FBI made up a fake news story on a bogus Seattle Times webpage in order to plant specific software on the computer of a suspect who had sent numerous bomb threats to Timberline High School way back in 2007, according to the documents received by the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco.
It was first publicized on Monday when Christopher Soghoian, the principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union revealed it on Twitter.
He called the incident outrageous and was of the view that it would severely detriment the public trust.
EFF documents reveal that the FBI created a fake story about the Thurston County bomb threats with an email link similar to that of Seattle Times. This link was sent to the suspect’s MySpace account. Upon clicking it, a hidden FBI software sent his location and Internet Protocol information to the agents. After which, the suspect was identified and arrested on June 14.
The affected newspaper responded severely and were outraged at the FBI, along with the assistance of US Attorney’s office, misused the name of The Seattle Times.
Kathy Best, an editor at The Seattle Times said ” Not only does that cross a line, it erases it. Our reputation and our ability to do our job as a government watchdog are based on trust. Nothing is more fundamental to that trust than our independence — from law enforcement, from government, from corporations and from all other special interests”.
A special agent in charge of the FBI in Seattle defended the investigation and the technique. “Every effort we made in this investigation had the goal of preventing a tragic event like what happened at Marysville and Seattle Pacific University. We identified a specific subject of an investigation and used a technique that we deemed would be effective in preventing a possible act of violence in a school setting. Use of that type of technique happens in very rare circumstances and only when there is sufficient reason to believe it could be successful in resolving a threat,” he said.