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Archive for April, 2016

Plans for New TSA Headquarters Delayed for 2 Years Over Bidding Process

tsaBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The TSA was expected to get a new headquarters in Alexandria by 2018, but those plans have been delayed until 2020, the Alexandria Times reports.

The decision appears to be influenced by plans for a new bidding process.

The GSA recently requested a request to amend the lease proposals to bidders to clarify certain requirements.

A judge recently voided a lease by Victory Center at 5001 Eisenhower Ave., where TSA was expected to move, over issues with the square footage available.

Other Stories of Interest

DEA Plans to Soon Decide Whether to Reschedule Marijuana to Acknowledge Medicinal Benefits

MarijuanaBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

For decades, marijuana has been classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which means it has no accepted medical use.

Now the DEA may soon decide whether to reclassify marijuana in the first half of 2016, the agency said in a letter to senators, the Huffington Post reports. 

The DEA was responding to a request by eight Democratic senators who want the federal government to conduct more research into marijuana’s medical benefits.

“DEA understands the widespread interest in the prompt resolution to these petitions and hopes to release its determination in the first half of 2016,” DEA said the 25-page letter, obtained by The Huffington Post.

FBI Director Says Bureau ‘Purchased a Tool’ to Unlock iPhone

Apple-iphoneBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director James Comey said the FBI “purchased a tool” to unlock an iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters.

Comey, who made the disclosure during a speech at Ohio’s Kenyon College, didn’t elaborate on the technology.

“The people that we bought this [tool] from – I know a fair amount about them and I have a high degree of confidence that they are very good at protecting it, and their motivations align with ours,” Comey said during a question-and-answer period following his talk, Fox News reports. 

The FBI is expected to share details with some members of Congress.

Comey said the technology only works on an iPhone 5C.

“This doesn’t work on [an iPhone] 6S, doesn’t work in a 5S, and so we have a tool that works on a narrow slice of phones,” he added.

FBI Cyber Security Expert May Dodge Prison for Collecting Child Pornography

Brian Haller

Brian Haller

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An FBI cyber security expert who was busted collecting child pornography may dodge jail and be allowed to live across the street from a Seattle elementary school.

Brian Haller, who led an FBI group that fought cybercrime, was arrested after agents discovered that he had used a Tor network site to collect hundred of files of child pornography, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 

Although Haller faces up to five years in prison, federal prosecutors have asked a judge to spare him jail time when he is sentenced Friday for possession of child pornography.

A federal judge will decide whether to grant leniency.

“The sentence suggested by prosecutors is nearly unheard of for child pornography crimes in the region,” The Post-Intelligencer wrote. “Haller would be Western Washington’s first federal child porn convict to catch such a break since the U.S. Sentencing Commission started tracking the crime separately five years ago.”

ACLU: Border Patrol Agents Looting Immigrants Before Deporting Them

border patrol 3By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Undocumented immigrant are being stripped of their possessions by Border Patrol agents before being deported back to Mexico with ID or money, advocacy groups allege.

In a complaint with Homeland Security, the ACLU of New Mexico and a coalition of organizations allege that undocumented immigrants were deported with no belongings in 26 cases, CBS News reports. 

“DHS will review the complaint once we receive it,” DHS spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said. “DHS has strict standards in place to ensure that detainees’ personal property – including funds, baggage and other effects – is safeguarded and controlled while they are in detention and returned to them when they are released from CBP/ICE custody or removed from the United States. Any allegation of missing property will be thoroughly investigated.”

The groups say immigrants are sometimes sent without their belongings to cities in Mexico where they have no acquaintances.

Boston Globe: No Urgency on Clinton Investigation ‘Unfair to the Country’

hillary-clintonBy Joan Vennochi
Boston Globe

If FBI Director James Comey feels no deadline pressure to wrap up the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server, he should.

“The urgency is to do it well and promptly. And ‘well’ comes first,” Comey told local law enforcement agents in Buffalo on Monday, according to the Niagara Gazette.

“Well” is important. But so is “promptly,” and the FBI’s definition of that is unclear.

