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Archive for June, 2015

Cleveland.com Editorial: TSA Gives Little Reason for Confidence in Security

By Editorial Board 
Cleveland.com

At airports around the country, including Cleveland Hopkins International, passengers entering the security wringer run by the Transportation Security Administration have been entertained by a display of some of the instruments of mayhem that agents have taken from people over the TSA’s 14-year history.

Earlier this year, the TSA proudly released a year-end report stating that during 2014 it had confiscated 2,212 firearms – most of which were loaded – after screening more than 653 million passengers.

The display board and statistics might have made everyone feel as though the lines, pat-downs, shoes-in-the-basket and full-body scanners were worth it, except for one other statistic that was revealed recently:

Ninety-six.

That’s the percentage of times Department of Homeland Security operatives managed to sneak weapons, bombs and other contraband past airport security in a test of TSA effectiveness.

ABC News disclosed the information June 1 from a leaked report, showing that a covert DHS team had beaten security screening 67 of 70 times.

When confronted with this evidence of colossal failure, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson called for more evaluations and training. He expressed continuing confidence in the TSA workforce and said test results “never look good out of context.” Then he reassigned acting TSA administrator Melvin Carraway.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest reacted by trying to blame Senate Republicans for dragging their feet in confirming Coast Guard Vice Admiral Peter Neffenger as TSA head. After the prior TSA administrator announced his departure last October, President Barack Obama nominated Neffenger in late April.

TSA Inspector General John Roth, who oversaw the covert test, reacted by telling the Senate Homeland Security Committee that he wasinvestigating the source of the leak.

Those responses don’t fill us with confidence.

To read more click here.

Other Stories of Interest


FBI Task Force Cracks Down on 2 Gangs in Milwaukee

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI teamed up with police to crack down on gang activity in Milwaukee, resulting in eight search warrants and more than a dozen arrests beginning just after dawn Tuesday.

The MPD-FBI Gang Task Force recovered 10 guns, drugs and tens of thousands of dollars in alleged drug money, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports. 

By Tuesday night, authorities were still searching for four men.

The focus of the task force was ATK, or Atkinson Ave., and HPT, or Hustlers, Pimps and Thugs.

“The hope is to significantly impact these two violent street gangs, to disrupt their operations, so we can restore some order to the neighborhoods where they operate,” said Capt. Thomas Stigler of the Milwaukee Police Department.

Former U.S. House Speaker Hastert Pleads Not Guilty in Awkward Court Appearance

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges involving hush money payments and lying to federal agents, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The Tribune wrote that Hastert looked “extremely uncomfortable.”

“As the judge left the bench and Hastert’s high-powered attorneys conferred with prosecutors, Hastert, once one of Illinois’ most prominent politicians, remained by himself near the lectern, his shoulders hunched, arms hanging limp at his sides. After a moment, he turned toward the gallery where dozens of reporters and spectators were filing out and pursed his lips.”

When the brief hearing was over, the 73-year-old Republican was silent as he passed throngs of reporters and flashing cameras.

Hastert is accused of paying $3.5 million to keep quiet wrongdoing during his days as a high school teacher and wrestling coach.

Hastert’s bank withdrawals caught the attention of authorities.

Investigation Opens to Find Leak of Alarming Study about Airport Security

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

It was an alarming discovery: An undercover operation found that investigators could slip through airport security with weapons and phony bombs more than 95% of the time, the Washington Post reports.

But that information, which quickly spread nationwide, is considered “classified,” so whoever leaked it could face termination or even jail time.

The inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security said he is investigating.

“We have started an investigation to determine where the leak was,” Inspector General John Roth told the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

After the reports became public, acting TSA Administrator Melvin Carraway was forced from the job, the Post wrote.

Another Secret Service Lapse: New Hires Haven’t Completed Security Clearance Process

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

In its rush to hire new Secret Service officers to handle serious security lapses, the agency placed several dozen new people in sensitive positions, even though they had not completed the required national security clearance process, the Washington Post reports, citing two unnamed government sources.

Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy told at least one Congressman about the problem and pledged to fix the issue.

Part of the problem is an “administrative backlog” in issuing security clearances, the Post wrote.

“The director has taken immediate steps to accelerate the top-secret adjudication process and has allocated additional resources to ensure that this is completed as quickly as possible,” Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary said Tuesday.

Other Stories of Interest


Stejskal: FBI’s Use of ‘Unmarked Planes’ Is Nothing New, Not to Mention Legal

Greg Stejskal served as an FBI agent for 31 years and retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office.

Greg Stejskal

 
By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

The Associated Press reported about a week ago that the FBI was using “unmarked planes” to conduct surveillances and other activities.This is not breaking news.

The FBI since at least the 70s has used “unmarked” planes to help conduct surveillances among other things. In the 70s, the FBI began establishing dedicated surveillance squads. These squads were used primarily to conduct surveillances of organized crime subjects, but also utilized in other investigations such as espionage, terrorism and kidnappings.

To keep the surveillance squads and their activities secret, offsite locations (away from FBI offices) were procured using fictitious business fronts, the vehicles used did not look like police cars and were registered to fictitious businesses. (This was necessary in some investigations because police were known to be cooperating with the bad guys.) The agents assigned to the squads wore “street clothes” and were allowed to be lax, by Bureau standards, in their grooming.

It became clear that there were situations where aircraft could be helpful in conducting surveillances. In fact there were situations when surveillances were impossible without the aid of aircraft such as watching a ransom drop-site in the middle of open country. The same procedures were used for the aircraft as were used for FBI vehicles – they were registered to fictitious entities and the pilots did not identify themselves as agents.

The use of “unmarked” aircraft has continued and is considered legitimate and legal investigative tool. If aircraft are used to help monitor wiretaps, etc., as the AP has reported, they do so pursuant to court orders and with the knowledge of the courts.

In the interest of full disclosure, the FBI has also used “unmarked” boats for various surreptitious activities. An “unmarked” yacht was used to entertain some of the subjects in the ABSCAM investigation.

Homeland Security’s Jeh Johnson: Illegal Immigration Drops to Lowest in Decades

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A year after a surge in illegal immigrant children and their families trying to cross the U.S. border, illegal immigration is on pace to be the lowest this year than any year since 1972, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Monday, the Washington Times reports.

Johnson stopped short of saying whether the trend would continue but said he was encouraged.

“The bottom line of all this is, in recent years the total number of those who attempt to illegally cross our southwest border has declined dramatically, while the percentage of those who are apprehended has gone up,” the secretary said at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. “Put simply, it’s now much harder to cross our border illegally and evade capture than it used to be — and people know that.”

During the first eight months of the fiscal year, Border Patrol captured 213,145 immigrants at the border, a decline of 34% from the same point in 2014.

Senator Joins Critics Calling for ATF to Be Rolled into Another Agency

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

At least one U.S. senator says the time has come to end the ATF and absorb it into other law enforcement agencies.

Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming, wrote a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, calling for the ATF to be disbanded if it can’t be adequately reformed.

“As you know, the ATF is one of several federal law enforcement components and has been subject to several recent controversies…Given the ATF’s serious challenges, I believe the Senate should examine these proposals and take action to correct the failures of the ATF,” Enzi wrote.

The senator is among a growing chorus of critics calling for the ATF to be transferred to another agency.

To read the letter, click here. 

Other Stories of Interest