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Archive for April, 2015

DEA, Justice Department Secretly Tracked Phone Calls of Americans

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA and Justice Department have been secretly amassing logs of nearly all international phone calls that originated from the U.S., the USA Today reports.

The collection of billions of calls came nearly a decade before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The government has tracked calls to as many as 116 countries, including Canada, Mexico and most of South America.

The records helped investigators track the distribution networks of drug cartels.

According to the USA Today,

The now-discontinued operation, carried out by the DEA’s intelligence arm, was the government’s first known effort to gather data on Americans in bulk, sweeping up records of telephone calls made by millions of U.S. citizens regardless of whether they were suspected of a crime. It was a model for the massive phone surveillance system the NSA launched to identify terrorists after the Sept. 11 attacks.

That dragnet drew sharp criticism that the government had intruded too deeply into Americans’ privacy after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked it to the news media two years ago.

Other Stories of Interest

 

 

FBI to Offer $300K Reward for Information on 1995 Train Derailment

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI plans to offer a $300,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect who caused the derailment of an Amtrak passenger train in 1995, The Arizona Republic reports.

The derailment about 70 miles southwest of Phoenix caused the death of one Amtrak employee and the injury of more than 100 others on Oct. 9, 1995.

The tracks were ripped out and sabotaged.

Authorities believe the suspect may be familiar with the track because of the ability to know how to avoid signaling a break in the lines.

The train came off the tracks and plunged off a railroad bridge.

The FBI plans to announce the reward at 9 a.m. Friday at the bureau’s Phoenix field office.

Former Head of FBI’s Knoxville Office Sues Bureau, Justice Department

Richard Lambert

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The former chief of the Knoxville FBI office is suing the bureau and the Justice Department for $2.5 million, saying he was falsely accused of violating the law for accepting a position as the senior counterintelligence officer for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence Oak Ridge field office, The Knoxville News Sentinel reports. 

Richard Lambert, a 24-year veteran of the FBI and former special agent in charge of the Knoxville office, claims that his office was raided and false rumors were spread about him.

“Due to the notoriety and stigma surrounding defendants’ erroneous legal opinion and its plain implication that he is a federal felon, Mr. Lambert is currently unemployed and unemployable,” Lambert wrote in the lawsuit.

ORNL spokesman David Keim declined to comment Monday.

At issue is whether Lambert violated a law that “makes it a crime for a former government worker to ‘communicate’ with his or her former co-workers for one year after leaving his or her post ‘with the intent to influence official action,'” the Sentinel wrote.

Lambert was also a key FBI  investigator for a while in the anthrax mailings after 9/11.  He was one of the investigators who strongly believed that scientist Steven Hatfill was behind the mailings. Hatfill successfully sued the government for trying to pin the mailings on him, and leaking information about the case to the press.

Eventually, the FBI decided Hatfill was not the guy, and investigators turned their attention on scientist Bruce Edwards Ivins, who committed suicide before he could be charged.

 

Former Top-Ranking Federal Prosecutor Leaves Job for Private Law Firm

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A federal prosecutor who once was the third highest-ranking official in the Justice Department’s fraud section is headed to the private sector.

The New York Times reports that James Koukios is joining private law firm, Morrison & Forester.

He was named a partner in the firm’s security litigation and white-collar criminal defense group, The Times wrote.

In other words, Koukois will help defend the people he once tried to prosecute.

Koukois’ last day is Friday.

Other Stories of Interest


Al Jazeera: Border Patrol Agents Are Out of Control

istock photo

By Mary Turck 
Al Jazeera

On March 20, the Michigan Attorney General’s Public Integrity Unit charged two U.S. Border Patrol agents with theft and misconduct while on duty. The two agents allegedly stole from a home while executing an agency-authorized search warrant. The case exemplifies the type of unchecked abuse and corruption that has become so rampant within the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

From 2010 to 2014 CBP agents  shot and killed 28 people. Other charges against CBP agents included drug trafficking, theft, assaults, kidnapping and rape. Investigative reports from multiple sources paint a picture of a law enforcement agency that is out of control. Even worse, most of its victims are people who cannot fight back — undocumented immigrants and refugees with limited or no access to U.S. courts.

Report after report recounts tales of unchecked abuse of power. Agents frequently respond to cross-border rock throwing with deadly force. Sometimes CBP officers step into the path of moving cars to justify shooting the drivers as a “response to deadly force.” The agency has refused to ban either practice, disregarding recommendations from a report that it commissioned. Other kinds of corruption also plague the agency. A 2011 internal study by the CBP found that the agency’s disciplinary system “does not foster timely discipline or exoneration.”

The story of failure traces back to 2001. After 9/11, any legislation to protect U.S. borders sailed through Congress. Need more agents? Done. More money? Done. Lawmakers were eager to support border enforcement. In 2003, they merged the previously understaffed Border Patrol with Customs enforcement and Department of Agriculture inspectors to create the CBP. The new agency now has more than 60,000 employees, a $12.4 billion annual budget and a reputation for corruption and abuse. On average, at least one agent is arrested daily for misconduct, according to Politico Magazine’s Garrett M. Graff.

What happened was predictable. But no one bothered to consult law enforcement experts. Effective law enforcement requires high standards, careful screening of candidates for criminal backgrounds and for psychological fitness, and intensive training by experienced officers. The rush to fill a lot of vacant positions meant inadequate screening and skimping on training.

To read more click here. 

House Committee Calls for Investigation of Secret Service Leak

secret service photo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A House committee wants the Obama administration to investigate Secret Service employees who circulated personnel information that showed the panel’s chairman was denied a job as an agent, The Washington Post reports. 

The committee that oversees the Secret Service discovered last week that unflattering information about Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, was circulated at the agency’s headquarters.

Chaffetz told the Post in an interview that he was denied a job for the Secret Service in a Wester field office around 2003.

Chaffetz said it was “disconcerting to say the least” that he was the butt of a joke.

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson agreed an investigation is warranted.

“If and to the extent the matters reflected in this report are accurate, then the United States Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security owe the member of Congress an apology,” Johnson said. He added: “If true, those responsible should be held accountable.”

 

Three FBI Agents Injured After Suspect Shot at Drug Store in Georgia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Three FBI agents were injured after one of them shot a suspect at a CVS drug store in Forsyth, Ga.

The agents are recovering from non-life-threatening injuries following the incident Saturday.

Details are still murky, but the Forsyth News reports that the agents were part of a task force.

At some point, a suspect was shot before a car slammed into the agents’ vehicle.

The agents and the suspect were taken to the hospital.

The condition of the suspect was not immediately clear Monday morning.

FBI Agents Must Pass Fitness Test for First Time in 16 Years

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is requiring agents to pass a fitness test for the first time in 16 years.

“The lives of your colleagues and those you protect may well depend upon your ability to run, fight and shoot, no matter what job you hold,” James B. Comey, the FBI director, said in October in an internal memo to agents, reported by Economic Times. 

The fitness tests were launched by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

Before the Sept .11 attack, agents had more time to stay fit.

The Economic Times wrote:

The tests are a response to concerns throughout the bureau about how its transformation after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, has put more stress on the agents and given them less time for fitness.

After the attacks, many agents who were accustomed to working normal hours and had spent their entire careers investigating crimes like gang violence or drugs – work that took them into the field to make arrests – began working 20-hour days as the FBI changed its primary mission to fighting terrorism.

Around the same time, the bureau drastically expanded its efforts in two areas that emphasized long desk hours: cybersecurity and intelligence. Many agents were sent to Iraq and Afghanistan. The increased demands manifested themselves in different ways. Some agents put on weight, while some suffered from anxiety and depression.