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Archive for February, 2016

Patience Was the FBI’s Strategy to End the Oregon Occupation Peacefully

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 7.48.16 AMBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI played the long game to end the Oregon standoff.

Law enforcement finally surrounded the remaining four occupants 41 days after armed militants took over the Malheur National Wildlife Reserve near Burns. The FBI and state police arrested several leaders of the occupation after 25 days.

The Atlantic reports:

But all of these pale in comparison with the time it took to apprehend Cliven Bundy. The father of Ammon and Ryan Bundy, two leaders of the Oregon occupation, he was arrested Wednesday night at the Portland airport when he arrived from Nevada. He had flown in to support the remaining group of four, three of whom surrendered shortly after he was taken into custody. For the FBI, the wait to arrest Bundy was longer: almost two years, since Bureau of Land Management agents who tried to remove his cattle from federal land where they were grazing without permits or fees were met by a huge group of armed men who turned them away.

Bundy had been illegally grazing his cattle on federal land for more than 20 years, and since 1998 was ordered by a court to remove his animals.

The FBI hasn’t said much about why it waited long.

“As we have said since day one, our goal has been to end this illegal occupation peacefully, and we are grateful that we were able to do so today,” FBI Special Agent Greg Bretzing said in a news release. “I want to make it very clear that we will continue to enforce the law with respect to the refuge and other federal properties. Anyone who chooses to travel to Oregon with the intent of engaging in illegal activity will be arrested. Saying that, I want to reassure those Harney County residents who simply visited the refuge or provided food to the occupiers—we are not looking into those events. We are concerned about those who have criminal, violent intent.”

FBI Found ‘Staggering Corruption’ at Georgia Prisons Where Bribes Were Taken for Contraband

woman-in-prisonBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A two-year undercover FBI investigation, called “Operation Ghost Guard,” led to the arrests of 46 officers at nine Georgia prisons for allegedly accepting bribes to smuggle contraband into jails, the Washington Post reports. 

The correctional officers were indicted on charges of accepting payments to smuggle tobacco, cellphones and drugs into prisons. Some also are accused of protecting drug dealers outside of prisons.

Among those arrested were five members of the elite tactical COBRA unit, whose responsibility is prevent drug deals in prison.

John Horn, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, said the inducements show “staggering corruption.”

“It is truly troubling that so many corrections officers from across the state of Georgia could be so willing to sell their oaths, to sell their badges, for personal profit — to benefit and protect purported drug transactions,” he said, adding that the alleged acts put the public in danger.

Report: ATF improves after Fast and Furious, But Other Federal Agencies Did Not

atf-gunsBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Some federal agencies have not taken adequate steps to prevent another botched gun-smuggling investigation like the one known as “Operation Fast and Furious,” according to a report from the Department of Justice’s inspector general.

The New York Times reports  ATF has made “significant progress” to address problems related to the operation.

But that’s not the case for some other federal law enforcement agencies. The FBI and DEA, for example, have failed to adequately minimize risks connected with gun investigations, the report stated.

Under the botched ATF investigation that was exposed five years ago, federal law enforcement tried to build a criminal case against Mexican drug cartels by allowing American gun traffickers with links to the cartels to smuggle the firearms across the southern border.

The inspection general report praised the Justice Department for instituting recommended changes, such as better training and more oversight for ATF.

Other federal agencies have “not taken sufficient steps to institute policies to avoid repetition of the errors we identified in our report,” the inspector general said.

CIA Director: ISIS Has Capability to Make And Use Chemical Weapons

CIA Director John Brennan

CIA Director John Brennan

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

ISIS has used chemical weapons and has the ability to continue making chlorine and mustard gas, according to CIA Director John Brennan.

“We have a number of instances where ISIL has used chemical munitions on the battlefield,” he said in an interview that is scheduled for CBS News’ 60 Minutes program on Sunday.

Although ISIS has been hammered by military forces across the world, the terrorist group still has the capability to develop deadly munitions, Brennan said, Newsweek reports. 

“There are reports that ISIS has access to chemical precursors and munitions that they can use,” he said.

