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Archive for February, 2016

CIA Refuses to Discuss Large Art Collection inside Its Headquarters

CIA Headquarters

CIA Headquarters

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The CIA isn’t exactly open about its operations for obvious reasons.

But the intelligence agency has another secret – a large collection of art inside its headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

CNN reports that an Oregon artist has been trying to finding out what paintings are on the walls of the fortified building for seven years, but she hasn’t been able to get any answers.

“My interest in the project began in 2008,” 42-year-old Joby Barron told CNN via e-mail. “I came across a Taryn Simon photograph from her series ‘American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar.’ The photo was of two abstract paintings in the CIA headquarters in Langley, VA. I was instantly intrigued — why did the CIA have these pieces? I wondered what other art they might have and if it was available to the public.”

What Barron knows is that an art-collected named Vincent Melzac offered to loan his collection to the CIA during secret discussions.

Other Stories of Interest

NFL, FBI Leaders Identify ‘No Credible Threats’ to Super Bowl 50 on Sunday

super bowl 50By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI and NFL security leaders said they’ve identified “no credible threat” to Super Bowl 50 – so far, the Associated Press reports. 

Security will continued to examine the perimeter of Levi’s Stadium to assess any terrorism risks.

Jeffrey Miller, NFL senior vice president of security, expressed satisfaction with the joint effort between local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to address any issues that arise.

“It gives the NFL a great deal of confidence in the safety of our premiere event, our teams and our fans,” Miller said at a news conference Wednesday. “I can speak for Commissioner (Roger) Goodell in saying that we are deeply appreciative of the leadership, resources and attention to detail put forth by our public safety partners.”

Officials said the lessons from recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino have been helpful.

“Every year is different. The world situation, the threat picture is different every February,” said Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. “We are, with the NFL, with our federal partners, and state and local law enforcement, focused on layered security, seen and unseen. We learned from events of the past but we have to protect against events of the future. So, we try to anticipate things that can happen from multiple different directions. But we’re always informed by recent events and what we see in the world situation.”

FBI-Produced ‘Chasing the Dragon’ Tackles Heroin Abuse Among Young People

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

To tackle the alarming increase in heroin and opiate abuse that is reaching every demographic, the FBI has produced a “searing film” with testimony from overdose survivors, the Washington Post reports. 

The documentary, “Chasing the Dragon,” was produced at the request of FBI Director James Comey, who has taken personal interest in the film.

Comey also plans to meet with school officials in the Washington region today to discuss the rise in prescription opiates among young people.

The rise in heroin use is linked to the increasing number of people who have access to prescription painkillers.

About 46,000 people die annually from drug abuse, about a quarter of which are related to heroin.

“The numbers are appalling and shocking — tens of thousands of Americans will die this year from drug-related deaths and more than half of these deaths are from heroin and prescription opioid overdoses,” said Acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg. “You will see in ‘Chasing the Dragon’ opioid abusers that have traveled a remarkably dangerous and self-destructive path. I hope this will be a wakeup call for folks. Please pay close attention to this horrific epidemic. Help reverse it. Save a life. Save a friend. Save a loved one.”

Slate: Body Cameras Not Enough to Bring Transparency to Border Patrol

Border PatrolBy Bryce Clayton Newell
Slate

In November, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Richard Gil Kerlikowske announced that the agency would expand its body-worn camera deployment in the coming months, using the cameras in “law enforcement operations such as checkpoints, vessel boarding and interdictions, training environments, and outbound operations at ports of entry.” This is a modest expansion to the border control agency’s ongoing pilot program, and it comes in spite of an internal evaluation by the agency’s Body-Worn Camera Working Group recommending caution because, among other reasons, the cameras might distract officers, lower officer morale, and fail to work in the harsh climate that border agents work in along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Adopting body-worn cameras as part of a larger project to make the agency more transparent and accountable is potentially a step in the right direction. But without the implementation of proper policies for camera use and public disclosure of footage, it won’t do much to overcome the agency’s historical lack of transparency and its general resistance to releasing video footage to the public. Unless CBP commits to greater transparency and external oversight as part of its body-worn camera program, the cameras may become just another tool of government surveillance wielded by the state without adequate oversight.

