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Archive for June 22nd, 2015

FBI, Marshals Service Bestowed ‘Black Hole Award’ for Refusing to Disclose Records

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

It’s not an award to celebrate.

The Utah Headlines Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists bestowed the Black Hole Award to the U.S. Marshals Service and the FBI.

The Deseret News published a letter to the Attorney General from the journalist group.

The group explained that the agencies won the award for refusing to disclose any information about the April 21, 2014, shooting at a federal courthouse in Salt Lake City.

The shooting by a U.S. marshal killed defendant Siale Angilau, and the case was investigated by the FBI.

“Those few facts and that the Department of Justice elected not to prosecute the marshal comprise what we know,” the group wrote. “No one at the Marshals Service or the FBI will answer more questions. The Marshals Service has denied multiple requests made for documents under the Freedom of Information Act. A request to the FBI has been pending for a year.”

Is Border Patrol’s Drone Program Really Worth the Money?

Manned aircraft was found to be far more effective and less costly.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Is the Border Patrol’s use of drone worth the money?

It’s a question raised and explored by a lengthy story in the Arizona Republic. 

The newspaper found that drones helped nab less than 3% of the drugs seized by agent over the past two fiscal years.

By comparison, look at the success rate of manned aircrafts: More than 99% of weapons, cash and meth seizures were by manned aircraft.

But to CBP, the drug seizures “are not an appropriate performance measure,” spokesman Carlos Lazo said, adding that the drones “detect illegal cross-border activity … on a daily basis.”

The drone program cost taxpayers $600 million, a figure that is on the rise.

The newspaper cites Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General to back up its assertion that the drones are too expensive.

The Arizona Republic concluded that “manned aircraft or other, less expensive drones could provide broader coverage than the Predator Bs have delivered, at a significantly lower cost.”

Judge: Homeland Security violated FOIA by Refusing to Respond to Request for Records

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Homeland Security Department violated the Freedom of Information Act by refusing to disclose records about the telephone costs for immigrant detainees, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Chief Judge Marsha Penchman criticized the department for essentially ignoring a request from Prison Legal News, the Associated Press reports.

The judge said the department failed to respond within the required 20 days and even ignored a second request.

Under President Obama, federal agencies have been stubborn and reluctant to disclose records unless they are sued.

Las Cruces Sun-News: Border Patrol Should Not Police Itself After So Many Fatal Shootings

By Editorial Board
Las Cruces Sun-News

Two years ago, a scathing independent report by law enforcement experts found that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency had failed to fully investigate all 67 uses of deadly force, including 19 killings, by its agents from January 2010 through October 2012, most occurring along the southwest border with Mexico.

That report, which accused the agency of a “lack of diligence” in its investigations, put federal officials on the defensive and sparked an internal review. But when the review was finally completed last month, it absolved virtually all the agents in virtually all the shootings. Oral reprimands were apparently issued to two agents, and one case remains open; other than that, no discipline was meted out.

Is that reasonable? An agent who killed an unarmed 15-year-old Mexican boy by shooting him in the face after a rock-throwing incident near El Paso, Texas, was cleared. So was an agent who killed a rock-throwing 17-year-old near Nogales, Ariz.

It’s hard to know whether the agency’s decisions were reasonable. Were it not for leaks to journalists, little of this would even be known, because the Customs and Border Protection agency has tried to keep the report’s findings and the subsequent reviews under wraps. The initial report was released only after the Los Angeles Times reported on its existence. And the internal reviews ended a month ago, yet that fact just came to light — and there are still few details available. That opacity is unacceptable in an open society. How can the public assess government actions if the details are hidden? How are Americans to determine whether justice is served when there is no public accounting?

The Border Patrol is in essence a federal police force, and its use of deadly force should be viewed through a similar prism. Border agents, like local police officers, often find themselves in dangerous situations, and occasionally must use lethal force to protect themselves and the public. But that doesn’t mean society owes them limitless deference or that their actions should be considered beyond question.

To read more click here. 

Ex-Secret Service Agent Pleads Guilty to Stealing 820K from Silk Road Seizure

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former Secret Service agent has pleaded guilty to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bitcoin during an investigation of Silk Road, the Examiner.com reports. 

The former agent, Shaun W. Bridges, was accused of skimming $820,000 from the Silk Road seizure and was charged.

The computer crime expert was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of narcotics trafficking, computer hacking, running a criminal enterprise and money laundering.

Authorities said Bridges transferred about 20,000 bitcoin from the Silk Road accounts.

DEA Agent Carl Force also is accused of stealing thousands of bitcoins during the road.

Other Stories of Interest

 

FBI Investigates Website Belonging to Accused Charleston Shooter

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is investigating a website that appears to belong to Dylan Roof, the 21-year-old white man accused of opening fire inside a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, killing nine people.

The website, http://lastrhodesian.com/, includes fake photos of dead people and a racist manifesto that sounds like the ramblings of a paranoid lunatic. Time wrote that the website refers to “the majority-black, white-run nation that existed in what is now Zimbabwe.”

According to the manifesto, the case of Trayvon Martin, the black teen shot and killed by George Zimmerman, “truly awakened me.”

The writer claimed black-on-white crime was being ignored by the media.

“I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country. […] someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.”