By Suneel Chakravorty
Frank, in your recent post, once again it’s ad hominem ad infinitum.
Sure, there are things I don’t know about Keith Raniere, and things you don’t know.
I am not sure that the photographs of Lauren Salzman and Daniela [may her name forever be hidden. ] purportedly from 2005 were taken as blackmail or if they were taken for prurient reasons, or other reasons altogether.
Maybe for studies that Raniere had in mind – and as the folder suggests – if it was indeed a folder created by him.
If they were taken for blackmail, I would condemn that. If they were taken for prurient reasons, it’s not my business as long as the subjects are consenting adults. I doubt it was blackmail for when even women like Barbara Bouchey left, he never released any photos of them.
Of course, it is problematic if he took photos of an underage female, one whom by law cannot legally consented to having photos taken.
It may be true. He may have taken photos of Cami when she was underage, and it may not be true.
If it’s true, I condemn it.
However, what I am concerned in this debate with you is not whether he took pictures of Cami when she was 15, but whether or not agents of the FBI and other officials in the government, such as federal prosecutors, proved he took contraband photos with true, unaltered photographs, or whether they planted, falsified, and tampered with the evidence as a last-ditch effort to ensure a conviction in a case that otherwise could have been well-argued, was comprised of victims who were really all consenting adults, however misguided or well-guided – or even women who changed their minds and sought to blame it on him.
I agree with you, Frank, that what I have presented so far is entirely circumstantial evidence or coincidences.
Here are a few more circumstances for you to consider.
Booth thinks unsealed evidence is okay
FBI Examiner Brian Booth testified that the camera card, which was essential for linking the photographs to Raniere as the producer of them, was delivered to him by FBI Special Agent Michael Lever just 2 days before he took the stand and five weeks into the case.
If I were a prosecutor and I knew that my lead expert got one of the two critical pieces of evidence just days before trial, I would find that suspicious. Even more so because it arrived in an unsealed, cellophane bag.
Here is an amazing bit of Paul DerOhanessian’s cross-examination of Brian Booth:
Q And with respect to Government Exhibit 524, the LEXAR card, was that submitted to you in a bag of some sort?
A Yeah, it was a cellophane bag.
Q Was it a sealed cellophane bag?
A No, it was not.
It was not sealed?
What I have heard from an FBI expert is that unsealed evidence is a serious lapse in protocol, that it is paramount to seal and protect evidence, and that all employees of the Computer Analysis Response Team (CART), where Booth worked for over a decade, know that all evidence must be sealed, and whenever opened, evidence needs to be resealed afterwards with initials, to document the chain of custody.
From what I have been told, Booth’s statement is a revelation. Even minor evidence has to be sealed, let alone one of the most important pieces of evidence in the case.
Don’t believe me? Here is policy from the FBI manual, from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG):
“All FBI personnel, including agents, who handle digital evidence during the course of their duties must ensure that all digital evidence is handled, marked, and has a content review in accordance with relevant polices. Digital evidence ‘must be stored and secured and/or sealed to prevent data or evidentiary loss, cross-transfer contamination, or other deleterious change.’ Only certified digital evidence personnel, such as Computer Analysis Response Team members, may image digital evidence.”
But Booth got the camera card after the trial started and in an unsealed baggie. That might be good to bring in your peanut butter sandwich for lunch, but to hand over critical evidence late and unsealed is suspicious.
Let’s not forget that this camera card was what FBI SA Lever and his case agents held onto for 11 months. It should have been turned into evidence within 10 days.
Why is it supposed to be turned in within 10 days?
Because agents can’t do much with this evidence. It needs to be preserved and analyzed without being destroyed or altered. That’s why you give it to the lab, because it’s vital evidence that shouldn’t be corrupted.
A conviction might rest on the sanctity of that evidence.
Here’s the policy from the same OIG report:
“According to the FBI’s Field Evidence Management Policy Guide, evidence must be documented into the FBI Central Recordkeeping System no later than 10 calendar days after receipt. Similarly, the Digital Evidence Policy Guide states that, ‘Undocumented, “off the record” searches or reviews of [digital evidence] are not permitted.”
