entry' graphic as part of a rally in front of an Apple Store in support of the company's privacy policy, in New York, New York, USA, 23 February 2016. Apple is currently in a legal dispute with the FBI, which has requested that Apple unlock the iPhone of one of the people involved in the San Bernardino terrorist attacks. EPA/JUSTIN LANE

Justin Lane—EPA


They’re getting outside help

(LOS ANGELES) — A much-anticipated court hearing on the federal government’s effort to force Apple Inc. to unlock the iPhone used by one of the shooters in the San Bernardino terror attack was abruptly vacated Monday after the FBI revealed it may have a way to access data without the company’s help.

Federal prosecutors made the surprising announcement on the eve of Tuesday’s hearing in U.S. District Court in Riverside, California. In court papers they said the FBI has been researching methods to access the data on Syed Rizwan Farook’s encrypted phone since obtaining it on Dec. 3, the day after the attack.

“An outside party” came forward over the weekend and showed the FBI a possible method, the government said in court papers requesting the hearing be postponed. Authorities need time to determine “whether it is a viable method that will not compromise data” on the phone.

If viable, “it should eliminate the need for the assistance from Apple,” according to the filing.

The government did not identify the third party or explain what the proposed method entailed.

Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym granted that request and ordered the government to file a status report by April 5. Pym also stayed her Feb. 16 order compelling Apple to create software that would disable security features on the phone, including one that erases all information if a passcode is incorrectly entered more than 10 times.

In a conference call with reporters, Apple attorneys said it’s premature to declare victory in the case because it’s possible that authorities could come back in a few weeks and insist they still need the company’s help. The attorneys spoke on condition they wouldn’t be identified by name because the case is still pending.

The company hopes the government will tell Apple about whatever method it uses to access the phone’s encrypted files. But the attorneys said it may be up to the FBI to decide whether to share the information.

The fact that a third party may have found a way into the phone without Apple’s help appears to contradict every sworn affidavit and filing put that the Justice Department has put forward in the last month. The government has argued in each of its filings that Apple’s help is necessary and that the company was the only entity that could provide investigators with what was needed.

FBI Director James Comey told the House Judiciary Committee in sworn testimony earlier this month that agency investigators had approached even the National Security Agency for help but did not have success.

Apple has previously said in court filings that the government did not exhaust all its options, and lawmakers have criticized the FBI for not doing more to try to crack the iPhone itself before seeking Apple’s help.

“To me, it suggests that either the FBI doesn’t understand the technology or they weren’t giving us the whole truth when they said there is no other possible way” of examining the phone without Apple’s help, said Alex Abdo, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union. “Both of those are scary to me.”

The ACLU has filed a court brief supporting Apple’s position.

Robert Cattanach, a former U.S. Department of Justice attorney who handles cyber-security cases for the Dorsey & Whitney law firm, said the government would likely not have disclosed it had a lead on possibly unlocking the phone unless it was almost certain the method would work. That’s because the disclosure weakens the government’s case by introducing doubt that it could only access the phone with Apple’s help, he said.

“They’ve created ambiguity in a place where they’ve previously said there is none,” he said.

Prosecutors have argued that the phone used by Farook probably contains evidence of the Dec. 2 attack in which the county food inspector and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, slaughtered 14 at a holiday luncheon attended by many of his work colleagues. The two were killed in a police shootout hours later.

The FBI has said the couple was inspired by the Islamic State group. Investigators still are trying to piece together what happened and find out if there were collaborators.

The couple destroyed other phones they left behind, and the FBI has been unable to circumvent the passcode needed to unlock the iPhone, which is owned by San Bernardino County and was given to Farook for his job.

Apple has argued that the government was seeking “dangerous power” that exceeds the authority of the All Writs Act of 1789 it cited, and violates the company’s constitutional rights, harms the Apple brand and threatens the trust of its customers to protect their privacy. The 18th-century law has been used on other cases to require third parties to help law enforcement in investigations.

It’s not clear what method the government now wants to test. But even as the FBI has insisted that only Apple is able to provide the help it needs, some technical experts have argued there are other options.

