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Archive for September, 2014

LA Times Editorial: Border Patrol Must Take Deadly Shootings More Seriously

By Los Angeles Times
Editorial Board

The new head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s internal affairs office made a troubling assertion late last week. Since 2004, he said, the agency has apparently taken no disciplinary action against any of its agents who have used deadly force.

That follows a report released in February by the nonprofit Police Executive Research Forum, which reviewed 67 shooting incidents by Border Patrol agents from January 2010 to October 2012, 19 of which were fatal, and accused the agency of violating accepted police practices and a “lack of diligence” in investigating agents’ actions.

The American Immigration Council reported in May that of 809 abuse complaints (a broader category) filed from 2009 to 2012, 40% remained unresolved, and in the resolved cases, only 3% found fault with an agent’s actions. Comparative statistics are hard to come by, but a study of 2002 data found that about 8% of complaints against civilian police officers were sustained.

The backlog of cases and the possibility that the agency has been unwilling to discipline its officers led Department of Homeland Security officials in June to replace the internal affairs director, James F. Tomsheck, with an outsider, former L.A. police officer and FBI Deputy Assistant Director Mark Morgan. It was Morgan who told reporters he had yet to find records of disciplinary actions against agents in deadly force cases. While it’s possible that there was no fault to be found, that seems highly unlikely.

It is clear that the agency must respond more quickly to complaints and must be willing to assess the behavior of its employees fairly and objectively when they use their weapons. In one 2012 case, a Border Patrol agent fired across the border into Nogales, Mexico, killing 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez; the boy, who the Border Patrol says may have been throwing rocks, was struck in the back by at least eight bullets. His family says he was merely walking home after playing basketball. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a wrongful death suit on behalf of the family, but so far it has been unsuccessful in getting the agency to publicly identify the officer involved.

To read more click here.

 

Other Stories of Interest

 

FBI’s Facial Recognition System Reaches ‘Full Operational Capability,’ Ready to Use

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI’s new facial recognition system is now fully operational, the bureau announced Monday.

The Next Generation Identification System also will replace the FBI’s fingerprint identification system.

“The IPS facial recognition service will provide the nation’s law enforcement community with an investigative tool that provides an image-searching capability of photographs associated with criminal identities,” the FBI said in a press release. “This effort is a significant step forward for the criminal justice community in utilizing biometrics as an investigative enabler.”

The system has been criticized by civil rights groups who claim the people without criminal records are going to be turned into suspects.

The civil liberties group, Electronic Frontier Foundation, argues the system is an invasion of privacy.

“Law enforcement agencies, probation and parole officers, and other criminal justice entities will also greatly improve their effectiveness by being advised of subsequent criminal activity of persons under investigation or supervision,” EFF said in a press release. “The IPS [Interstate Photo System] facial recognition service will provide the nation’s law enforcement community with an investigative tool that provides an image-searching capability of photographs associated with criminal identities.”

FBI’s Washington Field Office Focuses on Returning U.S. Hostages Held by Terrorists

Andrew McCabe/fbi photo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

American journalist Theo Curtis said he might not be alive if not for the FBI.

FBI agents in the Washington D.C. field office had been working on getting Curtis released from Syria, where he had been held by an Islamist group, the Washington Post reports.

The FBI “deserves some credit for what it did for me,” Curtis said in an interview.

The field office is handling the investigation into the kidnapping and killing of Americans by the Islamic State.

Leading the office is Andrew G. McGabe, who the Washington Post described as a “rising star” who could be the next deputy director after the retirement of Mark F. Giuliano.

“It’s been an intense couple of years,” McCabe says.

Judge: Jill Kelly May Press Forward with Lawsuit Against FBI Over Invasion of Privacy

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Jill Kelley may continue pursuing her lawsuit against the FBI over the scandal involving former CIA Director David Patraeus, a judge ruled Monday.

The New York Daily News reports that U.S. District Judge Amy Berman declined to dismiss a case by Kelly, who claims the FBI and Justice Department violated her privacy by leaking personal information about her to the media.

The case came to light when Kelly told the FBI in 2012 that she had been receiving harassing emails, which turned out to be from Paula Broadwell, who was having an affair with Patraeus.

Soon after, the news media obtained personal information about Kelley.

The judge’s decision, however, does not touch the merits of the case.

 

FBI Investigates Missouri Officer’s Use of Stun Gun After Teen Hospitalized in Critical Condition

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is investigating a Missouri police officer’s use of a stun gun to subdue a 17-year-old during a traffic stop.

