DOJ to Announce Charges Against Several Iranians for Connection to NY Dam Hack

Matt Dean, Fox News Producer

Fox News has learned through a law enforcement source that an indictment will be unsealed in the Southern District of New York tomorrow charging up to five individuals with ties to the Iranian government for computer hacking-related crimes. According to this source, these individuals are being charged in connection with the 2013 cyberattack of the Bowman Avenue Dam in Rye Brook, New York.

Fox is told that Attorney General Loretta Lynch and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara are expected to make the announcement Thursday morning at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.

The Wall Street Journal reported in December that officials at the Department of Homeland Security believe that hackers infiltrated the Bowman Avenue Dam through a cellular modem which enabled them to access the control system.

The Department of Justice would not comment on the matter.

Fox News first reported the Iranian connection on March 10. The State Department declined to comment on the incident that day instead deferring to the Justice Department. Spokesman Mark Toner did add though that the U.S. government takes seriously all malicious activity in cyberspace and continues to ensure the safety of U.S. interests when it comes to cyberattacks. 

FBI Sends "Fly Team" From NY Field Office & Evidence Techs to Assist Belgians in Brussels Investigation

A law enforcement source tells Fox News that the FBI has sent a fly team from its New York Field Office to assist Belgian authorities in their investigation of the terror attacks in Brussels yesterday. Fox is told this team consists of agents who will be on the ground conducting interviews to gain any and all intelligence they can on the incidents.

Additionally, Fox is told that an FBI Evidence Response Team (ERT) from the FBI Lab in Quantico, VA has deployed to Brussels as well. FBI ERTs are generally looked upon as some of the best forensics teams in the world.

FBI’s Legal Attache (LEGAT) office in Brussels has been working with Belgian authorities since the attacks took place yesterday. Fox is told that part of that work includes facilitating intelligence sharing between Belgian authorities and U.S. intelligence databases.

Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates told reporters at a press conference this afternoon that the Justice Department has been in touch with its Belgian counterparts and stands ready to offer any and all assistance it can. 

Chairman McCaul: Investigations into ISIS in a all 50 states

Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Congressman Michael McCaul joined Bret Baier on Special Report to talk about the global threat of ISIS, including in the United States.

Krauthammer on Obama’s Cuba visit: ‘He does this sort of ideological holiday trip in Cuba while the world burns’

Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer said Tuesday on “Special Report with Bret Baier” that, at a news conference in Cuba, President Obama devoted almost no time to addressing the terror attacks that transpired in Belgium – and instead focused on a trip that matters very little by comparison.

“Obama gave the terror bombing 51 seconds of his speech today in Havana. I thought the whole story of his presidency and its foreign policy was seen in the split screen,” Krauthammer said. “On one side, you had the video footage of the attack in Belgium. This is the real world. And on the other side was Obama, in the fantasy world he inhabits, where Cuba is of some geopolitical significance in his mind.”

Krauthammer argued that Obama made the trip to knock a legacy item off his list before he leaves office, settling the Cold War arguments of the academic left. Yet if the country fell off the map, Krauthammer said it would make little difference in the foreign policy arena.

“If Cuba disappeared tomorrow in a volcanic eruption like Santorini, nobody would notice geopolitically,” he said.

On the other hand, he reiterated the events in Brussels pose a grave threat.

“The Belgians are completely outmanned, the Europeans have no way of tracking, and… we are completely in the blind. We don't know what we don't know,” Krauthammer said, adding, “Obama calls it the jayvee team. He pretends it's contained and controlled. It is not. Instead, he does this sort of ideological holiday trip in Cuba while the world burns.”

US officials: 1 North Korean missile blew up shortly after launch

By Lucas Tomlinson, Fox News Producer

Despite earlier claims by North Korea that it fired two ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, two US officials tell Fox News that one blew up shortly after lift-off in an embarrassing new twist for the North Korean military.

A US defense official Thursday evening said North Korea launched two ballistic missiles, but did not specify how far each missile traveled.  Both missiles were  Nodong medium-range ballistic missiles, based on the Soviet-era Scud-C missile.

"Neither was assessed to be a threat to the U.S. or our regional allies.  These launches are a violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions," the official said.  

Both missiles were launched from mobile road launchers, making it difficult to track their movement since the launchers can be easily hidden.

One of the missiles, launched from the west coast of North Korea north of the capital, Pyongyang, flew hundreds of miles into the Sea of Japan, marking a dangerous escalation in North Korea's missile program.   

