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FBI Director Comey: ISIS May Try to Take More Hostages to Gain Concessions

American war reporter James Wright Foley was beheaded by ISIS.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director James Comey said he’s worried that more Americans are at risk of being kidnapped by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, CBS News reports.

“We are deeply concerned about the safety and security of American citizens worldwide,” Comey said in his written testimony ahead of a hearing in front of the House Homeland Security Committee. “ISIL and other foreign terrorist organizations may continue to try to capture American hostages in an attempt to force the U.S. government and people into making concessions that would only strengthen ISIL and further its terrorist operations.”

ISIS has already beheaded two American journalists.

Unlike some European countries, the U.S. does not pay ransoms.

“The U.S. policy of not paying ransom to kidnappers is longstanding and it is sound. It would be a mistake of strategic proportions to change that policy,” Michael Morell, the former deputy director of the CIA and a CBS News national security analyst, said last month. “If we were to do so, many more Americans would be kidnapped…and we would be become an ATM for militant groups around the world.”


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Border Patrol to Test Body Cameras Following Complaints from Activists

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Border Patrol is beginning to test body cameras following complaints from activists, the Associated Press reports.

The body cameras were purchased and will be tested at Border Patrol’s training academy.

The news came during a meeting with activists who have urged the federal government to use the cameras.

It remained unclear whether the cameras would be introduced to the field.

According to the AP, the National Border Patrol Council likely will oppose the measure.

“We want to make sure these are used to back up agents, not to persecute them,” Shawn Moran, a spokesman for the agent’s union, said. “If they’re used correctly by the agency, they will offer an independent account in use-of-force incidents or any type of incident. We do have concerns management would use them to look for administrative violations.”


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FBI to Begin Tracking Animal Cruelty Cases in National Crime Report

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Animal cruelty cases will soon be tracked by the FBI.

The USA Today reports that the bureau animal cruelty cases will be added to the Uniform Crime Report, which tracks other crimes such as murder, assault and burglary.

“No longer will extremely violent cases be included in the ‘other offense’ category simply because the victims were animals. Just as the FBI tracks hate crimes and other important categories, we will now have critical data on animal cruelty,” said Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States.

“This is a great step in the right direction,” said Annette Laico, CEO of Progressive Animal Welfare Society in Lynnwood, Washington.

The Humane Society has been urging the FBI for years to begin tracking the cases.

The FBI didn’t respond to requests for a comment.


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FBI Director Says Memo about Turf Battles Among Agencies ‘Made My Head Explode’

FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director James Comey expressed no patience with reported turf battles between the FBI and other federal agencies, Politico reports.

Comey said he was rattled after reading a memo about the turf battles.

“That report made my head explode,” Comey said at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing Wednesday. “I shared that head explosion with every leader in the FBI, to let them know how I think about it, which is that the FBI does nothing alone….The American taxpayer should have no patience for turf battles. I got none.”

Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-South Carolina, said he’s concerned.

“I appreciate y’all’s communication. I’m concerned about the communication where the rubber meets the road. And that’s where the communication needs to happen. And if you’ve got turf wars going on, I’m afraid that information may not be shared appropriately,” Duncan said.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said he met with Comey on Wednesday to discuss cybersecurity.

“One of our challenges is to make sure that what you refer to doesn’t happen, because that doesn’t do any good for the American people, for our government, for the taxpayers, to see us engaged in turf wars. So we have committed to setting the example at the top and instilling that example in the rank and file in our leadership,” the secretary said.

Other Stories of Interest



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Is Attorney General Eric Holder Getting Ready to Call it Quits?

file photo

 
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. has stuck around longer than many had anticipated.

ButAl Kamen and Colby Itkowitz of the Washington Post say there’s speculation that he could call it quits, possibly by the end of the year.

Then again, the Post writes, that the shooting of an unarmed teen in Ferguson, could make him hang in a while longer.

The Post goes on:

On the other hand, his travel schedule this month could give another clue to his intentions.

