FBI Director: Terrorist Drones Are ‘Imminent’ Threat

On Wednesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress that terrorist attacks in the United States by groups using drones were an “imminent” threat. Such attacks could be launched against soft targets using the small unmanned aircraft armed with chemical weapons or small explosives.

“We do know that terrorist organizations have an interest in using drones; we’ve seen that overseas already with some growing frequency and I think the expectation is it’s coming here imminently,” Wray testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee as reported by the Washington Free Beacon. “I think they are relatively easy to acquire, relatively easy to operate, and I think quite difficult to disrupt and monitor.”

ISIS has been known to use drones in both a surveillance and an attack role. Last April, Fox News reported that ISIS had posted online videos with instructions for arming commercially-available drones.

“Two years ago, this was not a problem,” said Nicholas Rasmussen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center. “One year ago, this was an emerging problem. Now it’s a real problem, and so we are quickly trying to up our game.”

Rasmussen said that counterterrorism agencies are working to understand and defend against the threat of drones. In Iraq, drones have been used by ISIS to drop bombs on Iraqi government troops, but merely flying an unarmed drone in the vicinity of a busy airport could bring down a commercial airliner. Last week, an army helicopter collided with a small drone over New York, but was able to land safely. The operator of the drone has not been identified.

Several private companies are working on anti-drone projects as well. Droneshield provides devices to detect drones as well as the “dronegun” that jams the remotely controlled aircraft and forces them to land. The company’s products have been used by law enforcement and military organizations in the field. Another company, Department 13, has developed software that allows operators to take control of threatening drones.

Current federal law complicates the ability of local law enforcement and private companies to defend against drone attacks. The federal government considers drones to be aircraft and it is a federal crime to shoot at any aircraft. Popular Mechanics points out that state laws that allow police to target threatening drones are in conflict with federal law.

Drone technology is advancing at a rapid clip and terrorists have proven adept at altering new technology to their purposes. Drone aircraft are cheap, plentiful, anonymous and can adopted to perform a variety of roles. This makes them attractive to terrorists and difficult to defend against.

No, Director Wray Did Not Exonerate Trump, Actually He May Have Implicated Him

It must have been music to President Trump’s ears to hear FBI Director Christopher Wray publicly state “I can say very confidently that I have not detected any whiff of interference with that investigation.”

Wray was referring to Robert Mueller’s investigation into any possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

“I have enormous respect for former Director Mueller, who I got to work with almost daily in the early 2000s, as a consummate professional,” Wray added. “He’s really running that investigation.”

The good news is that Trump, despite all his bluster about possibly firing Mueller, which would be the equivalent of political seppuku, is keeping his tiny hands out of Mueller’s pie. This is a good thing for Trump and for the nation.

What it isn’t, is some kind of statement exonerating Trump in the Russia investigation. That’s the statement the president asked James Comey to make, three times, and ultimately was the reason Trump fired Comey. Wray did not say what Comey refused to say.

The pro-Trump press will, however, take it that way. “FBI director drops truth grenade on supposed WH ‘interference’ with Russia probe.” Nobody has supposed that Trump or the White House has interfered with the Russia probe. All communications between Trump and Mueller or his staff have been above-board and friendly.

What Wray was convinced of, however, is more troubling to members of Trump’s campaign team who may yet face the music. From POLITICO:

“Now, I’ve had the opportunity to see a lot more fully, highly classified information….I have no reason to doubt the conclusions that the hardworking people who put that together came to,” the FBI director said, referring to an intelligence community assessment produced in both classified and unclassified versions in January.

The Russians did, according to all evidence, attempt to monkey with the 2016 election. And it’s clear that people in Trump’s orbit (Manafort, Trump Jr., Kushner) had connections with, or were open to meetings with, Russians interested in affecting the election.

As Agent Sandusky told Ben Gates in “National Treasure,” “someone’s got to go to prison.” If there was collusion or illegal activity, there will be a trial, either in state or Federal court. State court is beyond the reach of Trump’s pardon power. Should Trump start throwing out pardons like prophylactics, Wray’s statements may serve more to implicate the president than to exonerate him.

Trump’s FBI Pick, Christopher Wray, Worked For Comey, Praised By Christie

One day before fired FBI Director James Comey is to testify under oath before the Senate Intelligence Committee, President Trump announced his nominee to be the next FBI director.

Christopher Wray is no stranger to the Department of Justice. From his bio:

Mr. Wray first joined the DOJ’s leadership as Associate Deputy Attorney General in May 2001 and was soon appointed the Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General in September of the same year, with oversight responsibilities spanning the full Department. From 1997 to 2001, Mr. Wray served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. As a prosecutor in Atlanta, he handled a wide variety of federal jury trials, grand jury investigations and appeals as lead counsel.

He was appointed by President George W. Bush as head of DOJ’s Criminal Division in 2003 under Comey, who was Deputy Attorney General, and resigned in 2005 before Comey himself resigned.

That was in the midst of the Valerie Plame/Scooter Libby scandal. While at Justice, Wray led the Enron Task Force, which resulted in five convictions and the end of Enron.

Since then, Wray has been a partner at white-shoe law firm King & Spalding‘s Washington D.C. office. He was Chris Christie’s personal attorney during the Bridgegate scandal investigation and trial.

Christie praised Trump’s choice.

When I had to retain legal counsel during a very, very troubling, confusing, difficult time for me, I made one phone call, and that was to Chris Wray. So I can’t give a better recommendation than that. I think the President of the United State should be commended. He did a deliberative process. He met lots of people from what I understand.

Wray should be a good fit at the FBI and well respected at DOJ. Whether he meshes with his ultimate boss in the Oval Office is a whole different omelet, with plenty of broken eggs to show for it.