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Archive for June, 2014

FBI’s Phoenix Office to Handle Criminal Investigation of VA Hospital Following Serious Allegations

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI’s Phoenix office is handling the criminal investigation of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Arizona Republic reports.

FBI Director James Comey said the Phoenix office is handling the case because the allegations began at the VA in Phoenix.

At least 18 Arizona veterans waiting for care in the Phoenix VA Health Care System have died. The staff also is accused of manipulating patient-wait times to receive financial bonuses.

Today the Senate is considering whether to support legislation that would allow veterans to seek care outside of the VA system.

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said in a statement that they are taking the matter seriously.

“To restore veterans’ trust and confidence in the VA, individual employees must be held accountable. The FBI’s investigation is a positive signal; but, wherever the evidence shows that crimes have been committed, they must follow through and prosecute those responsible to the fullest extent of the law.”

Florida Prosecutors Ask Appeals Court to Reinstate Murder Charge Against Ex-FBI Agent Connolly

Whitey Bulger

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Disgraced FBI Agent John J. Connolly Jr., whose murder conviction was overturned by a Florida state court panel two weeks ago, won’t be released from prison – at least not yet.

Boston’s NPR station, WBUR, reports that Florida’s attorney general is urging the court to reconsider reinstating charges against Connolly, who is accused of participating in a plot to kill a Florida businessman in 1982 at the urging of Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger.

The three-judge appellate panel tossed out the murder conviction, citing a legal technicality.

NPR reports that Connolly won’t be released from prison until the court decides on Florida’s request.

Connolly is serving a 40-year sentence that began in 2011.

Border Patrol Station in Texas Overwhelmed by Central American Migrants

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Throngs of Central American women and children are forced to stay in squalid, cramped conditions at a Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas, the Washington Post reports.

Video obtained by the Washington Post shows children sleeping on concrete floors in sweltering heat for days. The migrants are fed tacos and bologna sandwiches and the sick are separated by strips of yellow police tape. They use portable toilets and have no showers.

After seeing the conditions, President Obama declared a “humanitarian crisis.”

Each day, agents capture hundreds of Central American migrants, some of whom travel in groups as large as 250 people.

Many of them are fleeing violence and poverty.

TSA Officers Killed in Line off Duty to Receive Same Death Benefits As Other Federal Law Enforcement Officers

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

It’s not often that a TSA officer dies in the line of duty.

In fact, TSA Officer Gerardo Hernandez, 39, became the first to die on Nov. 1 at Los Angeles International Airport.

But Westside Today reports that the House Appropriations Committee this week approved a legislative amendment that would provide the same death benefits to Hernandez’s family that are given to family members of other federal law enforcement officers killed on the line of duty.

The benefits will be available to future TSA officers killed in the line of duty.

“These benefits will be a great help to his wife and the couple’s young children,” said Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Los Angeles. “Not only was today’s vote an important moment for the Hernandez family, I also believe it sends a powerful message to our nation’s homeland security personnel that we value their service and honor their sacrifices.”

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

FBI Launches Criminal Investigation of Veterans Affairs Department As Scandal Deepens

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has opened a criminal investigation into widespread problems at the Veterans Affairs Department, CNN reports.

Among other things, agents are examining the long wait lines and whether paperwork was falsified to make delays appear shorter.

“At the department’s direction, the FBI has instructed agents in its Phoenix office to conduct an investigation into the allegations related to the VA. Federal prosecutors will be working with these investigators to determine whether there is a basis for criminal charges.”

The scandal has already led to the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki last month.

Managers in Phoenix are accused of using secret waiting lists to disguise the length of time it took to get appointments, CNN wrote.

Former FBI Agent Writes Chilling Book About Long Search for Unabomber Ted Kaczynski

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

When FBI agents raided the Montana cabin of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski in April 1996, they found a bomb ready to use, according to the author of a book on the case.

KCRA interviewed former FBI Agent Terry Turchie, who reveals chilling new details in a book, “How the FBI Broke Its Own Rules to Capture the Terrorist Ted Kaczynski.”

“It’s just a matter of time before he was going to mail another bomb and kill again,” said Terry Turchie, assistant special agent in charge of the task force that tracked down Kaczynski.

The task force took four years to find Kaczynski living in a cabin.

“Ted Kaczynski had a bomb under his bed, wrapped and ready to mail,” Turchie said.

Immigrant Rights Groups: Border Patrol Mistreating Children in Documented Cases of Abuse

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Border Patrol agents are accused of mistreating children in 116 reported cases of abuse, according to a compliant filed by Customs and Border Protection.

CNN reports that the cases range from sexual abuse to holding young undocumented immigrants in cramped, dirty condition, CNN reports.

The cases span several years.

“Given these longstanding problems, and in light of the rising number of unaccompanied children seeking relief from dangerous conditions in their home countries, the need for broad and lasting agency reforms is clear,” the complaint says.

A CBP spokesman said the agency takes “extraordinary measures” to keep children safe.

“Mistreatment or misconduct is not tolerated,” he added.

The complaint was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and four immigrant-rights groups.

TSA Perplexed That So Many Educated Travelers Try to Bring Guns onto Airplanes

tsa.gov

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The TSA can’t understand why seemingly educated people are trying to bring guns onto airplanes.

The Washington Post reports that the federal agency has been alarmed at the increase in the number of guns detected at checkpoints nationwide.

In 2013, the TSA detected 1,800 firearms, compared to 1,500 in 2012 and 1,300 in 2011. The TSA is on pace for 1,800 guns this year.
Befuddled that otherwise responsible adults would bring a gun into an airport, the TSA held a press conference.

“This many years after the September 11th attacks, you’d think people would know the rules. It’d be natural,” said Lisa Farbstein, a TSA spokeswoman. “They’re telling us they forget. You need to know where your firearm is.”