In an independent review of agency response to cases of alleged abuse in 2013, investigators found that CBP agents have “deliberately stepped in the path of cars … to justify shooting at the drivers” and have repeatedly fired their weapons through the border fence at Mexican nationals on Mexican soil. (The review was commissioned by CBP, but the agency has tried to keep it from coming to light.) Another investigation found that across 42 agent-involved killings between 2005 and 2013, there has not been a single case in which an officer is “publicly known to have faced consequences.”

At the same time, CBP has also frequently withheld video evidence of agent-involved shootings, even in high-profile cases like the 2012 shooting of José Antonio Elena Rodriguez. In August 2015, a federal judge also sanctioned the agency for destroying video evidence that it was required to preserve during an ongoing civil rights lawsuit. Agent Lonnie Ray Swartz, the officer involved in the case of José Antonio, has recently become the first agent ever charged with murder for shooting a Mexican national through the border fence. However, CBP and the U.S. Justice Department have continually refused to release existing video of the incident to the public. Swartz repeatedly fired his weapon through the fence, hitting 16-year-old José Antonio 10 times, including eight times in the back (and possibly reloading in the process) as the youth was walking away from the officer, supposedly on his way home from a basketball game. Swartz claims it was self-defense.

To read more, click here. 

Homeland Security Releases List of Countries with Visitors Who Overstayed Their Visas

visasBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security released an estimate of foreign visitors who overstay their permits to be in the U.S., Pew Research reports. 

About 416,500 people remained in the U.S. this year after their visas expired in fiscal 2015. That’s out of 45 million people whose visas expired during that period .

Canada led the list of overstays with an estimated 93,035 still in the U.S. Mexico was second with 42,114, followed by Brazil with 35,707.

Homeland Security released the data under pressure tom Congress.

But the information is incomplete because it’s difficult to track how many people have remained in the U.S.

Hillary Clinton E-Mails Contained Veiled References to Intelligence Officers

Hillary_Clinton_official_Secretary_of_State_portrait_cropBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

While secretary of state, Hillary Clinton forwarded information to her personal server that contained references to undercover CIA officers.

But NBC News disputes reports that the e-mails revealed the identity of an undercover intelligence operative.

U.S. officials said the contained veiled references to intelligence officers. Still, those reference were considered classified when the e-mails were reviewed.

NBC News wrote:

In one case, an official said, an undercover CIA officer was referred to as a State Department official with the word “State,” in quotes, as if to suggest the emailer knew the officer was not actually a diplomat. In another case, an email refers to “OGA” for “other government agency,” a common reference to the CIA. Yet another now-classified email chain originated with a member of the CIA director’s staff, leading some officials to question how Clinton could be blamed.

A spokesman for Cinton’s campaign insisted the intelligence officers were not identified and that any information to the contrary is part of an effort to hurt her candidacy.

“This shows yet again how the leaking of selective details gives a completely false impression about what is actually contained in the emails forwarded to Hillary Clinton,” said Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon. “Whenever the full contents of these emails are learned, there is invariably less than meets the eye.”

Other Stories of Interest

Family of Armed Militant Fatally Shot by Officers Outside Wildlife Refuge Claim Coverup

Burns, Oregon

Burns, Oregon

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The family of the man fatally shot by law enforcement officers after participating in the armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon is claiming that the shooting was “unjustified” and the circumstances of his death are being covered up.

Reuters reports that relatives of Robert “LeVoy” Finicium issued a statement that claims the FBI and Oregon state police were “seeking to manipulate and mislead the media and the American public about what really happened.”

The FBI declined to comment on the claims but pointed to the aerial video of Tuesday’s shooting, which they have contended shows Finicium reaching for a gun in his coat pocket .

The family is demanding the release of any video footage recorded by police body cameras or dashboard cameras, as well as any audio recordings.

First Retrial Granted for Case Involving Questionable FBI Hair Samples

courtroomBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Recent admissions by the FBI that its experts have overstated the scientific veracity of forensic hair have led to the first conviction to be overturned.

The Washington Post reports that a Massachusetts man was granted a new trial after spending 30 years in prison for rape.

In April, the FBI and Justice Department confirmed that linking DNA hair testing to crimes “exceeded the limits of science” after the evidence was used to incriminate hundreds of suspects.

A White House-appointed commission, along with the FBI and Justice Department, are working on strengthening forensic science standards.

Errors were uncovered in more than 1,300 cases involving hair samples.