The most viable method involves making a copy of the iPhone’s flash memory drive, said Jonathan Zdziarski, a computer expert who specializes in iPhone forensics. That would allow investigators to make multiple tries at guessing the iPhone’s passcode. A security feature in the phone is designed to automatically erase the data if someone makes 10 wrong guesses in a row.

But if that happens, Zdziarski said, investigators could theoretically restore the data from the backup copy they have created.

The data itself would remain encrypted until the phone is unlocked, but it would remain viable while investigators continued to guess the passcode, he added.

“It’s a lot more involved than it sounds,” Zdziarski cautioned, and no one has demonstrated that it would work in this case.

Some experts have also suggested that investigators could use lasers and acid to deconstruct the phone’s memory chip, in order to physically examine the encrypted data and the encryption algorithm, in hopes of cracking the code. But hardware experts say that method has a high risk of destroying the memory during the process.

The notion of copying the flash memory was raised by U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican who previously ran a car alarm business, during a congressional hearing earlier this month, when Comey insisted that his bureau had explored all other possibilities. It has also been promoted by technical experts advising the ACLU.

Brandon Bailey and Amanda Lee Myers / AP

Apple Shut Down FBI Request to Hack San Bernardino Shooter’s iPhone

Apple Shut Down FBI Request to Hack San Bernardino Shooter's iPhone

Image Credit: Getty Images


Apple is bracing itself for the fight of the century.

On Tuesday Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym of Federal District Court for the District of Central California ordered the tech company to help the Federal Bureau of Investigation hack into theiPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook.

But Apple CEO Tim Cook announced in an open letter that he had zero intentions of complying with the order.

Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, carried out an attack on a holiday party for Farook’s colleagues on Dec. 2 in San Bernardino, California, killing 14 and injuring 22.

Read More: Tim Cook Lays Out Why We Can’t Let the Government Erode Our Privacy, Even a Little

The FBI seeks software that would bypass an iPhone’s feature that erases the phone’s contents after 10 failed attempts at the password; the software would allow the federal agency to test an unlimited number of password combinations until it’s successful. Without Farook’s password, all the data on the phone remains encrypted.

Apple Shut Down FBI Request to Hack San Bernardino Shooter's iPhone

Source: Jae C. Hong/AP

Apple said it does not have the software to undermine its own security features and that engineering it would be too dangerous.

“We were shocked and outraged by the deadly act of terrorism in San Bernardino last December. We mourn the loss of life and want justice for all those whose lives were affected. … We have no sympathy for terrorists,” Cook wrote. Up to this point, he wrote, Apple has been fully compliant with the FBI’s request for assistance, and he explained, in no uncertain words, his company’s stance:

We have great respect for the professionals at the FBI, and we believe their intentions are good. Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them. But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.

Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.

The iPhone 5c was supplied to Farook by his employer, the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health. The FBI seeks to access his phone’s data between Oct. 19 — when Farook stopped backing his phone up to the iCloud, an act the FBI suspects was linked to his plan — and the attack on Dec. 2.

Apple Shut Down FBI Request to Hack San Bernardino Shooter's iPhone

Source: Mic/AP

Apple said complying with the order would create a dangerous precedent and essentially equip the government with “the equivalent of a master key,” which would allow it to access millions of people’s data. But Cook alluded he is skeptical that the FBI would only use the supposed software or the precedent the court order would set only once.

Should the government override Apple’s appeal, it could recalibrate the dynamic between the government and tech companies, which have largely resisted such requests, to make encrypted data more easily accessible.

“Opposing this order is not something we take lightly. We feel we must speak up in the face of what we see as an overreach by the U.S. government,” Cook concluded.

“While we believe the FBI’s intentions are good, it would be wrong for the government to force us to build a backdoor into our products,” Cook wrote. “And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.”

Natasha Noman

Sandra Bland’s Alleged Suicide Is Now Officially Being Investigated as a Murder

Image Credit: Facebook


On Monday afternoon, Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis announced the death of Sandra Bland, which was initially ruled a suicide, would be treated “as it would be in a murder investigation.” Mathis also said while the Texas Rangers were leading the investigation, the FBI was now supervising it.