One of his major goals, we understand, is to visit every U.S. attorney’s office in the country — all 93 of them. He’s been doing that since he settled in at the Justice Department, and now there are only three left on the list — and he’s traveling to two of them this week, in Louisville and Lexington, Ky.

In other words, he wants to check that mission off his bucket list before calling it quits


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Dr. Evil Pleads Guilty to Massive Medicare Fraud and Giving Unnecessary Chemo Treatment

Featured_dr._farid_fata_7302Dr. Farid Fata/ photo from his website.

By Allan Lengel
Deadline Detroit

DETROIT – Medicare fraud is pervasive in Detroit and elsewhere in the country. The U.S. Attorney’s Office here is constantly prosecuting cases, some involving some very big amounts of money.

But no case in recent times has garnered more attention in Detroit than the Medicare fraud scandal involving oncologist/hematologist Dr. Farid Fata of Oakland County, who was not only accused of bilking Medicare  of tens of millions of dollars, but of also misdiagnosing patients, telling them they had cancer when they didn’t,  and of giving unnecessary chemotherapy to people, some of whom didn’t even have cancer or couldn’t have possibly benefited at the stage of cancer they were in.

The case was simply a scary reminder that someone in a position of authority and trust can take advantage of people in their most vulnerable state.

On Tuesday, Dr. Fata, 49, of Oakland Township, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to several counts of health care fraud, money laundering and conspiracy, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Specifically, Fata pleaded guilty to 13 counts  of health care fraud, one count of conspiracy to pay or receive kickbacks and two counts of money laundering. Sentencing is set for Feb. 23 where he could face some serious prison time and fines.

“At a time when they are most vulnerable and fearful, cancer patients put their lives in the hands of doctors and endure risky treatments at their recommendation,”  Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said in a statement.

 “Dr. Fata today admitted he put greed before the health and safety of his patients, putting them through unnecessary chemotherapy and other treatments just so that he could collect additional millions from Medicare.  The mere thought of what he did is chilling.  Thanks to the quick action of our partners, he was arrested and has now admitted his guilt.”

Fata operated a cancer treatment clinic, Michigan Hematology Oncology, which had offices in Rochester Hills, Clarkston, Bloomfield Hills, Lapeer, Sterling Heights, Troy and Oak Park.  He also owned a diagnostic testing facility, United Diagnostics PLLC, in Rochester Hills. 

Authorities said that Fata submitted approximately $225 million in claims to Medicare between August 2007 and July 2013. In the end, Medicare paid out more than $91 million to Fata, of which over $48 million was for chemotherapy and other cancer treatments.

In court on Tuesday, the doctor read aloud an admission that he submitted false Medicare and insurance claims and ordered “medically unnecessary” treatments, according to the Detroit News. 

The plea came just weeks before his Oct. 14 trial.

The News quoted Liz Lupo, the daughter of a former Fata patient who died of lung cancer in 2007. She expressed disappointment in the plea.

“He’s not being charged with enough,” she said. “He pled guilty to a handful of patients when there were thousands. We wanted to hear the details about how he was allowed to (do this).”

 


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Edward Reinhold to Head up the FBI’s Knoxville Division

Edward Reinhold

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Edward W. Reinhold has been named special agent in charge of the FBI’s Knoxville Division.

Reinhold most recently served as a section chief for the National Name Check Program in the Records Management Division at FBI headquarters, the FBI said in a press release.

Reinhold joined the FBI in 1987 and was first assigned to the Las Cruces resident agency of the Albuquerque Division.

Ten years later, he was promoted to a supervisory special agent at headquarters in the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division, where he was responsible for training law enforcement organizations throughout the world in the various CJIS systems and programs, the FBI said.

In 2000, he became a supervisory senior resident agent in Augusta, Ga.

In 2007, he was promoted to assistant special agent in charge of the Omaha Division, where he oversaw criminal, cyber, and administrative matters until 2012 when he returned to headquarters.

