Watchdog: Ex-FBI director Comey made ‘serious error’ in Clinton probe disclosures

admin   •   June 15, 2018   •   2206

FILE PHOTO: Former FBI director James Comey speaks about his book during an onstage interview with Axios Executive Editor Mike Allen at George University in Washington, U.S. April 30, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

Former FBI Director James Comey made a “serious error of judgment” when he announced shortly before the 2016 U.S. presidential election that he was reopening an investigation into candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server, the Justice Department’s internal watchdog said on Thursday (June 14).

The 500-page report by Inspector General Michael Horowitz concluded that Comey did not exhibit any political bias or try to influence the election.

However, it criticized him for violating Justice Department policies and accused him of usurping the authority of Attorney General Loretta Lynch when in July 2016 he announced there would be no charges against Clinton for her email use as secretary of state.

In addition, the report was highly critical of Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, two FBI staff members who exchanged highly charged political messages, finding their texts cast a cloud over the FBI and created the appearance of bias. —Reuters

Zoom video conferencing app addresses privacy issues amid FBI scrutiny

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 3, 2020

The video conferencing app, Zoom, has announced they are already addressing the privacy and security issues raised by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) due to ‘Zoombombing’ reports.

In a statement, Zoom Founder and CEO Eric Yuan said the company acknowledges the reports of users regarding privacy issues, saying these reports would help make the company better for its customers.

“Dedicated journalists and security researchers have also helped to identify pre-existing ones. We appreciate the scrutiny and questions we have been getting – about how the service works, about our infrastructure and capacity, and about our privacy and security policies,” he said.

The FBI said they received several reports in the United States that there has been an incident of ‘Zoombombing’ or video conferences being disrupted by pornographic and/or hate images and threatening language.

Yuan said they already began implementing changes to address their privacy issues. These include training sessions, adding protective features and updating their privacy policy.

“Our chief concern, now and always, is making users happy and ensuring that the safety, privacy, and security of our platform is worthy of the trust you all have put in us,” Yuan said. AAC

FBI arrests 3 members of Phl-based church for fundraising, immigration fraud

Marje Pelayo   •   January 30, 2020

LOS ANGELES, USA — The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Wednesday (January 29) arrested the top three members of a Philippine-based church for charges of conspiracy to commit immigration fraud.

A federal complaint alleged that Guia Cabactulan, 59, the top Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name (KOJC) official in the US; Marissa Duenas, 41; and Amanda Estopare, 48 of the KOJC facilitated the entry of church members to the United States to work as fundraisers for a church-owned charity while only carrying tourist visas.

Federal authorities arrested Cabactulan and Duenas at the KOJC compound in Van Nuys, California, while Estopare was nabbed in Virginia.

The complaint alleged that the three obtained visas for church members in the guise of performing in musical events, but once they arrived in the US, they were forced to surrender their passports and work long hours as “miracle workers” to solicit funds for Children’s Joy Foundation (CJF).

The said ‘miracle workers’ would tell donors that their money would support impoverished children in the Philippines but according to the complaint, the money raised was used to finance the operations of KOJC and the lavish lifestyle of its leaders.

“KOJC and CJF advertise that the solicited money will be used to aid Filipino children; however, little to no money solicited appears to benefit impoverished or in-need children,” according to the affidavit by FBI Special Agent Anne Wetzel.

Also, the complaint accused the defendants of arranging sham marriages and other illegal mechanisms for members to stay in the US and continue soliciting donations, and then threatened them of facing consequences should they fail to meet quota.

“KOJC workers often slept in cars overnight, parked at truck stops. For those KOJC workers who proved to be good at soliciting money, KOJC administrators, including CABACTULAN, DUENAS, and ESTOPARE, would force them into sham marriages so they could stay in the United States and continue soliciting,” Wetzel said.

According to the FBI, the church’s bank records show that KOJC accounts received approximately $20 million in cash deposits from 2014 through mid-2019.

Following the arrest on Wednesday morning, the FBI executed search warrants at KOJC and CJF offices in Van Nuys, Glendale, and three other locations in Los Angeles, as well as in two locations linked to KOJC in Hawaii.

According to the Federal Law, the charge of conspiracy to commit immigration fraud carries a statutory maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.

READ: Quiboloy follower Felina Salinas likely to face 5 years in jail over cash smuggling

Comelec expects influx of registrants amid last-day of voter registration

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 30, 2019

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is expecting an influx of ‘last-minute’ registrants at the voter registration for the 2020 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.

Comelec will officially close the voter registration at 5:00 p.m. on Monday (September 30). Comelec Spokesperson Dir. James Jimenez said their office is prepared to handle the number of registrants.

“An influx of registrants is to be expected. The COMELEC has anticipated this, and we are confident that our employees in the field are prepared to handle the last-day registration scenario,” he said.

Based on Comelec Resolution 10549, Comelec will implement the following protocol for the last day of voter registration.

  • If there are still applicants lined up to register within the thirty (30) meter radius from the Office of the Election Officer (OEO) by 3:00 P.M. of September 30, 2019, their names will be promptly and consecutively listed down.
  • Each name will be announced repeatedly three (3) times in the order in which the applicants’ names were listed. Applicants who are not present when their names are called shall no longer be allowed to file their application.
  • When an applicant’s name is called and he/she is present, his/her application will be processed and his/her biometrics data will be captured. The process continues until all those listed shall have been processed.
  • An Express Lane is provided for Persons with Disabilities, Senior Citizens and Heavily Pregnant Applicants.

There are around 2.6 million registered voters in the country as of August 1 this year, according to Comelec’s data.—AAC

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