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Archive for May, 2014

FBI Agents to Begin Recording Interrogations After Long Policy Against It

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Overturning an FBI policy that is as old as the bureau, the Justice Department is now requiring the FBI in most cases to make audio or video recordings while interrogating suspects in custody, the Arizona Republic reports.

Since the FBI’s creation in 1908, agents have been barred from making audio recordings of suspects without special permission.

“This policy establishes a presumption that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the United States Marshals Service (USMS) will electronically record statements made by individuals in their custody,” says the memo from James M. Cole, deputy attorney general, to all federal prosecutors and criminal chiefs.

“This policy also encourages agents and prosecutors to consider electronic recording in investigative or other circumstances where the presumption does not apply,” such as in the questioning of witnesses.

The Abrupt and Fearless Character of FBI Special Agent Charles Winstead

By Larry Wack
Retired FBI agent

The role of FBI special agent, Charles B. Winstead in the shooting and killing of John Dillinger is widely known today. The 1934 incident outside the Biograph Theater in Chicago catapulted Director J. Edgar Hoover and the Bureau to the front pages during the “war on crime” and brought on a continuous wave of publicity for generations to come.1 Over the decades, crime enthusiasts would label Winstead and others chosen of that era as “Hoover’s hired guns.”

Winstead’s personnel file, recently obtained from the FBI under the Freedom Of Information Act, paints a colorful portrait of a man seemingly in contradiction to the polished lawyers and accountants hired at the time by the Bureau. Some might believe he should have been born decades earlier than the 1890s, and walked the dusty streets of places like Tombstone instead of the cement sidewalks of twentieth century Los Angeles, Chicago and surrounding.

Unlike the tall, mysterious character played by actor Stephen Lang in the movie, “Public Enemies,” when Winstead entered the Bureau in 1926 he was only five feet, seven inches tall, weighing one hundred thirty pounds. When he left the Bureau in 1942, he weighed the same. In reality, there was nothing mysterious about “Charlie” Winstead.

1 For purposes here, “FBI” & “the Bureau” are synonymous. In order not to confuse readers with the name changes that occurred, we use “FBI” overall during the early years but recognize that the name did not become official until 1935.

For Winstead, the label of “hired gun” isn’t applicable if taken literally. Unlike the hiring of other legendary agents during the early 1930s, Winstead’s file reveals nothing indicating he was originally recruited in 1926 due to his abilities with a handgun. In fact, there’s no mention in his background investigation regarding his handling of weapons, one way or the other.

Education wise, he only finished the 8th grade and for a few short years, attended the Sherman, Texas School for boys and the Sherman Business School. He held no formal educational degrees of any sort unlike the many lawyers and accountants hired at the time. More importantly for the Bureau during those early days is that his background revealed his years of investigative experience with the U. S. Attorney’s Office in El Paso, Texas. With that position came his extensive knowledge of federal law, writing indictments, court procedures, and rules of evidence. Everyone interviewed for his background praised Winstead’s work ethics and his moral character. One Bureau official who knew him agreed he could pass a bar exam whenever he wanted.

Read more »

Watch Trailer for Upcoming Film, ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service,” Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Firth

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The upcoming film, “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” is about an international intelligence agency that recruits a wayward youth played by Taron Egerton.

The film also stars Colin Firth, Michael Caine and Samuel L. Jackson.

The trailer was released Tuesday.

FBI Director: Don’t Let Marijuana Stop You from Applying to Bureau Jobs

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

It seems some of the FBI’s best hacker recruits also like to smoke marijuana.

The Washington Times reports that the FBI says its no-tolerance pot policy is hurting the bureau’s ability to recruit the best and brightest hackers.

“I have to hire a great work force to compete with those cyber criminals, and some of those kids want to smoke weed on the way to the interview,” FBI Director James Comey told the White Collar Crime Institute.

To handle growing concerns over cybersecurity, Congress authorized the hiring of 2,000 recruits this year, most of whom will work on cyber crimes.

The FBI is “grappling with the question right now” of how to change its marijuana policies, which prohibit applicants who have smoked pot in the past three years.

At a recent conference, an attendee said his friend didn’t apply because of the policy.

“He should go ahead and apply,” despite the marijuana use, Mr. Comey said.

Justice Department to Reveal Secret Memo Justifying Drone Strikes Against Americans

istock photo

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

When is the government authorized to use drones to kill U.S. Citizens overseas?

The Justice Department, which has resisted the release of the information, said Tuesday it won’t block the release of a secret drone memo, the USA Today reports.

That decision was made easier because the memo’s author, former Justice Department official David Barron, has been nominated to serve on a federal appeals court bench in Boston.

“The … opinions written or signed by Mr. Barron helped form the purported legal foundation for a large-scale killing program that has resulted in, as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) stated last year, as many as 4,700 deaths by drone attacks, including the deaths of four American citizens,” the ACLU said in a Tuesday letter to senators urging them to review the documents.

Border Patrol Agents Imprisoned for Killing Unarmed Drug Smuggler Make Controversial Endorsements


Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Most politicians don’t boast about endorsements from felons.

That’s not the case for Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Texas, who featured in a commercial the endorsements of two former Border Patrol agents who were sent to prison for killing an unarmed drug smuggler, the Dallas Morning News reports.

Conservatives have largely opposed the prosecution of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, who were accused of also trying to cover up the shooting and hide evidence.

Hall’s opponent John Ratcliffe is loosely tied to the case because a law partner, Johnny Sutton, was the U.S. attorney who helped convict Ramos and Campean.

“We were U.S. Border Patrol Agents assigned to protect the Texas/Mexico border, but Johnny Sutton of the U.S. Attorney’s office saw it differently,” Ramos said in a video released Tuesday afternoon by the Hall campaign.

“We were sentenced to 11 and 12 years in prison for doing our jobs,” Compean says. “Congressman Ralph Hall stood up for us in our time of need.”

Cost Overruns, Delays May Kill $3 Billion Project to Build New Homeland Security Headquarters

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The news keeps getting worse for a massive new headquarters for Homeland Security in Washington.

The Washington Post reports that the project is now 11 years behind schedule, $1.5 billion over budget and may never be finished.

The call for a new, centralized headquarters came in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, supported by President George W. Bush.

But plans of razing 50 historic buildings and constructing a new headquarters on the grounds of St. Elizabeth, a vacant insane asylum, have been slowed by cost overruns and other problems.

The original budget of $3 billion is expected to reach $4.5 billion, and the completion date has been moved back to 2026.

Now officials familiar with the project say it may never get completed.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

 

Justice Department Criminally Charges Five Chinese Military Officials with Hacking

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department has charged five Chinese military officials with cyber-espionage after allegedly hacking into American companies’ computers in an attempt to steal trade secrets.

BBC reports that the army officials are accused of stealing trade secrets and internal documents from five U.S. companies and a labor union.

China quickly denied the charges, saying the accusations threaten to sour relations between the two countries.

Attorney General Eric Holder said the charges were the first against “known state actors for infiltrating U.S. commercial targets by cyber means.”

The victims have been identified as Westinghouse Electric, US Steel, Alcoa Inc, Allegheny Technologies, SolarWorld and the US Steelworkers Union.

“The alleged hacking appears to have been conducted for no reason other than to advantage state-owned companies and other interests in China, at the expense of businesses here in the United States,” Holder said.