 


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Stejskal: A Book Review About Baseball, A-Rod and the Steroid Era

Blood Sport: Alex Rodriguez, Biogenesis, and the Quest to End baseball’s Steroid Era , By Tim Elfrink and Gus Garcia-Roberts

Greg Stejskal

Greg Stejskal served as an FBI agent for 31 years and retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office.

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

This is not a traditional book review as those are usually done about the time a book is published and first available for sale. Also in the interest of full disclosure, another retired FBI agent and I are mentioned in the book albeit briefly and tangential to the primary focus of the book. The mention is related to a FBI steroid investigation we did in the early ‘90s. I’ll explain more about that later.

One of the authors of Blood Sport, Tim Elfrink, is a reporter for the “Miami New Times”, and he broke the story of the Biogenesis/Major League Baseball performance enhancing drugs scandal. Tony Bosch, Biogenesis’ founder and owner, had become a supplier of PEDs to a number professional and college baseball players. Several the MLB players were some of biggest stars in the game, and one Alex Rodriguez, “A-Rod,” the highest paid player in the history of the game.

Blood Sport is not only a great telling of the sordid story of Bosch peddling steroids and other PEDs to baseball players, but it’s an insider’s perspective of investigative journalism. The Biogenesis saga is arguably the biggest scandal in MLB since the “Black Sox” conspiracy that fixed the 1919 World Series.

In setting the stage for the Biogenesis story, Blood Sport describes some of the very early efforts to gain an advantage by the use of chemical enhancement. One such episode occurred in 1889 and involved a 32-year-old pitcher for the (Pittsburg) Alleghenies.

The pitcher, James “Pud” Galvin, had been one of the best pitchers of the era, but at 32 was past his prime. He was asked to participate in an experiment involving the use of an anti-aging elixir which was administered by injection and was nothing more than a liquid derived from the crushed testicles of animals. (Pud’s elixir came from sheep testicles, Rocky Mountain Oysters.)

The experiment was publically known and not illegal. (The sale and use of drugs was not regulated by the US government until the early 1900s.) Pud pitched a great game, and for short time his performance was proclaimed as proof the elixir worked. It was later determined that the elixar’s relatively small amount of testosterone could not have enhanced Pud’s pitching. He probably benefited from the psychological benefit of the placebo effect. But in thinking that the male hormone, testosterone, might have performance enhancing potential, they were on to something.

Blood Sport goes on to trace some of the other efforts to gain advantage in sports through chemistry like the open and pervasive use of amphetamines starting in the 50s and going into the 80s and to some extent the present.

Contemporaneous with the decline of amphetamine use began the use of PEDs that could dramatically improve a player’s performance and potentially destroy the integrity of sports – anabolic steroids. Anabolic steroids are synthetic testosterone which in large amounts increases muscle size and strength. Not all steroids have this anabolic effect, but the steroids that are considered PEDs and illegal are anabolic. Testosterone is produced in males’ testicles, but much larger amounts than occur naturally are needed to enhance athletic performance.

The use of steroids as PEDs came later to baseball than to some other sports, notably football, but when they did come, it was with a vengeance.

This is where the “full-disclosure” thing I mentioned earlier comes in. It was gratifying that Blood Sport tells the story of the advent of the first major federal investigation of steroids, a FBI undercover operation dubbed Equine, and how it relates to MLB’s “steroid era.”

Equine started with a meeting of the legendary Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler, his strength and conditioning coach, Mike Gittleson, and me. Bo’s reason for meeting with me was his concern that steroids were becoming prevalent in high school and college football. Steroids were illegal under federal law except by prescription for rare circumstances that did not include enhanced performance in sports. So inspired by Bo, I decided to initiate an undercover operation, Equine, that targeted the illegal distribution of steroids. That UCO ultimately resulted in the successful prosecution of over 70 dealers in the US, Canada and Mexico and the seizure of millions of dosage units of steroids and human growth hormone (HGH).

Read more »


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