By Evan Perez
This is a Russian spy ring that would embarrass Anna Chapman.
Justice Department prosecutors last week filed charges against what they say is a group of current and former Russian diplomats who allegedly ran a nine-year scheme that bilked $1.5 million from Medicaid, the U.S. health benefits program for the poor.
But CNN has learned that there's a spy angle to this case. Federal counterintelligence investigators say they believe some of the alleged participants in the fraud scheme were also engaged in espionage, sources tell CNN. Federal Bureau of Investigation agents were on the trail of the alleged spies for some time, sources say. But in the end, the Justice Department decided to bring only the fraud charges.
By CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty
With a breakthrough interim nuclear deal and relations between the United States and Iran improving, the White House on Tuesday "respectfully" asked the Iranian government to help return Robert Levinson, a retired FBI agent who went missing in Iran more than six years ago.
"We do want to test the regime. The new administration has said that they want to take a different approach toward the West, toward the United States. One way that they could clearly demonstrate that is they could help us find Bob Levinson, help reunite him with his family," Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told CNN.
By Evan Perez
FBI Director James Comey told a Senate hearing on Thursday the agency considers the investigation of the deadly Benghazi terror attack among its "highest priorities."
In response to questions from Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-New Hampshire, Comey said the FBI still has "a lot of people working very, very hard on this. We are committed bringing to justice those responsible for the attack and the murder of our folks.
"These are often difficult cases to make, but as you've seen for our work, we never give up and we will never rest until we bring to justice the people responsible," he said.
Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the armed assault on the U.S. diplomatic compound in eastern Libya in September 2012.
By Evan Perez
President Barack Obama and new FBI Director James Comey sat on stage Monday in front of a brass frieze of J. Edgar Hoover, the former FBI chief, who kept dossiers on elected leaders, civil rights activists, Hollywood stars and other important figures of his day.
The occasion was Comey’s installation as the seventh director, a ceremony held in the open-air courtyard of the bureau’s brutalist 1970’s-era headquarters.
Hanging in the air were the latest round of revelations from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, whose disclosures of secret government eavesdropping programs have given rise to intense scrutiny of alleged government abuse of power to rival Hoover’s day.
By Evan Perez
The FBI on Wednesday named Andrew McCabe, a long time terrorism investigator, to its top national security post.
Agency Director James Comey promoted McCabe, the assistant director of the National Security Branch, which oversees the bureau’s terrorism, intelligence, counterintelligence and weapons of mass destruction investigations.
McCabe was the first director of the FBI-led High-Value Interrogation Group in 2009, set up by the Obama administration to handle intelligence questioning of terrorism suspects after the President Barack Obama dismantled the Central Intelligence Agency’s controversial interrogation program.
He began his career in 1996 with the FBI’s organized crime squad in New York.
By Carol Cratty
A Pennsylvania man was sentenced Tuesday 102 months–eight and a half years– in prison for using the Internet to encourage others to commit acts of terrorism and for using a gun during a scuffle with FBI agents, the Justice Department said.
During court proceedings in Pittsburgh, prosecutors said Emerson Begolly, 22, was an administrator of an Islamic extremist forum called Ansar al-Mujahideen English Forum.
According to the government, Begolly used the pseudonym Abu Nancy and "systematically solicited jihadists to use firearms, explosives and propane tanks against targets such as police stations, post offices, Jewish schools and daycare centers, military facilities, train lines, bridges, cell phone towers and water plants." FULL POST
By Carol Cratty
FBI Director Robert Mueller acknowledged the law enforcement agency uses drone aircraft in the United States for surveillance in certain difficult cases.
Mueller told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that drones are used by the FBI in a "very, very minimal way and very seldom."
He did not say how many unmanned surveillance vehicles (UAVs) the FBI has or how often they have been used.
But a law enforcement official told CNN the FBI has used them a little more than a dozen times but did not say when that started. The official said drones are useful in hostage and barricade situations because they operate more quietly and are less visible than traditional aircraft such as helicopters.
By Chelsea J. Carter
(CNN) – The U.S. government has obtained a top secret court order that requires Verizon to turn over the telephone records of millions of Americans to the National Security Agency on an "ongoing daily basis," the UK-based Guardian newspaper reportedWednesday.
The four-page order, which The Guardian published on its website, requires the communications giant to turn over "originating and terminating" telephone numbers as well as the location, time and duration of the calls. The order, published on the newspaper's website, does not require the contents of conversations to be turned over.
CNN has so far been unable to independently verify the authenticity of the document.
If genuine, the order gives the NSA blanket access to the records of millions of Verizon customers' domestic and foreign phone calls made between April 25, when the order was signed, and July 19, when it expires.
Verizon spokesman Edward McFadden declined to comment on the report.FULL STORY
By Ted Barrett
The U.S. government has identified "a certain number of people" believed involved in the Benghazi, Libya, attack, a senior Republican lawmaker told CNN on Tuesday.
The lawmaker said that government investigators have put identities to individuals seen in surveillance video of the attack.
"They know the names. That's what we haven't known. These are individuals they know now. Not just the pictures," the senior lawmaker said.
The lawmaker, who is familiar with the status of the investigation, could not say how many had been identified.
Just last week, Attorney General Eric Holder hinted there were developments in the investigation. FULL POST
A former federal official who led information sharing efforts between intelligence agencies after September 11 says that system failed ahead of the Boston Marathon terrorist attacks earlier this month.
“We didn’t connect the dots that we had. Few though they might have been, they were serious enough that they should have been connected,” Ambassador Thomas McNamara said Monday on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”FULL STORY