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Archive for January, 2014

Justice Department to Dramatically Expand Rules Aimed at Profiling by Federal Agents

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr.

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

In a move to address decades of concerns about the protection of civil rights, the Justice Department plans to expand its definition of racial profiling to alleviate discrimination by religion, nationality, gender and sexual orientation, the New York Times reports.

Although the Bush administration banned racial profiling in 2003, it provided exclusions for national security cases and Latinos for immigration probes.

Attorney General Eric Holder wants that to change, the Times wrote.

“Putting an end to this practice not only comports with the Constitution, it would put real teeth to the F.B.I.’s claims that it wants better relationships with religious minorities,” said Hina Shamsi, a national security lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union.

It’s unclear when the new rules will go into effect.

Budget Cuts Dramatically Reduce Spending on Homeland Security Headquarters

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A new Homeland Security headquarters in Washington will be much smaller than initially conceived because of budget cuts approved by the House on Wednesday, the Washington Post reports.

Instead of having $354 million for the HQ, the agency will have about $155 million.

The Republican-Controlled House Appropriations Committee described the bill as “responsible choices to save taxpayer dollars by reducing overhead costs and cutting funding for lower-priority programs.”

Homeland Security, the third largest department in the federal government, has operated for 11 years without a consolidated headquarters, the Post wrote.

Was California Man Retaliated Against for Shooting Cell Phone Video of Border Patrol Agent?

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

A California man says he was arrested in retaliation for shooting cell phone video of a Border Patrol agent appearing to use excessive force while trying to arrest an undocumented worker, ABC 10 News reports.

“I think this is a classic example of what we call excessive use of force in its literal definition,” said American Civil Liberties Union attorney Mitra Ebadoulahi. “The force is excessive, it’s uncalled for.”

After capturing the video, agents demanded and retrieved the video from Jose Guzman, who said he handed it over without a search warrant because he was a parolee and didn’t want trouble.

But trouble is what he got.

Two days later, Guzman’s probation officer called to say that his GPS ankle bracelet wasn’t working properly. When he brought it in for inspection, he was arrested.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST


Ex-Fed Prosecutor James Baker Named General Counsel for FBI

James Baker

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

James A. Baker, a former federal prosecutor,  has been named the general counsel for the FBI.

Baker, a University of Michigan Law School graduate, clerked for U.S. District Court Judge Bernard A. Friedman in Detroit before joining the Department of Justice with the Criminal Division through the Attorney General’s Honors Program in 1990. He worked as a federal prosecutor with the division’s Fraud Section.

In 1996, he joined the former Office of Intelligence Policy and Review (OIPR), which later became part of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

From 2001 to 2007, he served as counsel for intelligence policy and head of OIPR.

Back in 2006, Carol Leonnig of the Washington Post reported  that in 2004 Baker discovered “the government’s failure to share information about its spying program had rendered useless a federal screening system that the judges had insisted upon to shield the court from tainted information. He alerted (U.S. District Judge Colleen)  Kollar-Kotelly, who complained to Justice, prompting a temporary suspension of the NSA spying program.”

From 2008 to 2009, Baker was assistant general counsel for national security at Verizon Business. He then returned to the Justice Department and from 2009 to 2011, served as an associate deputy attorney general where he worked on a range of national security issues, including cyber security.

He last worked as associate general counsel for  Bridgewater Associates, one of the world’s largest hedge fund firms based in Connecticut.

“Jim’s experience as a career prosecutor and as a national security official, as well his experience in the private sector, make him an excellent fit for his new position here at the FBI,” FBI Director James Comey said in a statement.

 

David T. Resch Heads Up FBI’s Little Rock Division

David Resch/FBI photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

David T. Resch, who most recently served as chief of the Tactical Operations Section in the FBI’s Operational Technology Division in Quantico, Va., has been named special agent in charge of the FBI’s Little Rock, Ark. office.

Resch became an agent in 1996, and was first assigned to the Houston Division, where worked criminal matters and served as the crimes against children coordinator and the kidnapping coordinator, the FBI said in a press release.

In 2003, he was promoted to the Crisis Management Unit in the Critical Incident Response Group and then transferred to the Behavioral Analysis Unit in 2004, the FBI said.

In 2006, he was promoted to lead the unit in 2006 and directed the FBI’s response to complex and time sensitive crimes involving acts or threats of violence and terrorism.

He transferred to the Richmond Division in 2008 as the supervisory special agent of the Gangs, Violent Crimes, and Cyber programs and subsequently as the Joint Terrorism Task Force supervisor.

In 2012, he was promoted to assistant special agent in charge and was responsible for all criminal and administrative programs in the division, the press release said.

 

Obama’s Nominee for Civil Rights Post in Justice Department Faces Heated Criticism from Foes

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Obama’s nominee for head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has drawn strong criticism from opponents of the appointment of Debo Adegbile, Fox News reports.

They’ve described the former NAACP lawyer as “radical,” “dangerous” and “outside the mainstream.”

Now he’s being criticized for playing a role in overturning the death sentence of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted in the 1981 killing of a Philadelphia police officer.

Asked about the overturned sentence, Adegbile responded: “It’s important, I think, to understand that in no way does that legal representation, zealously as an advocate, cast any aspersion or look past the grievous loss of Sergeant Faulkner.”

Local, State, Federal Authorities Increasingly Using Drones to Spy on Americans

 

Stock Photo

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies are increasingly using drones to spy domestically, the Washington Post reports, citing newly released documents.

The agencies are borrowing drones from Border Patrol in what could become more commonplace in the future, the Post wrote.

CBP has the largest domestic drone fleet and flew about 700 spying missions from 2010 to 2013, according to flight logs.

The agencies most involved borrowing the unmanned aircraft are the DEA, Coast Guard and immigration officials.

The aircraft has been used to search for drugs, meth labs and missing people.

Civil libertarians worry that the aircraft could mean ubiquitous surveillance of Americans on private property, the Post wrote.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST


FBI Director Comey Makes Terrorism, Sequestration His Top Priorities in 2014

 

James Comey

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

FBI Director James Comey said the agency’s priorities this year are combating terrorism and dealing with deep budget cuts, ABC 33/40 reports.

“One of the first challenges I’ve faced as FBI director was the impact of budget sequestration on the bureau,” Comey said during a visit to Birmingham.

Budget cuts have left the FBI with fewer resources and agents.

“The first promise that we have made to the American people is that we will do everything in our power to keep the American people safe from terrorist attacks. That’s our number one priority,” said Comey.

Comey said those efforts may be compromised by deeper cuts and said he and Congress must work on a compromise.

“I’m optimistic we are on the cusp of a budget agreement that will allow the FBI to start hiring again and avoid the devastating furloughs we were facing,” Comey said.