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FBI insists it hasn’t used ‘Pegasus’ spyware after grilling from Capitol Hill

Source image: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/fbi-insists-hasnt-used-pegasus-spyware-grilling-capitol-hill

The FBI has not used Pegasus spyware in any of its operations, the organization told Fox News on Tuesday amid scrutiny from Capitol Hill.

The FBI has faced criticism in recent months after it purchased a license to use the highly effective spyware program. FBI officials have insisted they did not end up using the program and had intended to only use it for research. Nevertheless, internal documents suggest they had plans to expand its use–including for tracking Americans.

FBI Director Christopher Wray faced a grilling from members of Congress on the issue in hearings earlier this year, where he stated that his organization had never used to program.

“The Director’s testimony was accurate when given and remains true today – there has been no operational use of the NSO product to support any FBI investigation,” the FBI told Fox.

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WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 12:  FBI director nominee Christopher Wray testifies during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee July 12, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 12:  FBI director nominee Christopher Wray testifies during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee July 12, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a member of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, speaks with members of the press after a hearing at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, June 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a member of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, speaks with members of the press after a hearing at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, June 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-OR, accused FBI Director Chris Wray of essentially lying – or at least fudging the truth – in testimony earlier this year. Wray was asked about the FBI’s purchase of the spyware and bureau plans to use it in criminal investigations, including to track Americans. Wray insisted the FBI would only use Pegasus for “research,” but the New York Times soon obtained internal FBI documents indicating this wasn’t accurate – the FBI had hoped to use Pegasus more broadly.

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Pegasus has already proven capable of infiltrating the phones of U.S. officials working overseas, something Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., highlighted in a spyware hearing this summer.

“Late last year, multiple news organizations reported that mobile phones used by U.S. diplomats in Uganda had been compromised by NASA’s Pegasus tool,” Schiff said at the time. “It is my belief that we are very likely looking at the tip of the iceberg and that other U.S. government personnel have had their devices compromised, whether by a nation state using NSA services or tools offered by one of its lesser known but equally potent competitors.”

People hold posters picturing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and lightened candles during a gathering outside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, on October 25, 2018. - Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor, was killed on October 2, 2018 after a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain paperwork before marrying his Turkish fiancee. 

People hold posters picturing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and lightened candles during a gathering outside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, on October 25, 2018. – Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor, was killed on October 2, 2018 after a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain paperwork before marrying his Turkish fiancee. 
(YASIN AKGUL/AFP via Getty Images)

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Experts say the spyware has legitimate uses but is also a powerful tool for authoritarian governments. Mexico used Pegasus in its effort to track down El Chapo, but Saudi Arabia also used it to track journalist Jamal Khashoggi prior to orchestrating his murder, according to cyber defense expert John Blessing.

Source: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/fbi-insists-hasnt-used-pegasus-spyware-grilling-capitol-hill

Politics

Utah governor signs gender-affirming health care ban, school choice bills into law

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox on Saturday signed a bill banning gender-affirming surgery on minors who have not been diagnosed with gender dysphoria. 

The state’s Republican-dominated Legislature prioritized the ban and considered a first draft of the measure less than 10 days ago, two days after the Legislature opened this year’s session Jan. 17. Gov. Cox signed it a day after the Legislature sent it to his desk. 

FILE: Utah Gov. Spencer Cox speaks during an interview at the Utah State Capitol on March 4, 2022, in Salt Lake City. 

FILE: Utah Gov. Spencer Cox speaks during an interview at the Utah State Capitol on March 4, 2022, in Salt Lake City. 
(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

The governor said it was important to pause “these permanent and life-altering treatments for new patients until more and better research can help determine the long-term consequences.”

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“While we understand our words will be of little comfort to those who disagree with us, we sincerely hope that we can treat our transgender families with more love and respect as we work to better understand the science and consequences behind these procedures,” he said.

Among the critics is the ACLU of Utah, which on Friday urged Cox to veto the bill.

In a letter to Cox, the civil rights organization said it was deeply concerned about “the damaging and potentially catastrophic effects this law will have on people’s lives and medical care and the grave violations of people’s constitutional rights it will cause.

“By cutting off medical treatment supported by every major medical association in the United States, the bill compromises the health and well-being of adolescents with gender dysphoria. It ties the hands of doctors and parents by restricting access to the only evidence-based treatment available for this serious medical condition and impedes their ability to fulfill their professional obligations,” the letter said.

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The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Mike Kennedy, a Republican family doctor has said government overnight is necessary for vital health care policy related to gender and youth. 

People gather in support of transgender youth during a rally at the Utah State Capitol Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, in Salt Lake City. 

People gather in support of transgender youth during a rally at the Utah State Capitol Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, in Salt Lake City. 
(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

“Legislation that impacts our most vulnerable youth requires careful consideration and deliberation. While not a perfect bill, we are grateful for Sen. Kennedy’s more nuanced and thoughtful approach to this terribly divisive issue,” Cox said in a statement. 

“More and more experts, states and countries around the world are pausing these permanent and life-altering treatments for new patients until more and better research can help determine the long-term consequences.”

Utah’s bill comes as lawmakers in at least 18 states consider similar bills targeting health care for young transgender people.