The Associated Press reports that the stun gun left Bryce Masters in critical condition.

The incident happened in the suburban Kansas City community of Independence.

Police said the officer resorted to using stun gun because the teen was physically resisting.

The officer is on administrative leave pending an investigation.

Maters’ family was seeking a federal probe.

The FBI’s Kansas City field office is handling.

Justice Department Launches Plan to Identify Radicals with U.S. Passports As ISIS Threat Grows

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department opened a new front on the war against radicals.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. announced plans to identify radicals with U.S. passports.

The idea is to identify Americans before they travel abroad.

“We have established processes for detecting American extremists who attempt to join terror groups abroad,” Holder said.

Holder has said that dozens of Americans are joining terrorists in Syria.

“In the face of a threat so grave, we cannot afford to be passive,” he said in Oslo two months ago.

Attorneys for Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect Tsarnaev Deny Impersonating FBI Employees

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Prosecutors are accusing the defense lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev of posing as FBI employees to investigate their client’s background in Russia, the Boston Globe reports.

“Let us be clear: At no time have members of the defense team misrepresented themselves or lied about their work,” Tsarnaev’s lawyers wrote in papers filed Monday in US District Court.

Calling the allegations “false and facially preposterous, ” the lawyers charged that prosecutors had made an “absurd charge.”

Russian authorities recently told the U.S. government that Tsarnaev’s defense team traveled to Russia to investigate the case and falsely claimed they were FBI employees.

“While conducting interviews in Russia, the members of the defense team reportedly refused to produce documents confirming their legal status and identified themselves as employees of the FBI,” prosecutors wrote. “As a result, the Russian government . . . expelled them.”

A New FBI Show Is Coming to Prime-Time TV This Season on CBS

By Alan Stamm
ticklethewire.com

Josh Dunhamel is no Efrem Zimbalist Jr., and his new TV show is unlike “The F.B.I.”

The 2014 version is “Battle Creek,” a drama-comedy set in that Michigan city and picked up by CBS for at least 13 episodes. No date is announced for its “coming soon” mid-season debut.

Dunhamel plays Special Agent Milt Chamberlain, sent to open a field office in the economically depressed Midwestern city of 52,000.

“It’s a throwback old-school cop show,” Dunhamel tells Lauren Moraski of CBS News. “I play an FBI agent who’s setting up a satellite office in Battle Creek.

“We work together with some of the local detectives in this underfunded run-down department. So my character has all the resources in the world and this poor police department has almost nothing. So it’s a contrast between local law enforcement and the FBI. It’s funny, but it’s also a serious procedural at the same time.”

His main co-star is Dean Winters as local Det. Russ Agnew. They spar as a mismatched pair, much as Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy do in “The Heat,” a 2013 comedy film. And as Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy do in “48Hrs.” (1982) and its 1990 sequel. Similarly, Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell played “Tango & Cash” on the big screen in 1969. Hey, no one pitches this as a breakthrough concept.

Here’s how CBS promotes the new series, shot in Los Angeles:

“As Russ and Milt work long hours together, the question is: Will it be Milt’s charm and endless supply of high-end resources or Russ’ old-fashioned cynicism, guilt and deception that prove to be the keys to catching the bad guys in his beloved hometown?

The executive producer is Vince Gilligan, who produced “Breaking Bad,” which goes a long way toward explaining why USAToday this summer called it “one of next season’s most-anticipated new series.”

Gilligan says he’s “never actually been to Battle Creek,” but likes the name and will portray it as “a city of underdogs.”

 

Here’s a partial list of some of other FBI shows

  • “The F.B.I.,” 1965-74:  Insp. Lewis Erskine (Zimbalist) and several agents handled cases based on real FBI files. Erskine reported to Arthur Ward (Phillip Abbott), assistant to the director. The technical adviser was W. Mark Felt, an associate director of the bureau later unmasked as Watergate informant “Deep Throat.” It ran for 241 episodes.
  • “Mancuso, F.B.I.” 1989-90:  Robert Loggia starred on NBC as Nick Mancuso, a bureau veteran assigned to headquarters, where superiors saw him as a maverick with little regard for agency rules and procedures. Low ratings limited it to one season and prime-time summer reruns in 1993.
  • “The FBI Files,” 1998-2006: This 120-episode documentary series ran on the Discovery Channel cable network, using reenactments and interviews with agents and forensic scientists to dramatize real cases.