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Archive for December, 2016

DEA Blames Media for Spreading Misinformation about Marijuana

Photo by Steve Neavling.

Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA is taking a page from Donald Trump’s playbook – blame the media.

The DEA complained in its annual survey that “media attention” to marijuana is making it difficult to enforce federal laws that make pot illegal, the Washington Post reports. 

It also appears to be the media’s fault for spreading inaccurate information about the dangers of marijuana and the drug’s legality.

The report reads:

Many states have passed laws allowing the cultivation, possession, and use of marijuana within their respective states. Due to these varying state laws, as well as an abundance of media attention surrounding claims of possible medical benefits, the general public has been introduced to contradictory and often inaccurate information regarding the legality and benefits of marijuana use. This has made enforcement and prosecution for marijuana-related offenses more difficult, especially in states that have approved marijuana legalization.

Georgia’s Secretary of State Accuses Homeland Security of Attempted Hack

Data securityBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Georgia’s secretary of state alleges Homeland Security tried to illegally hack the state’s computer network that contains the voter registration database.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp claims in a letter to Homeland Security that his office discovered that a DHS Internet address tried to breach the computer system, the Hill reports.

The system also contains personal information of more than 6.5 million residents, 800,000 corporate entities and 500,000 licensed or registered professional.

“On November 15, 2016, an IP address associated with the Department of Homeland Security made an unsuccessful attempt to penetrate the Georgia Secretary of State’s firewall,” Kemp wrote. “I am writing you to ask whether DHS was aware of this attempt and, if so, why DHS was attempting to breach our firewall.” 

The hack, if there was one, occurred a week after the election.

Homeland Security said it is investigating.

“DHS takes the trust of our public and private sector partners seriously, and we will respond to Secretary Kemp directly,” said Deputy Press Secretary Scott McConnell.

Other Stories of Interest

Trump Chooses Retired Marine General Kelly to Head Homeland Security

Marine Gen. John Kelly

Marine Gen. John Kelly

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to run Homeland Security is retired Marine Gen. John F. Kelly, a border-security hawk who retired in February as chief of the U.S. Southern Command, the Washington Post reports. 

Kelly will be responsible for delivering on Trump’s pledge to crack down on illegal immigration.

The 66-year-old general served for more than four four decades and has widespread respect in the military community.

The choice for the position came down down to Kelly and Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, who many conservatives believed wasn’t hawkish enough about border security.

New FBI Headquarters Gets Green Light from Congressional Commitee

Current FBI headquarters

Current FBI headquarters

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The long-delayed effort to build a new FBI headquarters has gotten the green light from the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to move forward.

But the GSA still needs to finalize the location of the new headquarters, Federal News Radio reports. 

The committee approval was praised by chairman Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa.

“This will greatly improve the FBI’s security posture and its operations, and save money. But because of the size and complexity of the project, it will important to ensure there is strong congressional oversight to keep the project on time and on budget,” Shuster said.

The plan calls for the GSA and FBI to pay for the headquarters. President Obama’s 2017 budget proposal includes $1.4 billion for the project, which has already received $390 million under the fiscal 2016 omnibus spending bill.

Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., said many challenges are involved.

“What makes this project challenging is it is not a simple construction project of a single building. The project will be a secure campus with separate visitor screening, its own utility plant and specialized security requirements,” Barletta said.

Lawyer: FBI Agent Who Shot at Officer in Michigan Felt Paranoid

Planet Fitness logo.

Planet Fitness logo.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An FBI agent who fired his gun at a police officer outside a fitness club in Grand Rapids, Mi., was paranoid and couldn’t recall most of what happened, his lawyer said.

Police responded to Planet Fitness after 911 calls that a man was brandishing  gun inside the fitness club. It turned out to be FBI Special Agent Ruben Hernandez, who was in Michigan from Los Vegas for an investigation. The officer tried to make contact with Hernandez, who opened fire. No one was hurt. He was arrested on assault charges.

Attorney Larry Willey said  the agent’s recollection of what happened was “vague, hazy” and may have been affected by alcohol, the Associated Press reports. 

ATF: Warehouse Fire That Killed 36 People Trapped People on Second Floor

police tapeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An enormous fire that ripped through a converted Oakland, Calif., warehouse and killed at least 36 people broke out on the first floor, trapping people on the second floor, the ATF said.

Federal investigators said they could find no evidence of fire alarms or sprinters in the building, and Oakland officials acknowledged the building had not been inspected for three decades.

ABC 7 reports that two stairwells in the building had no exits. 

Authorities are still trying to determine what caused the fire, but no evidence of arson has surfaced.

It was the deadliest fire in a structure in the U.S. in 13 years.

DEA Reports Spike in Cocaine Availability And Use in U.S.

Cocaine-jpgBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A cocaine production boom in Colombia has increased use and availability of the drug in the United States for the first time in nearly a decade, the DEA reports.

The DEA’s 2016 National Drug Threat Assessment concluded that more cocaine is reaching the U.S.  because of increases in seizures and overdose deaths. 

The increase occurred between 2014 and 2015.

The DEA estimates a 67% increase in cocaine production in Columbia, one of the largest providers of the drug in the U.S.

The DEA also identified new risks, including cocaine mixed with the deadly opioid fentanyl.

Other Stories of Interest

Irony of Trump’s Choice for Secretary of State Draws Criticism from Ex-FBI Agents

Former CIA Director David Petraeus

Former CIA Director David Petraeus

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President-elect Donald Trump’s choice of Gen. David Petraeus to be the secretary of state has drawn criticism from within the FBI.

Trump relentlessly attacked the FBI for failing to prosecute Hillary Clinton for using a private email server. But ironically, Trump wants to appoint Petraeus, who was charged after he confessed to handling classified material to his mistress and biographer. He resigned in 2012.

“It should and will rankle anyone who is objective and who works with classified info,” Ellen Glasser, a 24-year FBI veteran who now teaches criminology at the University of North Florida, told the Hill. 

“Notwithstanding his past decorated service, serving in the Cabinet is a privilege that should not be afforded to someone whose security clearance was yanked and who could not get another one the normal way,” she added.

Federal prosecutors said Petraeus intentionally mislead authorities during the investigation.

“One of the issues that many at the FBI would have would be less the classification violations than the alleged lying to the FBI during the investigation,” said Michael German, a former FBI agent who is now a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice.

“It’s the standard that’s imposed on agents,” he said. “Even in the smallest misconduct case, what every agent knows is that the misconduct isn’t going to get you fired; it’s the lack of candor.”