The medium-range launch was the first North Korean missile capable of hitting Japan since 2014.

This is the second launch of missiles into the Sea of Japan this month by North Korea.

In February, North Korea launched a satellite into space on Super Bowl Sunday in the United States.   The concern among Pentagon officials is the same components used to launch the long-range rocket into space are the same components used for an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Last week, the US Air Force’s top officer told reporters North Korea did not possess the capability to put a nuclear warhead atop one of its long-range ballistic missiles.   North Korean leaders a day later said they did.

Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said the U.S. military can knock any North Korean ballistic missile out of the sky.

On January 6, North Korea claimed to have detonated a hydrogen bomb, later refuted by US officials.

President Obama signed authorized new sanctions earlier this week targeting North Korea's coal industry, which some analysts suspect fuels its missile program. 

An earlier sanctions bill signed by the president in recent days targeted luxury goods consumed by North Korea's elite.

The missile launches coincide with annual military exercises between the United States and South Korea involving more than 10,000 troops.

Three nuclear-capable B-2 bombers were sent to the region as part of the exercise in a show of force to the North Koreans.

Late Thursday, State Dept. spokesman John Kirby said used the singular when referring to the missile launch.

"We have seen reports that North Korea launched a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan," said Kirby. 

Krauthammer: Obama’s nomination of Garland all about politics

Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer said Friday on “Special Report with Bret Baier” that President Obama’s nomination of Garland to the Supreme Court was all about politics and has nothing to do with competence.

“Ever since the supreme court became a super legislature with the abolition, the striking down of all the abortion rights until 40 years later striking down all the laws on gay marriage it has been a political appointment.

Krauthammer added “The idea that the president said today this isn't about ideology it's about competence is nonesense. All that was destroyed with the Bork nomination. The most highly competent, qualified nominee probably ever, struck down entirely on ideology and  when Obama was in the senate he filibustered Alito, who he admitted had all the qualifications.”

Although Garland has an impressive resume including first in his class at Harvard and nearly two years on the federal bench Krauthammer contends Senate Republicans are taking the correct path.

“It is about ideology, it's about power. The Republicans have the power to say no. They should say no.”

 

Garland the best "political” pick Obama could make

By Bill Mears, Fox News

 Judge Merrick Garland has long been on President Obama's political radar-- considered for each of the three Supreme Court nomination opportunities of his term, and receiving incrementally more serious attention each time. That he was chosen reflects what court watchers call his experience, legal acumen, and consensus-building skills.

At the Wednesday Rose Garden announcement ceremony, Garland called the nomination the greatest opportunity in his life, a "gift." It may be something he ultimately wishes he could return.

The 63-year-old chief judge of the federal appeals court in Washington will take on a role more daunting and precarious than any judicial nominee in recent memory has tackled-- that of a political "pinata" -- as Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) so bluntly put it.

"Judge Garland is the best political pick the President could make in this unique environment we're in," said one former administration lawyer with knowledge of the confirmation process, emphasizing the word "political."

"And I don't mean that in a bad way. [Justice Antonin] Scalia's unexpected death in an election year really changed the rules for choosing someone for this court" that source added.

The nomination of a Supreme Court nominee in such a charged environment-- following the unexpected February 13 death of conservative lion Scalia-- will test Garland's fortitude. Colleagues praise his intelligence, personal charm, and sense of humor as necessary to navigate his initial meetings on Capitol Hill with senators, a process that begins Thursday.

Senate Republicans who control the chamber have vowed not to give a Garland a hearing, saying the next President-- and by extension the American people-- should have that power.

"In light of the contentious presidential election already well underway, my colleagues and I on the Judiciary Committee have already given our advice and consent on this issue: we will not have any hearings or votes on President Obama's pick," Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) told Fox News. Lee, a former law clerk of Justice Samuel Alito, vowed not even to speak with Garland. "Any meeting with the nominee only be a waste of the Senate's time."

Anticipating that rhetoric, President Obama again urged lawmakers to put partisanship aside.

"It is tempting to make this confirmation process simply an extension of our divided politics, the squabbling that's going on in the news every day," he said with his nominee standing by him, expressionless. "But to go down that path would be wrong.  It would be a betrayal of our best traditions and a betrayal of the vision of our founding documents."