In the Raniere case, we have critical evidence, the camera card, without any chain of custody being presented, and arriving in an unsealed bag. I think the defense should have objected, but this should have been suspicious to the prosecution as well.
How did Booth handle the fact that this critical evidence came in unsealed, and with a broken chain of custody, and with a clearly broken chain of custody?
No biggie. Just another day at sloppy central.
The camera card was accessed and altered, by Booth’s own admission, by some unknown person, on September 19, 2018.
Here’s what Booth said, in his cross-examination by DerOhanessian:
Q And do you usually receive electronic evidence in unsealed boxes or bags?
A Not always. Sometimes the case agents would have needed to look at the item beforehand, and they might have unsealed it. So it doesn’t always come to us sealed.
Q And when an agent unseals evidence, a record is made of that?
A Not always.
Q Should a record be made of when evidence is opened or unsealed?
A No, I don’t think so. It doesn’t necessarily need to be.
Q Is it fair to say you have no idea when the box with the camera was unsealed?
A No, I do not.
I wonder what Christopher Wray, the director of the FBI, would think about Booth’s statement.
Does the FBI really want the American public to believe that unsealed evidence is normal, that it is to be expected?
I’ll try to give Mr. Wray a call. My question would be, “Is it true when FBI Examiner Brian Booth says that unsealed evidence is to be expected?”
Prosecution and Judge Said Nothing
At this point, the prosecution should have stopped and asked the court, “Your Honor, may we approach? Our expert witness said something we believe is untrue because we’ve done many cases and we know that sealed evidence is important. This is one of the most critical pieces of evidence. We want to make sure this was sealed evidence, an unbroken chain of custody, and all protocols were followed. After all, we are officers of the court, and the name of our agency is the Department of Justice.
Besides, we do not want any issue on appeal. Of course, it is preposterous what this silly man said, that evidence does not need to be sealed. We all know, your honor you know it, as does everyone at the FBI that unsealed evidence is not protocol.”
But that’s not what they said, nor would I expect them to say it. They were silent, and in their closing arguments they extolled Booth for his knowledge of EXIF data, which we know is a bunch of baloney.
It is understandable that the prosecution heard this and said nothing, for even though they should be interested in justice as their department’s name suggests, we all know were only interested in conviction stats and publicity.
Still, the judge should be interested in justice. He is supposed to be neutral. The judge, the Honorable Nicholas G. Garaufis, said he has presided over 500 cases.
I am sure he knows that chain of custody is paramount to the integrity of evidence, especially digital evidence that can easily be altered or botched, and that this camera card being unsealed is not common, not in the court of Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis.
Judge Garaufis was an active, alert judge throughout this case. In Mark Vicente’s cross-examination by Marc Agnifilo, Raniere’s defense attorney, the judge interjected to ask how long flights to Fiji were:
THE COURT: Did you take this picture?
THE WITNESS: I did take this picture, yes.
Q Did you enjoy yourself in Fiji?
A Not particularly, I was shooting all the time.
THE COURT: How long did it take you to get to Fiji in hours?
THE WITNESS: I think maybe 18, maybe more. It’s like going to Australia, but there is more flights involved.
Recall that the judge intervened to help Daniela with the word “abdomen” and even had her stand up so she could show it on her body.
When Lauren Salzman, a woman in her forties, began to weep, Judge Garaufis took notice at once, and chivalrously dismissed her from enduring further cross examination.
Judge Garaufis explained to Agnifilo: “I may not get everything right up here, but I will tell you, as a human being, it was the right decision. Alright? And before I’m a judge, I’m a human being.”
This was a judge alert and on the lookout, yet when the moment came that critical evidence was revealed to be unsealed, the chains of custody not provided, when the FBI forensic examiner Booth says, “This unsealed evidence is just fine,” it did not alert this most active judge to leap up and say, “I don’t care how contemptible, how odious Raniere is, I know unsealed evidence is not common, what Booth is saying isn’t true. Stop the shenanigans. You have enough to win. I will ensure through my jury instructions that the jury will convict Raniere. But don’t allow something improper like this to go on the record”?