“It is very much too early to make any kind of determination that this was a suicide or a murder because the investigations are not complete,” Mathis reportedly said at a press conference.

On July 10, police officers pulled over Sandra Bland for failing to indicate before changing lanes in Waller County, Texas. She was violently arrested, according to a passerby’s video, after becoming allegedly combative with the arresting officer. She was found dead in her jail cell three days later.

After discussing Bland with those closest to her and those who saw her before she died, including her bail bondsman, Mathis decided her death warranted a thorough investigation.

“There are many questions being raised in Waller County, across the country and the world about this case. It needs a thorough review,” Mathis said. “It will go to a grand jury.”

A still from a passerby’s video recording of Bland’s arrest | Source: YouTube

Waller County authorities claimed Bland committed suicide by hanging herself with a trash bag, but Bland’s family and friend’s vehemently deny she would have killed herself.

“The Waller County Jail is trying to rule her death a suicide and Sandy would not have taken her own life,” longtime friend LaNitra Dean told WLS. “Sandy was strong. Strong mentally and spiritually.”

“There are too many questions that need to be resolved. Ms. Bland’s family does make valid points. She did have a lot of things going on in her life for good,” Mathis said, according to the Texas Tribune.

In Bland’s case, placing her in jail demanded charging her with assaulting a public servant, which would classify her as “high risk.” As she was reportedly the only woman in the jail who was regarded as high risk, she was held on her own in a separate cell designated for such inmates.

Sandra Bland
Source: Walker County Sheriff’s Office

A dashboard video to be released on Tuesday allegedly reveals Bland to be combative with Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Brian Encinia, the man who pulled her over. However, once Bland was placed under arrest, there were at least two violations in protocol. After her death, the Texas Commission on Jail Standards examined the Waller County Jail’s logs and discovered staff were insufficiently trained regarding inmates’ health services and the observation rules for inmates were broken.

The country has been using social media to demand a fair and thorough investigation with hashtags such as #WhatHappenedToSandraBland and #IfIDieInPoliceCustody, so many will likely see the District Attorney’s recent announcement as a step towards clearing up some of the questions surrounding this case.

White Supremacist Starts Legal Defense Fund After FBI Visit About Dylann Roof


TPM Muckraker

Don Black, the former Ku Klux Klan grand dragon who founded the online forum two decades ago, said Tuesday on his online radio show that its commenters’ right to free speech was “under attack.” But he was vague about just what imminent legal challenge the website faced.

“We are under legal attack and we do have to have a defense,” he said. “We’re not going to just sit back and let the government do whatever it wants in lockstep with much of the media.”

Black said that on Independence Day he made an appeal to Stormfront’s “sustaining members,” or commenters who’ve previously donated to the site, to contribute to the legal defense fund. In that appeal, which was obtained by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Black wrote that “Stormfront’s existence is threatened now more than ever in its history.”

“I can’t discuss any details for the usual lawyerly reasons, but the assault has begun,” he added, as quoted by the SPLC. “I don’t know how far it will go or where it will end.”

The Stormfront founder recently told The New York Times that the FBI visited his West Palm Beach, Florida home last week. He told the newspaper that the agents were seeking information about Charleston shooter Dylann Roof’s online associations, but wouldn’t comment on whether he received a subpoena.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the legal defense fund was related to the reported FBI visit to Black’s home. Black did not respond Tuesday to a request for comment from TPM.

Roof’s connection to also remains unclear. A chilling manifesto that was apparently written by Roof before the July 17 shooting at Emanuel AME Church specifically credited a group called the Council of Conservative Citizens with opening the author’s eyes to black-on-white crime. An analysis by the SPLC further found that passages from the manifesto, which was published at a site called, closely resembled comments published by a user named “Aryanblood1488” on The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi forum.

Black alluded to the shooting, which left nine black parishioners dead, on Tuesday’s radio show.