Other Stories of Interest

FBI Director Comey Promotes Agents to Key Leadership Positions in Agency

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director James B. Comey on Thursday announced several changes at the top of the food chain at the FBI.

David Bowdich (file photo)

David Bowdich (file photo)

David Bowdich, who has served as the head of the Los Angeles FBI, has been named associate deputy director of the FBI at headquarters. He will oversee the FBI’s non-operational branches and divisions.

Michael Steinbach, the assistant director of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, will assume the position of executive assistant director for the National Security Branch at headquarters. He is replacing John Giacalone, who is retiring at the end of February.

James Turgal, the assistant director of the Human Resources Division, has been named executive assistant director for the Information and Technology Branch at headquarters.

Deirdre L. Fike

Deirdre L. Fike

Deirdre Fike, who served as the head of the FBI’s Anchorage Division, has been named assistant director in charge of the Los Angeles Field Office, replacing David Bowdich.

David Schlendorf, assistant director of the Resource Planning Office, has been named assistant director for the Human Resources Division.

Military Prosecutor Agrees with Senate Report about CIA Prisoners Being Tortured

guantanamobayBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An eye-opening Senate report on the CIA’s former interrogation practices is accurate, said the chief military prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay.

The Washington Post reports that the prosecutor’s statements contradict those made by former CIA officials and congressional Republicans, who have insisted the report was strewn with errors.

Brig. Mark Martins made the statements in a motion filed Friday in the case against five people accused of helping carry out the Sept. 11, 2001, attack.

“While the opinions and conclusions of the [Senate report] are irrelevant to these proceedings, the factual recitations of what occurred to the accused are gleaned from the very same Executive Branch documents the Prosecution has reviewed, or is in the process of reviewing, in its own holdings,” Martins wrote.

“As such, the Prosecution will stipulate that the facts contained within the Executive Summary occurred,” Martins stated.

The Senate report described brutal treatment of prisoners held by the CIA around the world. According to the report, the CIA beat and water-boarded prisoners.

  

Other Stories of Interest

Four Remaining Occupiers in Oregon Surrender, Ending 41-Day Siege

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon ended peacefully after 41 tumultuous days.

The four remaining occupiers surrendered to authorities Thursday morning.

Three of the four occupiers were taken into custody without incident, but one occupier stayed behind and insisted he would not come out of the refuge “unless my grievances are heard,” The Washington Post reported. 

The lone holdout, identified as David Fry, was agitated and said on a telephone call that he didn’t “want to be put behind bars” and was having suicidal thoughts.

Shortly after, authorities converged on Fry and arrested him.

FBI agents decided to surround the final occupiers Wednesday afternoon after one of them drove outside of the group’s encampment in what appeared to be a stolen all-terrain vehicle.

“It has never been the FBI’s desire to engage these armed occupiers in any way other than through dialogue, and to that end, the FBI has negotiated with patience and restraint in an effort to resolve the situation peacefully,” Greg Bretzing, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Oregon division, said in a statement. “However, we reached a point where it became necessary to take action in a way that best ensured the safety of those on the refuge, the law enforcement officers who are on scene, and the people of Harney County who live and work in this area.”

Gun-Toting Conservative Helped Negotiate End of Occupation at Wildlife Refuge

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

It was an intervention from the unlikeliest of people – Michele Fiore, a gun-toting politician who has supported the occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon.

On Wednesday Fiore was acting as a negotiator between the FBI and the four remaining occupiers, who may turn themselves in this morning.

Much of the credit for potentially ending the occupation belongs to Fiore, a 45-year-old Nevada state assemblywoman, who spoke to occupiers over the phone Wednesday night, the Washington Post reports. 

Whatever Fiore told the occupiers appears to have prompted them to tentatively agree to turn themselves in Thursday morning.

“Fiore has really given the holdouts a sense of purpose,” tweeted John Sepulvado, a reporter covering the standoff for Oregon Public Broadcasting. “Regardless of what you think of her politics — [she] clearly diffused the situation.”