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Cox also signed another measure that would give students school-choice style scholarships to attend schools outside the public education system. The bill also increased teacher pay and benefits in an effort to ease the state’s teacher shortage.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Poll shows 0% of Black voters had ‘poor’ voting experience in November despite Biden claim of ‘Jim Crow 2.0’

A new poll shows 0% of Georgia’s Black voters had a “poor” experience casting a ballot in the midterm elections in November, the first since new voting laws took hold in the Peach State.

The results of the University of Georgia poll and high turnout proved voters saw “through the lies” despite claims from Democrats and the White House that said the new law represents “Jim Crow 2.0,” Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told Fox News Digital.

“Partisan critics of Georgia’s elections described our processes and security measures as ‘Jim Crow 2.0’ designed to ‘suppress’ voters and ‘subvert’ elections,” Raffensperger said in a statement this week. 

“But record-breaking midterm voter turnout, minimal voter wait times and an overwhelming majority of voters approving of how our election went prove that Georgia voters see through those lies. They know that Georgia elections are safe, secure and accessible to every legal voter.”  

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President Joe Biden and a Georgia primary voter

President Joe Biden and a Georgia primary voter
(Getty Images)

The poll showed 0% of Black respondents felt their voting experience was “poor” during the last election. Just over 72% of Black voters polled said the experience was “excellent” and 23.6% said the experience was “good.”

Additionally, almost 99% of voters said they had no issues casting a ballot and 95.3% of voters said they waited less than 30 minutes.

According to the poll, which was answered by 1,253 Georgia residents who say they voted, 84.1% of Black voters said they strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement that it is “easy to cast a ballot in the state of Georgia” compared to 15.9% who disagreed or didn’t know.

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Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger speaks to the Buckhead Young Republicans, on May 19, 2022, in Atlanta.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger speaks to the Buckhead Young Republicans, on May 19, 2022, in Atlanta.
(Fox News)

Georgia voter turnout has continued to shatter records despite the 2021 legislation that Democrats, including Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and President Biden, insisted would make it harder for Black residents to vote.

In a March 2021 statement, Biden referred to the Georgia legislation as an “attack on the right to vote” containing provisions that “effectively deny the right to vote to countless voters.”

WHITE HOUSE PRESSED ON BIDEN COMPARING GEORGIA VOTING LAW TO ‘JIM CROW’ DESPITE RECORD TURNOUT

Georgia officials insist the new voting law makes elections more secure with various safeguards, while also citing record turnout as evidence voter suppression isn't happening.

Georgia officials insist the new voting law makes elections more secure with various safeguards, while also citing record turnout as evidence voter suppression isn’t happening.
(Stephen Goin)

“This is Jim Crow in the 21st century,” Biden said. “It must end. We have a moral and constitutional obligation to act.”

Biden’s Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Georgia, saying the new law was “adopted with a racially motivated purpose” that has “no place in democracy today.” 

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Georgia officials have insisted the law makes elections more secure with various voting safeguards, while also citing record turnout as evidence voter suppression isn’t happening.

“When it came time to actually present evidence to support their ridiculous talking points in court, President Biden’s DOJ and their liberal allies failed miserably,” Raffensperger told Fox News Digital in September. “That’s because the common sense election reforms in Georgia’s Election Integrity Act, like photo-ID for all forms of voting, make sense.’

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital.

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Rep. McCaul on Air Force general’s prediction of 2025 war with China: ‘I hope he’s wrong … I think he’s right’

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, weighed in on the prediction from four-star Air Force Gen. Mike Minihan, who warned his commanders to prepare for war with China in roughly two years’ time.

Minihan predicted that fighting will come after China takes advantage of the U.S. being preoccupied with the 2024 election to take action against Taiwan, which will be focused on their elections next year as well.

“I hope he’s wrong,” McCaul told “Fox News Sunday” host Shannon Bream. “I think he’s right though, unfortunately.”

McCaul explained that China very much wants “reunification” of Taiwan with mainland China. He said that could come about through influencing the Taiwanese elections in early 2024.

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“But if they don’t win in that one they are going to look at a military invasion, in my judgment. We have to be prepared for this.”

McCaul said “as long as Biden is in office projecting weakness,” there are “very high” odds of this happening. He cited the Biden administration’s failure with the withdrawal from Afghanistan, which he said led to Russia invading Ukraine.

Later in the program, House Armed Services Committee ranking member Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., disagreed with McCaul and Minihan’s assessment of possible war with China.

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“I want to be completely clear. It’s not only not inevitable, it’s highly unlikely,” he said.

Smith acknowledged that “anything is possible” and the military should be prepared, said “generals should be very cautious” with what they say and should not be telling the world that the U.S. is going to war with China, most importantly because we’re not.”

The Democrat said that while the U.S. must be able to deter China, he is “very confident” that a military conflict can be avoided.

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NBC News reported Friday that Minihan, head of Air Mobility Command, warned air wing commanders in a memo that his “gut” tells him a conflict with China is coming. 

The general said “a fortified, ready, integrated, and agile Joint Force Maneuver Team ready to fight and win inside the first island chain” needs to be established to prepare for the looming fight, and instructed commanders to report back by Feb. 28 on steps they will take to prepare for the war against China. 

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