“There are attempts to shut us down effectively by associating — by calling the truth ‘hate speech.’ That’s the method being used and suggesting that hate speech is illegal,” he said. “Telling the truth about race, telling the truth about the racial reality of crime is illegal because, well, it might cause somebody to get so outraged. Some mentally unbalanced person. He might do something illegal. He might go out and commit murder.”

In his interview with the Times, Black said he was concerned that a federal investigation into the shooter’s online associations could have a chilling effect on online commenters. He further suggested Tuesday that the specter of a federal inquiry could scare off people from posting in the public Stormfront forums.

“I didn’t want to immediately post in the public side of the board because our people are a little timid,” Black said on his radio show. “People coming to the board might get scared off if I start talking about government crackdowns that have to be fought with a legal defense fund.”


Why the FBI’s Suicide Note to MLK Still Matters

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. |  Express Newspapers/Getty

I had actually forgotten about this for a while. I first learned of it in a Black Studies class in College then on  a television documentary…

The Daily Beast ~ Nick Gillespie

A reminder that Washington has been toying with and lying to Americans for a long, long time.

The more we learn about the government these days, the less we can trust it. Forget about the simple incompetence that used to fire up libertarian critics of an expansive government—that’s a complaint that seems almost quaint given recent and ongoing revelations about official fraud and deception. It’s looking more and more like the government tends toward evil and mean-spiritedness, and it’s going to take real change to reverse eroding faith among citizens.

Though it was sent 50 long years ago, the FBI’s so-called suicide letter to Martin Luther King, Jr. is very much of a piece with today’s America, where fear of and anger toward the government casts a shadow over everything from web-surfing to starting a business. Historian Beverly Gage and The New York Times have just published an unredacted version of the anonymous November, 1964 letter almost certainly sent by the FBI to Martin Luther King, Jr. a few weeks before the civil rights leader was set to accept the Nobel Peace Prize.

The typo-laden note pretends to be from a black American repulsed by King’s “psychotic” sexuality and warns that he will be unmasked as a “filthy, abnormal animal” unless he kills himself. “King you are done,” reads the letter, drawing on surveillance and wiretaps approved by FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, and President Lyndon Johnson. “There is but one way out for you,” the note continues. “You better take it before your filthy fraudulent self is bared to the nation.”

In the 21st century, we worry less about the government ratting out our sex lives and more about it tapping our phones, reading our emails, secretly dispatching drones abroad, sending “desperate and dumb” mash notes to Iranian fascists, and generally lying about its true goals and actions. “Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles” announced theTimes in 2012, clearly uncomfortable with the implications of its own expose (“Secret ‘Kill List’ Reveals Obama’s Principles” would have been more accurate).

So it’s fitting that the letter to King, one of the government’s most despicable acts of domestic surveillance, has only fully come to light in the age of Wikileaks, Edward Snowden, and what Barack Obama promised was going to be the “most transparent administration” in U.S. history.

Alas, when it comes to openness, Barack Obama  neglected to mention that the most disturbing revelations would happen in spite of—not because of—his actions. We didn’t learn that  the president’s former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, former CIA director Keith Alexander, and current CIA director John Brennan all lied to Congress because the administration suddenly decided to come clean.

And it’s not just unseemly cloak-and-dagger stuff in an age of terrorism that’s causing trust issues. MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, who helped create the Affordable Care Act, has rightfully come under fire for admitting that the “lack of transparency” in Obamacare was a political strategy designed to take advantage of “the stupidity of the American voter.” Nancy Pelosi, who was speaker of the House when Obamacare passed, has carried the deception further still, falsely saying that “I don’t know who [Gruber] is” and that “he didn’t help write our bill” —claims that were immediately revealed as false after about 10 seconds of Googling.

A new survey by The Atlantic of 50 “Silicon Valley Insiders”—“executives, innovators, and thinkers”–asks respondents to name “the biggest barrier to innovation in the United States.” The top three answers are “government regulation/bureaucracy” (20 percent), “immigration policies” (16 percent), and “education” (14 percent). Given the role it plays in setting immigration policy and controlling education at all levels through a mix of money and mandates, that means government takes the gold, silver, and bronze medals at making life harder.