Summary & Cyber Experts
That’s the last circumstantial point I want to make. Now, let’s summarize the circumstantial things. See if enough coincidences equal a fact:
- The FBI agents “found” the bombshell Cami photos on a hard drive, but only after they had it for 11 months, when nobody was willing to take a plea deal and trial was right around the corner.
- The FBI agents held onto the devices for way longer than protocol, 11 months for the camera card and 4.5 months for the hard drive, instead of 10 days.
- Someone got into the camera card before it got to the lab, and it was altered on September 19, 2018.
- The FBI expert was unable to say who got into the camera card. Maybe it was elves.
- EXIF data was how they proved the dates of the Cami photos, their examiner Brian Booth said it is really reliable, and hard to change. We know that’s not true.
- No one who knew Cami was asked to identify the photos. Any reasonable person would say the prosecutors avoided having Daniela and Lauren identify the Cami photos, or even their own photos.
- The camera card arrived in an unsealed bag with a broken chain of custody.
- Booth said unsealed evidence is not extraordinary, which is not true.
- The prosecutors said nothing, the judge said nothing, and yes, the defense said nothing.
I agree with you, Frank. Those are all circumstantial, but peculiar. Maybe you’ll say it’s confirmation bias, but if you think this is meaningless, I think your confirmation bias might be greater than mine.
Circumstantial evidence isn’t enough. We should get independent forensics experts to look at the metadata, look at the file system data, and look at the government reports.
And that’s what we did. There are reputable experts who respect and support law enforcement and the rule of law.
You know their names. I stated them in my letter to Judge Eric Komitee on October 30, 2021, in response to the attempts of that Earl of Exaggeration, Neil Glazer, to involve me in a civil lawsuit to which I am not party.
Here’s what I wrote of our experts and their findings in that letter, publicly filed as Document no. 121 in the civil cases:
Dr. James Richard Kiper, Ph.D., who served in the FBI for twenty years and retired in 2019, in good standing. He is a celebrated whistleblower and the “raison d’etre” of the FBI Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2016.
Mr. Steve Abrams, M.S., J.D., who has advised and trained federal, state and local law enforcement in cyber forensics for three decades, on over 1,200 cases.
Mr. Wayne Norris, who has been an expert witness in roughly 100 cases, holds several patents in nuclear instrumentation, and has a diverse technical background, from working on the Apollo project, to project managing for the US Navy, to digital forensics.
These experts stated that prior to this case they had never seen or claimed to have seen credible evidence of tampering on the part of any law enforcement. After examining the forensic evidence, they issued reports which may be used in a motion in the criminal case, and here are some of their findings:
- FBI Senior Forensic Examiner Brian Booth provided false testimony.
- An unknown person improperly accessed and altered data on the camera card on 9/19/18.
- Photos were added to the camera card while the device was in FBI custody, between 4/11/19 and 6/11/19.
- Date and times of photos on the hard drive were manually altered.
- Folder names were manually set to exact dates and times in 2005, to corroborate the fabricated photo dates.
- The backup folder on the hard drive containing the photos was backdated and manually placed on the hard drive and efforts were made to conceal the forgery and make it look like a legitimate automatic computer backup.
- Dr. Kiper writes in his technical report, “In my 20 years as an FBI agent, I have never observed or claimed that an FBI employee tampered with evidence, digital or otherwise. But in this case, I strongly believe the multiple, intentional alterations to the digital information I have discovered constitute evidence manipulation. And when so many human-generated alterations happen to align with the government’s narrative, I believe any reasonable person would conclude that evidence tampering had taken place. My analysis demonstrates that some of these alterations definitely took place while the devices were in the custody of the FBI. Therefore, in the absence of any other plausible explanation it is my expert opinion that the FBI must have been involved in this evidence tampering.”
- Mr. Abrams writes, “[I]t saddens me to conclude that the most plausible explanation for these artifacts is manual alteration of the digital photographic and file system evidence and an unsuccessful attempt to cover that manual alteration, at least some of which had to have occurred while the evidence was in the custody of the FBI.”
