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Archive for March, 2017

Senators Request Information on Trump’s Claims of Wiretapping Ordered by Obama

Trump Tower

Trump Tower

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Senators from both sides of the aisle want the Justice Department and FBI to release any information about Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that President Obama had wiretapped phones at Trump Tower during the presidential election.

Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., sent a formal request for information on any action taken to tap Trump’s phones at his New York home and offices, ABC News reports. 

“Congress must get to the bottom of President Trump’s recent allegation that President Obama wiretapped President Trump’s phones during the 2016 election,” wrote Graham and Whitehouse in a letter to FBI director James Comey and Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente.

“As Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, we would take any abuse of wiretapping authorities for political purposes very seriously,” the letter adds.

“We would be equally alarmed to learn that a court found enough evidence of criminal activity or contact with a foreign power to legally authorize a wiretap of President Trump, the Trump Campaign, or Trump Tower.”

On Saturday, Trump claimed on Twitter that President Obama had directed federal authorities to tap Trump’s phones.

Ex-NYPD Cop Fatally Shoots Self As FBI Agents Prepared to Arrest Him

nypd badgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former NYPD cop fatally shot himself in the head as FBI agents pulled him over to arrest him as part of a quadruple homicide and cocaine conspiracy, the New York Post reports. 

Gerard Benderoth, 48, committed suicide on a quiet suburban road in Rockland County around 8:20 a.m. Wednesday.

Benderoth, nicknamed “White Rhino” from his days as a strongman competitor, was about to be arrested on a seal indictment in connection with a murder and drug conspiracy case.

“If this guy put a bullet in his head rather than go and talk to them, he must have been in deep,” a law enforcement source noted to The Post.

A 20-Year Veteran of FBI Takes Over Bureau’s Kansas City Office

fbigunbadgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Darrin Jones, a 20-year FBI veteran, has been appointed to lead the bureau’s Kansas City office.

Jones will replace Eric Jackson, who will head the FBI office in Dallas, the Kanas City Star reports. 

A native of Nebraska, Jones joined the FBI in 1997.

Most recently, Jones was an executive within the Technical Collection Branch of the FBI’s Operation Technology Division in Quantico, Va.

Before that, he served in the Salt Lake City office, helping leader counterterrorism efforts ahead of the 2002 Olympics.

Jones also served in leadership positions the FBI’s Office of Congressional Affairs, Operational Technology Division and the field offices in Anchorage, Alaska, and Albuquerque, N.M.

Trump Proposes Cuts to TSA, Secret Service, FEMA to Pay for Border Wall

Donald Trump, via Wikipedia

Donald Trump, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump wants to free up money for his border wall by mulling cuts to the Coast Guard, TSA, Secret Service and FEMA.

The budget reductions would cut deeply into notable national security and emergency response initiatives, ABC News reports. 

Under the proposal, the administration would cut $1.3 billion from the Coast Guard’s budget, which is a 14% reduction over last year.

TSA stands to lose more than $500 million, and FEMA would be cut by $370 million.

But whether Trump can get Congress to approve the reductions is an entirely different story. Republicans and Democrats questioned the wisdom of the budget cuts.

“The White House needs to go back to drawing board with its budget and produce something to Congress that is workable, realistic, and, most importantly, keeps our country safe,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi, the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee.

Other Stories of Interest

FBI Director Meets with Local Law Enforcement at Ribbon-Cutting for New Boston Office

FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director James Comey met with about 40 local law enforcement leaders over lunch Tuesday before participating in a ribbon-cutting to announce the opening of a new headquarters for the FBI’s Boston field office in Chelsea.

The office, which covers Massachusetts, Main, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, sits on 5.1 acres and will be 220,000 square feet, eight stories and cost $100,000 to build.

Although Comey didn’t field questions from reporters, Harold Shaw, special agent in charge of the FBI office in Boston, said the director talked about drug trafficking, terrorism and gang violence. Comey sought to build a working relationship with other law enforcement agencies, the Boston Globe reports. 

“They were very insightful, the discussions about what’s concerning them most,” said Shaw.

Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes, who is head of the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs of Police Association, said he’s encouraged by the enhanced level of partnership between the FBI and local police.

“The FBI has been incredibly supportive of local police in terms of these issues as they pertain to gang violence, drugs, bank robberies, white collar crime and certainly terrorism,” Kyes said.

FBI Prepares to Help Determine Who Released CIA Records to WikiLeaks

CIA headquarters

CIA headquarters

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is poised to take a major role in determining the identity of the person who gave a trove of CIA documents to WikiLeaks.

The latest leak raises questions about the intelligence community’s ability to keep digital records from getting released to the public.

Army private Chelsea Manning and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden were among the latest to leak secret documents.

“Anybody who thinks that the Manning and Snowden problems were one-offs is just dead wrong,’’ Joel Brenner, former head of U.S. counterintelligence at the office of the Director of National Intelligence, told the Washington Post. “Ben Franklin said three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead. If secrets are shared on systems in which thousands of people have access to them, that may really not be a secret anymore. This problem is not going away, and it’s a condition of our existence.’’

The FBI and CIA have declined to comment.

If the documents’ are verified, authorities must then determine who had access to the documents.

WikiLeaks suggested the source was a former government employee or contractor.

“This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA,’’ WikiLeaks said in announcing the first release of documents. “The archive appears to have been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.’’

President Trump Has Yet to Talk to FBI about Unsubstantiated Wiretapping Claims

Donald Trump, via Wikipedia

Donald Trump, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump made several unsubstantiated claims that then-President Obama ordered surveillance at Trump Tower in New York during the election.

Turns out, Trump has not spoken with FBI Director James Comey to back up the claims.

Comey has already rejected the allegation and wanted the Justice Department to reveal that no such surveillance occurred under his watch.

At a media briefing Tuesday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the president wants Congress to investigate the allegations.

“The House and Senate intelligence committee have the staff and the capabilities and the processes in place to look at this in a way that’s objective, and that’s where it should be done,” Spicer said.

Why not talk to the FBI director?

Spicer responded, “It’s a no-win situation” because it could be perceived as the president interfering with the investigation.

FBI Director Asked to Testify during House Panel’s Investigation of Trump-Russia Ties

US CapitolBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

As the House Intelligence Committee prepares for it first public hearing on the investigation into alleged ties between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign team, lawmakers have asked FBI Director James Comey to testify.

Also invited to attend the March 20 hearing were National Security Agency chief Mike Rogers, former director of national intelligence James Clapper, former CIA director John Brennan, former acting attorney general Sally Yates and two executives from CrowdStrike Inc., a cybersecurity company, the Boston Globe reports. 

The Senate Intelligence Committee is conducting a separate investigation into the Russia allegations.