Some of the president's supporters expressed mild disappointment he did not make history and name the first Asian-American to the court. Sources close to the selection process tell Fox News the decision came down to Garland and Sri Srinivasan, who was born in India and raised in Kansas. Both are colleagues on the DC federal appeals court.

"While we are disappointed that President Obama did not nominate an Asian American today, we stand behind his nominee and are confident that when future Supreme Court vacancies occur, Asian Americans will continue to receive this highest level of consideration," said Christopher Kang, director of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans. 

As for Garland-- who would become the fourth Jewish member of the court-- joining fellow liberals Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan-- left-leaning  advocates downplayed his liberal record and instead sought to promote his consensus credentials.

"In this moment President Obama was facing a very difficult choice," said Elizabeth Wydra, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center. But by choosing Garland, "That's a pretty smart move on the president's part,  and it makes it pretty hard for Republicans  to continue their hard line that they wont even meet with this nominee and we're already seeing some cracks in that position."

But conservative groups urged Senate Republicans to hold firm, saying Garland has a clear progressive record, especially in issues like gun rights and executive power.

"There's no way this President would nominate someone to the Supreme Court who he wasn't confident of joining those four extremely liberal judges we already have on the supreme court," said Carrie Severino, chief counsel of the Judicial Crisis Network. "That would make an unassailable five-justice majority for a laundry list of issues."

Already legal advocacy groups have begun scouring Garland's 19-year record on the appeals court, which handles a range of hot-button issues, especially dealing with the statutory limits of Congress and the constitutional limits of the President. It is considered the second most powerful federal court after the one Garland would join. Three current justices-- and Scalia-- had served on the DC Circuit.

His judicial record is reliably liberal, but on some issues Garland sided with more conservative colleagues-- a dynamic similar to what he would face on the current divided 4-4 liberal-conservative majority of the high court. Among the higher-profiled cases he has decided:

Discrimination  (Barbour v. WMATA, 2004): Allowed a Washington, D.C., government worker to sue for disability discrimination. He was supported in the ruling by then-appeals court colleague and good friend John Roberts, now chief justice.

Environment  (Rancho Viejo v. Norton, 2003): Parted ways with Roberts by refusing to rehear a case over federal protection for the rare arroyo toad, and sided against a California developer who challenged the Endangered Species Act.

Electronic privacy  (ACLU v. U.S. Department of Justice, 2011): Concluded information about how and when the government gathers and uses cell phone location data to track certain criminal suspects should be made available to the public.

Drone strikes   (ACLU v. CIA, 2013): The CIA must acknowledge the existence of any records related to military unmanned drone strikes aimed at people such as terror suspects overseas, calling the agency's previous denials "fiction." He wrote:  "The CIA asked the courts to stretch that doctrine too far-- to give their imprimatur to a fiction of deniability that no reasonable person would regard as plausible."

Terror detentions  (Parhat v. Gates, 2008):  Wrote an opinion slamming the reliability of U.S. government intelligence documents, saying just because officials keep repeating their 

Reliability had been the template for Presidents choosing a Supreme Court nominee for more than a quarter century-- someone who may not exactly excite the political base, but would carve a predictable liberal or conservative record, depending on the president making the choice. No surprises, no David Souters was how some conservatives labeled it, a nod to Justice David Souter, nominated by a GOP president who went on the side mostly with liberals on the court.

But now with the nomination of Garland to fill this election-year vacancy, this President also wants something more: confirmability, the best person possible to navigate what could be failed, pointless mission to get a hearing and a vote in the Senate.

His friends privately say Garland was not reticent taking up the challenge, and is fully aware of the obstacles in front of him.

In his White House remarks, the Chicago native made a point to mention his work prosecuting the Oklahoma City bombing case, which included briefing the families of victims about the legal process that would unfold in the federal courts.

 He said that approach owed much to public trust.

"People must be confident that a judge's decisions are determined by the law and only the law," he said. "For a judge to be worthy of such trust, he or she must be faithful to the Constitution and to the statutes passed by the Congress."

That emphasis on "trust" will his guiding star in the months ahead, as he and the White House seek a chance to make their case. It may be an argument that will fall on deaf ears, but the political fallout from how all this plays out-- for good or bad-- could be felt in all three branches of government for years to come.