- Mr. Norris writes, “I believe based on what I have reviewed that Dr. Kiper is correct in his assessments that no plausible explanation exists for the anomalies in the Government’s exhibits other than intentional tampering on the part of the Government.”
Admittedly Frank, I have an advantage. I have seen the analysis. I know what’s coming, and you’ll just have to wait.
The forthcoming Rule 33 motion on FBI tampering will be devastating. I don’t know who will be implicated.
Certainly, the extraordinary Brian Booth, the zealous Michael Lever, and others are suspect.
As for Daniela, you mentioned her in your post. I don’t know Daniela. I’ve never met her. I saw her testify at trial, and in the trial, she admitted she is a hacker and admitted to other criminal conduct, for example:
- Entering the United States illegally (See page 2436)
- Attempting to hack into the email account of Joe O’Hara through the technique of key logging (See pages 2532 – 2538)
- Hacking into James Loperfido’s emails account through key logging (See pages 2541 – 2544)
- Hacking into Edgar Bronfman’s email through key logging (See pages 2547 – 2556)
- Hacking into her sister Marianna’s Facebook account through key logging (See pages 2559 – 2564)
- Stealing $6,000 from NXIVM (See page 3051)
Glazer says of her and her computer abilities, in his First Amended Complaint, that Daniela provided NXIVM “labor and services in: IT and cybersecurity.”
Yeah, that’s one way to put it.
Daniela testified she had access – effectively unfettered access – to 8 Hale Drive where the hard drive and camera card were found.
She testified she took care of the backups.
She may have taken backups to Mexico. I believe she was working with the prosecution very early on.
I don’t know if she provided the Cami photos that I and the experts believe were planted. I don’t know if she was involved at all.
If she was, I don’t know whether it was before or after she was involved in the civil lawsuit, or whether she decided to be in the civil lawsuit before or after the trial.
But I suspect the truth will come out soon.
Regardless, I would hope that even you, Frank, with your anti-Raniere confirmation bias, when you see the Rule 33 motion and the evidence, the undeniable, unassailable conclusions of experts, who have no love for Raniere or NXIVM, they’ve never met him, never spoken with him, never met Clare Bronfman or spoken with her, and have no connection to NXIVM, these experts who support law enforcement and are saddened by what they’ve seen, I hope it saddens you too.
Perhaps your readers think it’s okay if FBI agents cheat and lie to nail Raniere the Repugnant, and he ought to stay in prison no matter what.
Maybe they’ll want to dismiss me altogether as biased. Maybe I’m a bad messenger, the worst of them all because I bring a message that no one wants to hear.
It’s a small step from cheating to convict Raniere to cheating to convict the second most reviled person, then the third, then someone who is mildly disliked, to someone who is just in your way.
If this Rule 33 motion fails on its merits, so be it. But if it fails because the corruption that birthed and executed an elaborate plot to tamper, falsify, and lie has reared its ugly head once again, this is not good and it will not stand.
I think you are a reasonable man, Frank, and despite making an international career out of antagonizing NXIVM, its students, and its leadership, rightfully or wrongfully, I don’t believe you would look the other way and let this be swept like so much dirt we don’t want to see under the rug.
I don’t believe you are part of the cult of The-Government-Can-Do-No-Wrong or that we should believe everything FBI agents or federal prosecutors tell us.
Even if it’s true that Raniere abused Camila, and your position is well known [that you believe he did], if you see the facts show that FBI agents, possibly in collusion with the prosecution, possibly with the help of civilians, such as a Philadelphia lawyer and technically-minded civilians in the United States or in Mexico, conspired to falsify evidence over a period of months, you would not let your personal hatred of Raniere, Bronfman, and NXIVM, or your fondness for said lawyer, or Mexican señoritas, to stop you from exposing an even bigger bully than you believe Raniere to be.
Let the carping critics now speak.
Phew, dude, you certainly went full tilt on this one. I was just relaxing a bit today having thought I heard the last from you for a while. But here you go again. This is remarkable – for its accusatory vehemence – must be rebutted. I will do so. Stay tuned.