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Archive for August, 2015

Federal Investigation Targets Baseball Clubs That Sign Cuban Defectors

major league baseballBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A federal investigation into the smuggling of Cuban baseball players to the U.S. is targeting MLB team officials, ESPN.com reports. 

Professional baseball has seen a proliferation in Cuban baseball players, many of whom have been skittish about the investigation and have refused to talk to investigators from Homeland Security and the FBI.

The investigation, Operation Safety Squeeze and Operation of Summer, has gone beyond smuggler and handlers to MLB team officials who are suspected of ignoring criminal activity in order to sign highly prized players.

The MLB commissioner’s office has received two subpoenas for internal communications and other documents related to Cuban defectors and their affiliation with baseball teams

“MLB has been informed by federal law enforcement authorities that neither it nor its personnel are the focus of any criminal inquiry. MLB has consistently cooperated – and will continue to cooperate –with the appropriate government authorities to protect our Cuban players from the dangers posed by human smugglers,” said Dan Halem, Major League Baseball’s chief legal officer.

Researcher Sues FBI for Long-Withheld Records About Ex-First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt/Wikimedia

Eleanor Roosevelt/Wikimedia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A lot of secrecy still shrouds the FBI’s past obsession with former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

AllGov.com reports that the FBI has refused to disclose records detailing her trip to the Soviet Union in 1957 and 1958.

Former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover believed Roosevelt was a Communist sympathizer.

Now a researcher with George Washington University is suing the FBI for the records under the Freedom of Information Act.

The files contain “charges against her for suspected Communist activities, threats to her life on the grounds of her disloyalty to the country, close monitoring of her activities and writings, and a record of possible insurrectionary groups that she may have influenced.”

Secret Service Won’t Provide Security Along Bridge During Pope’s Visit

Benjamin Franklin Bridge/Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

When Pope Francis visits Philadelphia next month, the Secret Service won’t be providing protection along the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. 

Local law enforcement have been frustrated with planning for the visit because the Secret Service had not made its intentions clear until recently.

Security planning will be headed by the Delaware River Port Authority, which has not disclosed its plans yet.

But officials said delays and long lines are expected.

“What visitors should expect is some type of law enforcement presence on the bridge to ensure those who wish to cross can do so in a safe and expeditious manner,” the Secret Service said in a statement Friday.

“We don’t have anything to do with security at the Ben Franklin Bridge. Why would we?” Secret Service spokesman Robert Hoback said Friday. “We don’t control the bridge.”

The bridge is expected to be closed to traffic from 10 p.m. Sept. 25 to noon Sept. 28.

Other Stories of Interest

Retiring Special Agent in Charge of Philadelphia FBI Office Fulfilled Parents’ Dreams

Edward Hanko

Edward Hanko

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

All Ed Hanko’s parents wanted was for their son to achieve more than they did.

Hanko did just that, recently finishing a 29-year career with the FBI and retiring as the special agent in charge of the bureau’s Philadelphia field office, The Citizens Voice reports.

His dad was a coal miner. His mom worked in a dress factory,” The Citizens Voice wrote. “Neither finished high school and both had health problems.”

Hanko’s job in the Philadelphia office put him in charge of the eastern part of the state, including his hometown of Wilkes-Barre.

“For me, looking back, it’s quite an accomplishment to come from those humble beginnings,” Hanko said in a telephone interview with the Citizens Voice. “I got to appreciate what is was like to be at the low end of the economic scale. But it didn’t dissuade me.”

Twitter Becomes FBI’s Most Effective Informant As ISIS Supporters Take to Social Media

twitterBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

One of the FBI’s most effective informants in the crackdown against terrorism has been Twitter.

The social network is an “extraordinarily effective way to sell shoes, or vacations, or terrorism,” FBI Director James Comey said recently, reports The Huffington Post. “It’s buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz. It’s the constant feed … the devil on your shoulder all day long, saying, ‘Kill, kill, kill.'”

What makes it such an effective tool for investigators is the ability to monitor tweets, especially those supporting ISIS.

Investigators said Twitter has helped crack numerous cases recently and continues to be helpful

Weekend Series on Crime History: Nixon Calls LBJ About Death of J. Edgar Hoover

FBI Releases Video of Decades-Old Art Heist at Museum in Boston

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI released a jumpy surveillance video in hopes of solving the decades-old art heist at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Authorities have been scratching their heads since two men, disguised as policemen, stole 13 gems, including three Rembrandts and works by Manet and Degas, NBC News reports.

The FBI released the video to the public for the first time. It was recorded 24 hours before the theft and shows a car that matches the description of the one reported to be involved in the theft the following night. An unidentified man also is shown.

“We have engaged in an exhaustive re-examination of the original evidence in this case,” said U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, “to ensure that all avenues have been explored in the continuing quest to recover these artworks.”

FBI Source: Probe into Hillary Clinton’s Emails Is ‘Criminal,’ Not Fact-Finding

Hillary_Clinton_official_Secretary_of_State_portrait_cropBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI’s examination of Hillary Clinton’s unsecured email account is more than a fact-finding mission, the New York Post reports.

“It’s a criminal probe,” the New York Post reports, citing a federal source with knowledge of the investigation.

Since news of the investigation became public, Clinton’s camp has claimed the probe was not criminal and instead just a fact-finding venture to determine if her private email server was secure.

“It’s definitely a criminal probe,” said the source. “I’m not sure why they’re not calling it a criminal probe.

“The DOJ [Department of Justice] and FBI can conduct civil investigations in very limited circumstances,” but that’s not what this is, the source stressed. “In this case, a security violation would lead to criminal charges. Maybe DOJ is trying to protect her campaign.”

The investigation threatens to further undermine Clinton’s run for president.