It’s not just tech gazillionaires who feel this way. Gallup annually asks jes’ plain folks, “Which of the following do you think is the biggest threat to the country in the future—big business, big labor, or big government?” Last December, a record-high 72 percent chose big government. That’s more than double the figure Gallup recorded when the FBI was listening to Martin Luther King’s heavy-breathing sessions. These days, says Pew Research, just 2 percent (!) of us trust the government “to just about always” do the right thing.

Fifty years ago—again, right around the time that the FBI was about to become the subject of a hagiographic hit TV show and trying to goad Martin Luther King, Jr. into killing himself—Richard Hofstadter was denouncing the “paranoid style in American politics,”. He lamented that, “American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”

But today’s lack of trust and confidence in the government doesn’t seem all that angry. It’s more like we’re resigned to the fact that our rulers think little of us—that is, when they think of us at all. In gaining new knowledge about how people in power almost always behave, we are wiser and sadder and, one hopes, much less likely to put up with bullshit from the left, right, or center.

There’s a real opportunity to the politicians, the parties, and the causes that dare to embrace real transparency —about how legislation is being crafted, about our surveillance programs at home and abroad—as a core value and something other than a throwaway slogan. But as an unbroken thread of mendacity and mischief binds the present to the past, a future in which government can be trusted seems farther off than ever.

Police killings highest in two decades

Ferguson demonstrator | (Photo: Scott Olson, Getty Images)

USA Today

WASHINGTON — The number of felony suspects fatally shot by police last year — 461— was the most in two decades, according to a new FBI report.

The justifiable homicide count, contained in the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Report, has become increasingly scrutinized in recent months as questions continue to be raised about the use of lethal force by law enforcement.

National attention has been drawn to cases from New York to Albuquerque, though much of the focus is on Ferguson, Mo., where the restive St. Louis suburb awaits the decision of a grand jury weighing the fatal shooting in August of a black teenager by a white police officer.

The death of Michael Brown prompted weeks of protests and larger questions about the operations of a largely white department working in a majority African-American community. The Justice Department is conducting a parallel inquiry into the shooting Aug. 9 and a broader review into Ferguson law enforcement operations and whether the department has engaged in a pattern or practice of discriminatory policing.

This year, a USA TODAY analysis of the FBI’s justifiable homicide database during a seven-year period ending in 2012 found an average of 96 incidents each year in which a white officer killed a black person.

The new 2013 total of justifiable killings represents the third consecutive increase in the annual toll. Criminal justice analysts said the inherent limitations of the database — the killings are self-reported by law enforcement, and not all police agencies participate in the annual counts — continue to frustrate efforts to identify the universe of lethal force incidents involving police.


University of Nebraska criminologist Samuel Walker said the incomplete nature of the data renders the recent spike in such deaths even more difficult to explain.

“It could be as simple as more departments are reporting,” Walker said.

The Nebraska criminologist has been among the most vocal advocates calling for an all-inclusive national database to closely track deadly force incidents involving police.

“It is irresponsible that we don’t have a complete set of numbers,” Walker said. “Whether the numbers are up, down or stable, this (national database) needs to be done. … This is a scandal.”

University of South Carolina criminologist Geoff Alpert, who has long studied police use of deadly force, said the latest number of justifiable homicides, while increasing, still likely represents a significant under-counting.

He said most major agencies have strongly supported close tracking of deadly force incidents. But he said the majority of police agencies in the country are small — with fewer than 50 officers — and their reporting practices involving such cases are not always uniform.

“Unfortunately, I think there has to be a government mandate for this kind of reporting that ties the responsibility to the communities’ eligibility to receive federal funds.” Alpert said. “It has to happen, because it has gotten to be an embarrassment.”

At least seven U.S. police departments have been the subjects of federal reviews in the wake of fatal police shootings since 2010.

In addition to Ferguson, one of the broadest examinations has been occurring in Albuquerque where the Justice Department last month announced an agreement that requires the city’s troubled police agency to transform its lethal force policy.

Since 2009, according to municipal records, Albuquerque officers have been involved in nearly 50 shootings, with at least 32 resulting in death, including several mentally ill suspects.