Enable Call Tracing to Find Those Threatening Jewish Centers, Schumer Demands

Democratic Senator asks for help to 'stop the threats and thwart these phony calls that have a real economic and psychic impact.'

People being evacuated because of a bomb threat return to the David Posnack Jewish Community Center and David Posnack Jewish Day School, Monday, Feb. 27, 2017, in Davie, Florida.
Wilfredo Lee/AP

Sen. Chuck Schumer asked for a special waiver to be granted to make it possible to identify individuals making bomb threats against Jewish community centers and other institutions across the country, Newsday reported on Tuesday.

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Bomb threats against Jewish targets leaped from the East to the West Coast on Monday afternoon, bringing the number of centers threatened to 29 in the fifth such wave sweeping the United States. Schumer noted in his letter to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Varadaraj Pai that the bomb threats on Monday were made to Jewish community centers in 11 states.

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“Valuable intel” is needed “to help stop the threats and thwart these phony calls that have a real economic and psychic impact,” the Democratic Senator said in a news release. “Perpetrators terrorizing Jewish communities across the country – and here on Long Island – should not be allowed to hide in the shadows.”

The latest bomb threats against the JCCs across the U.S. were reportedly carried out using "spoofing," technology that makes a call appear like it's coming from a "friendly" or known source, while in fact it is not, Buzzfeed News reported.

Schumer said the waiver would make it possible for the victims of the threats to work with law enforcement to obtain "critical" caller ID information and thus reveal the identity of the offenders, Newsday reported. Callers are allowed by the FCC to have an anonymous number, but a wavier makes it possible to unscramble and identify such numbers, according to Schumer's spokesman, Angelo Roefaro.

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“We cannot give these fear-mongering criminals protection when they are instilling hate and panic,” Schumer said. “All communities and entities targeted by intimidation and fear deserve access to all of the tools needed to ensure these criminals are brought to justice.”

The FCC did not comment on the report.

Schumer gave an example of the successful use of the waiver in his letter to Pai. He said that Pai's predecessor, Tom Wheeler, worked with his office to provide a special waiver to the Middletown School District to access caller information for individuals who had called in threats.

Roefaro said that once Middletown got the waiver, about two months after the initial request was made, and the public knew about the waiver, the calls stopped.