DOJ Natl Security Chief: ISIS "actively attempting" to possess destructive cyberattack capabilities

By Matt Dean, Fox News DOJ Producer

The Justice Department’s chief national security prosecutor said Tuesday that ISIS is “actively attempting” to possess destructive cyberattack capabilities, adding that the group is intent on causing major damage via cyber means.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin made the comments during the Financial Times Cyber Security Summit at the National Press Club in Washington. Carlin did note that there is no evidence to suggest ISIS yet has the ability to wage destructive hack attacks because, as he put it, if they had the capability “they’d use it.”

But speaking more broadly to ISIS’ cyber ambitions, Carlin touched on an ongoing case involving data theft when acknowledging the so-called caliphate’s less sophisticated capability.

Kosovo citizen Ardit Ferizi, who was extradited to the United States from Malaysia in January, faces federal charges tied to his alleged hacking of a U.S. company for the purposes of stealing personally identifiable information on U.S. military and federal personnel and turning that information over to ISIS. That information was later distributed by British-born ISIS operative Junaid Hussain in a social media campaign that urged the group’s followers to target the individuals whose information was stolen.

Hussain was killed in a U.S. drone strike last summer.

In touching on ISIS’ “strategic success” in its use of social media as a recruitment tool, Carlin noted the terror group’s ability to target American youth through what he called a “Madison Avenue-quality” propaganda campaign. As Fox News has reported in the past, of the terrorism-related prosecutions the Justice Department has undertaken over the last year, nearly every case involves some social media component.

Just last month the Justice Department convened a summit attended by U.S. national security leaders, academics, as well as executives in the technology, advertising, and media industries to discuss terrorist recruitment and propaganda distribution via the Internet.

The gathering was described to Fox News as a “brainstorm” intended to give the attending organizations the opportunity to contribute their respective talents in the digital countering violent extremism movement.  

Ruptures at Rallies: a bad sign?

Emily B. Cyr

From energetic and enthusiastic to volatile and violent, the 2016 presidential race has taken a bad turn. Campaign rallies in recent weeks have stolen headlines for their non peaceful protests and many Americans may be wondering if this has ever happened before? That is Americans under the age of 50.

Tuesday morning, Director of the Secret Service Joseph Clancy testified before the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee. Among the topics discussed were agent recruitment, White House fence jumpers and the FY 2017 budget. But one topic that brought with it uncharacteristic language and a brief history lesson had to do with the presidential campaigns.

A member of Congress, for what could be the first time ever, used the “term “sucker-punched” in a congressional hearing. Democratic Congressman David Price of North Carolina used the term when questioning Clancy about security at campaign events. At a rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina this March (a city in Price’s own district), a Trump supporter reportedly “sucker-punched” protestor Rakeem Jones, completely unprovoked.

The reason Price brought up the incident at the hearing is because he feared it is a sign of things to come. Specifically, this summer when both parties hold conventions to select their respective presidential candidates. The Democrats will gather in Philadelphia while the Republicans convene in Cleveland. If violence does make its way to the convention areas, this would not be the first time.

Subcommittee Chairman John Carter of Texas compared recent events to the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. 1968 was a year very similar to 2016; there had been riots and protests throughout the country, most notably about the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement. By that summer, the country had already witnessed the assassinations of presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy and Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King Jr. All the tension surrounding these events and issues erupted in violence at the convention. The National Guard was called out and tear gas filled the streets of Chicago, even reaching Democratic presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey in his hotel shower.

It is safe to say nobody wants this to happen again, and as Carter said “We don’t need that, we got enough problems”.

Director Clancy did his best to assure members of Congress that the Secret Service and the 24 subcommittees it formed for the conventions would not let any sort of incident happen.

However, if the parties wanted to avoid bringing heat to the conventions, maybe the Democrats should not have chosen to meet in one of the hottest and most humid cities in America. 

 

 

 

 

Fox News Reporting Rising Threats - Shrinking Military

Premiere Friday March 18 at 10pm ET

When Barack Obama took office, he inherited a professional, world-class, battle-toughened military.  Seven years later, many experts see the U.S. armed forces as a tattered and demoralized organization.  Fox News Reporting - Rising Threats - Shrinking Military investigates what President Obama has done with—and to—the military.  Bret Baier looks at the hundreds of billions in cuts, the radical social change forced upon the troops, and a foreign policy that breaks with decades of tradition and leaves us in a world more dangerous than ever. The hour includes interviews with Obama’s first three Secretaries of Defense, Robert Gates, Leon Panetta and Chuck Hagel, as well as numerous people, on the ground, who work to keep America’s fighting forces battle ready. 

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