The probe, underway for a year now, addresses a fundamental question: Did Clinton intentionally or recklessly forward classified information in a way that put the country at risk?

Getting the answer sooner rather than later seems only fair.

“Yes, there surely is a professional, ethical, and moral obligation of the Feds to finish the investigation ASAP rather than leave a cloud hanging over the electoral process,” said noted criminal defense lawyer Harvey Silverglate. What’s also troubling, said Silverglate, is that “we don’t even know who is ignoring his/her ethical obligations, since we have not been informed, to my knowledge at least, who is in charge of the investigation.” Is it Attorney General Loretta Lynch, he asks, or — given the highly charged political nature of the investigation — a designee?

Democrats have a special interest in reaching closure before picking their nominee. Even the most loyal Clinton supporters wonder if an indictment is more than right-wing wishful thinking.

But an investigation that drags on past the convention, into the fall, is more than a partisan concern. It’s unfair to the country as a whole.

To read more click here. 

Other Stories of Interest

Coal King Don Blankenship Sentenced to 1 Year in Prison for Safety Violations

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 6.31.39 PM

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Former Massey Energy Chief Executive Officer Don Blankenship, 66, was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Charleston, W. Va., to one year in prison and fined $250,000 for conspiracy to violate mine health and safety standards in West Virginia where 29 miners were killed in a coal dust explosion six years ago.

In December he became the first CEO in U.S. history to be convicted of a workplace-safety crime, Bloomberg reports. 

“This sentence is a victory for workers and workplace safety,”  Acting U.S. Attorney Carol Casto said in a statement “It lets companies and their executives know that you can’t take chances with the lives of coal miners and get away with it.  Putting the former chief executive officer of a major corporation in prison sends a message that violating mine safety laws is a serious crime and those who break those laws will be held accountable.”

A Justice Department press release stated:

Over the course of the trial, in which jury selection began on Oct. 1, 2015, and the jury returned a guilty verdict on Dec. 3, 2015, the jury heard evidence from 27 witnesses called by the United States.  Many of these witnesses were coal miners who worked at the Upper Big Branch (UBB) mine prior to the 2010 explosion and they testified in detail from their firsthand knowledge of the unsafe working conditions at UBB, violations of U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) regulations and organized efforts to obstruct and interfere with MSHA inspectors.

The jury heard from Bill Ross, former Manager of Technical Services at Massey, who testified that he warned Blankenship about the company’s practice of rampant violations and told the defendant prior to the UBB explosion that Massey’s standard tactic of ignoring or defrauding MSHA could not be sustained without the possibility of a serious accident that could have fatalities.  The evidence also showed that Blankenship received daily updates on safety violations and helped perpetuate them.

“Putting profits over the safety of workers is reprehensible,” Casto remarked.  “The jury acknowledged that with the guilty verdict and the sentence imposed today recognizes that disregarding safety laws has real consequences.  From the beginning, the objective of this investigation and this prosecution was to not only show that those who violate safety laws will be held responsible, but also to deter these violations in the future to make everyone’s workplace safer.”

Lengel: The FBI and Justice Department Will Get Grief for The Hillary Email Probe When It’s Complete, No Matter What

hillary-clinton

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Any way you put, when the FBI probe into the Hillary Clinton emails is finished, FBI Director James Comey and his agents, along with Attorney General Loretta Lynch,  are bound to get a lot of grief.

If Hillary walks free, the Hillary fans will say it all proves it was a witch hunt and a waste of money and time investigators could have better spent looking at far more important things like terrorism, medicare fraud and public corruption. If she gets indicted, they’ll cry foul and accuse the feds of meddling in the political process.

Conversely,  if there’s no indictment, conservatives will scream that that the FBI and Justice Department are toadies of the Obama Administration, which has an interest in Hillary winning the presidential election.

It’s a no win. But the FBI and Justice are banking on the hopes that people see they did a thorough job and tried to call the shots objectively.

Either way, it would only be fair that investigators wrap it up as soon as possible. A presidential election could be in the balance, and the closer November gets, the more the FBI and Justice subject itself to accusations of tampering with the political process.

It’s not an unenviable spot to be in.