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Archive for January, 2017

Sen. Booker Blasts Trump’s Choice for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions

Sen. Cory Booker

Sen. Cory Booker

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Sen. Cory Booker delivered passionate testimony Wednesday that claimed Sen. Jeff Sessions would not seek justice for everyone if he was the next U.S. attorney general.

“If confirmed, Senator Sessions will be required to pursue justice for women, but his record indicates that he won’t,” the New Jersey Democrat said. “He will be expected to defend the equal rights of gay and lesbian and transgender Americans, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend voting rights, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend the rights of immigrants and affirm their human dignity, but the record indicates that he won’t.”

Despite complaints from opponents of Sessions, it appeared unlikely that Democrats could stop the Republican-controlled Senate from confirming him.

Civil Rights and immigration advocates have opposed Sessions’ appointment.

Former attorney general Michael Mukasey disagreed, saying Sessions is “thoroughly dedicated to the rule of law and the mission of the department.”

First Female Special Agent in Charge of Knoxville FBI Division Speaks Out

fbi logo largeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Late last year, Renae McDermott became the first woman to be appointed as Special Agent in Charge of the Knoxville FBI division.

It’s a significant achievement sine only 12% of the senior-ranking positions in the FBI are held by women, WBIR reports. 

McDermott’s career with the FBI began in 1989, holding positions in Dallas, Albuquerque and Washington D.C. headquarters.

Before the appointment, McDermott served as special assistant to FBI James Comey.

When McDermott was growing up in Pittsburgh, she wanted to be a farmer. But while in college, she discovered a desire to help children.

“I knew I wanted to be a public servant after I went through the not being a dairy farmer, a veterinarian or a teacher. I ended up finding a good niche with the FBI,” McDermott said.

While she has worked in counter-terrorism and cyber crimes, most of her work involving fighting violent crime.

“The most proud (moment of my career) was probably an investigation that happened when I was initially an agent in Miami. A kidnapping of a mother and two sons at Christmastime. We worked diligently on it for a week and we recovered them alive. That has been and will be one of the highlights early on in my career,” she said.

McCain Shows Documents to FBI That Indicate Trump’s Team Had Contact with Russia

John McCain

John McCain

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump’s campaign had secret contacts with Moscow, and Russian intelligence has information that is personally compromising to the president-elect, according to documents obtained by Sen. John McCain.

McCain, a Republican, passed the documents to FBI Director James Comey, the Guardian reports. 

The documents were published by BuzzFeed, which made clear that the information was “unverified and potentially unverifiable.”

In response to the documents, Trump tweeted: “FAKE NEWS – A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!”

The Guardian spoke to an official in the U.S. administration who said the documents appear to be reliable.

AG Candidate Jeff Sessions Won’t Commit to Protecting Journalists’ Sources

Jeff Sessions at the confirmation hearing.

Jeff Sessions at the confirmation hearing.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Sen. Jeff Sessions, who is Donald Trump’s choice for the next attorney general, said Tuesday at his confirmation hearing that he would not commit to keeping journalists from going to jail for refusing to leak information from anonymous sources.

By contrast, Attorney General Eric Holder said in 2015 that he would not jail reporters for doing their jobs, Huffington Post reports

“If confirmed, will you commit to following the standards already in place at the Justice Department and will you make that commitment not to put reporters in jail for doing their jobs?” asked Sen. Amy Klobuchar, R-Minn.

“I’m not sure,” Sessions responded. “I have not studied those regulations.”

Sessions said that information from journalists could serve as a “mechanism through which unlawful intelligence is obtained.”

Homeland Security Candidate Distances Self from Trump on Border Wall, Russia

Marine Gen. John Kelly

Marine Gen. John Kelly

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President-elect Donald Trump and his nominee for secretary of Homeland Security don’t see eye to eye on two critical issues.

During his confirmation hearing Tuesday, retired Marine Corps General John Kelly expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of a border wall and said that he agrees “with high confidence” that Russia tried to influence the presidential race, Bloomberg reports.  

“A physical barrier in and of itself will not do the job” at the border, Kelly said. Instead, he favors a “layered defense,” including the use of border patrol agents and technology such as drones that would work in “places that perhaps the wall can’t be built or will be built any time soon.”

Kelly said he’s talked about the wall with Trump “only briefly.”

If confirmed, Kelly would be the first former general to lead Homeland Security since it was created in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001 terror attack.

“I have never had a problem speaking truth to power, and I firmly believe that those in power deserve full candor and my honest assessment and recommendations,” Kelly said in his opening statement.

Lawsuit: Border Patrol Destroyed Surveillance of Conditions at Detention Facilities

A overcrowded, cold detention facility in Tucson.

A overcrowded, cold detention facility in Tucson.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Border Patrol officials are accused in a lawsuit of destroying surveillance footage of poor conditions inside detention facilities in Arizona.

The National Immigration Law Center filed a motion Monday that alleged Border Patrol knowingly recorded over videos and handed over unwatchable footage, BuzzFeed reports. 

“This is yet another example of an agency going out of its way to keep the horrible conditions in these facilities out of the public eye,” Karen Tumlin, managing attorney for NILC, told BuzzFeed News.

Border Patrol officials declined to comment.

The facilities are used for detainees who are caught illegally crossing the border.

Photos released in August showed poor conditions at the facilities.

Other Stories of Interest

Florida Airport Shooter Told FBI He Had ‘Terroristic Thoughts’ 2 Months Ago

Esteban Santiago

Esteban Santiago

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Armed with a loaded handgun, Esteban Santiago walked into an FBI office in Anchorage, Alaska, two months ago and said he had “terroristic thoughts” and was being forced by the CIA to watch ISIS videos.

The FBI handed him to local police, and he was taken to a mental health facility and his handgun was seized, NBC News reports. 

Four days later, police returned his gun, and Santiago was a free man.

Last week, Santiago opened fire at the Fort Lauderdale airport, killing five people and wounding eight.

If the FBI took the threat more seriously, Santiago may have never carried out the shooting.

But FBI officials counter that Santiago’s interactions in Alaska were a routine reality for the bureau, occurring nearly every day.

“Guidelines governing the evaluation of potential terrorist threats need to be adjusted so that the FBI has greater flexibility when assessing the risk posed by someone who has been brought to their attention,” said John Cohen, a Rutgers University professor and former counter terrorism coordinator at the Department of Homeland. “Behavioral assessment protocols and threat management strategies have proven highly effective in preventing assassinations school shootings and other acts of violence, and those same tools should be available on a consistent basis to counter terrorism investigators.”

AG Candidate Jeff Sessions Expected to Be Grilled During Senate Hearing Today

Jeff Sessions

Jeff Sessions

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for attorney general is expected to face fierce scrutiny Tuesday during his confirmation hearing.

Democrats, who are worried about Sessions’ civil rights record, plan to grill him on race, women’s rights and prosecutorial conduct, CNN reports. 

Despite what is expected to be a grueling two days of interrogations, Sessions likely will be confirmed because Republicans hold a majority in the Senate, and no GOP senator has openly criticized the AG candidate.

During the hearing, Sessions is expected to reveal his priorities for the Justice Department, and those likely will include combatting rising crime and addiction rates and terrorism. 

In 1986, Sessions was denied a federal judgeship following confirmation hearings that revealed he allegedly made racist remarks.