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Archive for March, 2017

Laptops Will Be Banned on Flights From 10 Airports From 8 Muslim-Majority Nations

laptop-photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Traveling to the U.S. just got more restrictive.

Passengers traveling to the U.S.  from 10 airports in eight Muslim-majority countries will no longer be aloud to bring laptops, tablets and other portable electronic devices on board, Lori Aratani of the Washington Post reports. The devices must now be packed in checked luggage.

The Post reports that senior U.S. administration officials said the rules were prompted by “evaluated intelligence” that terrorists continue to target commercial aviation by “smuggling explosives in portable electronic devices.”

“Based on this information, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and Transportation Security Administration acting administrator Huban Gowadia have determined it is necessary to enhance security procedures for passengers at certain last-point-of-departure airports to the United States,” officials said late Monday, according to the Post story.

Dylann Roof’s Friend to Be Sentenced to 27-33 Months for Lying to FBI

Dylann Roof

Dylann Roof

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A week before Dylann Roof killed nine people at a historically black church in South Carolina, he shared his plans with a friend as they drank vodka and snorted cocaine about a week earlier.

Now his friend, Joey Meek, is expected to be sentenced today to 27 to 33 months in prison for lying to the FBI, the New York Post reports.

Authorities say Meek lied to the FBI about the plot and even encouraged friends not to alert authorities about it.

Roof was sentenced to death for the June 2015 shooting.

Roof, an admitted racist, shot people inside an Emanuel AME church.

Sun Sentinel: Trump Should Welcome FBI Investigation into Russian Interference

Donald TrumpBy Editorial Board
Sun Sentinel

If he’s got nothing to hide, President Trump should welcome the fact that the FBI is investigating possible links between Russia and the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election.

Trump should be the first one saying “Bring it on” after FBI Director James Comey said Monday he’s been authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation because of the extreme public interest in the case.

Ever since Trump was inaugurated on Jan. 20, there have been questions and rumors about links between members of Trump’s campaign and the Russian government. The public deserves answers, and the president should also want to finally clear the air on an issue that has dogged his campaign for months. There has been enough speculation, and Trump should be pushing for facts and information to be made public.

Instead, what we got from Trump on Monday were early morning tweets slamming the idea that there was any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The tweets came before Comey appeared in front of a House panel and confirmed for the first time the FBI is investigating possible Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election.

“. . . there is no evidence Potus colluded with Russia,” Trump tweeted at 6:35 Monday morning. “This story is FAKE NEWS and everyone knows it!”

Trump tried to put the attention on leaked classified information, rather than the information itself.

“The real story the Congress, the FBI and all others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information,” Trump tweeted at 7:02 a.m. “Must find leaker NOW.”

About two hours later, Trump asked in a tweet, “What about all of the contact with the Clinton campaign and the Russians?”

Trump’s propensity for deflection won’t be successful now. The world knows the FBI is investigating, and facts are needed — not tweets, and not speculation.

To read more click here. 

Trump Sticks to His Unfounded Surveillance Claims Despite FBI, NSA Remarks

FBI Director James Comey, via Wikipedia

FBI Director James Comey, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump and the White House are sticking to their unfounded claims that President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 election, despite zero evidence from the FBI and NSA.

On Monday, FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers both told the House Intelligence Committee that they’ve seen no evidence to back up Trump’s claims, which were first made in a March 4 tweet.

“There’s a lot more questions that need to be asked about what was being done in terms of surveillance,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said at a press briefing today. “Who was being surveilled? Why were they being surveilled? What were the techniques? I get that you guys want to know the end of the book right now, but we’re in the first chapter of this process.”

Hours earlier, Comey said, “The department has no information that supports those tweets.”

Trump continues to show little faith in the country’s intelligence agencies, repeating unfounded claims.

“I’ve seen nothing on the NSA side that we’ve engaged in such activity nor that anyone ever asked us to engage in such activity,” the NSA director said.

Ex-Border Patrol Agent Sentenced to 13+ Years for Smuggling Cocaine

border patrolBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former Border Patrol agent was sentenced to more than 13 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to charges that he tried to smuggle cocaine in Arizona.

Juan Pimentel, of Rio Rico, was arrested in November 2015 after authorities say he thought he was smuggling 110 pounds of cocaine, the Associated Press reports. He actually was unwittingly part of a sting operation and was carrying a white powder.

Pimentel, who also pleaded guilty to receiving a bribe by a public official, took cash in exchange for looking up a license plate from a database used only by law enforcement.

Pimentel served as an agent in Arizona since 2001 before resigning after his arrest.

DHS Releases List of Jails, Municipalities That Won’t Cooperate with Immigration Officials

jail2photoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security fired back at municipalities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials, releasing a list of jails and jurisdictions that have denied immigrant detainer requests. 

Those requests are directed at cities and counties that are holding an inmate who is in the country illegally.

The so-called “sanctuary jurisdictions” have stated various reasons for not cooperating, including the fear that it would undermine policing and cooperation with law enforcement.

The list was published Monday and includes more than 200 unnamed individuals who ICE says committed “countable criminal activity.” Also listed are the jails where the undocumented immigrants are lodged.

Overall, less than 10% of municipalities refused to cooperate.

“When law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release serious criminal offenders, it undermines ICE’s ability to protect the public safety and carry out its mission,” Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan said.

Other Stories of Interest

FBI’s Comey on Trump’s Claims About Obama: ‘I Have No Information That Supports Those Tweets’

FBI Director James Comey testifies Monday

FBI Director James Comey testifies Monday

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director James Comey on Monday confirmed what everyone had been saying: The FBI and Justice Department has no information supporting President Donald Trump’s claims that President Barack Obama wiretapped his campaign.

“I have no Information that supports those tweets,” Comey told the U.S. House Committee on Intelligence.

The statement is likely to further embarrass and undermine the credibility of the president and his administration, which has often relied on media reports as a source of intelligence rather than turning to the U.S. intelligence agencies.

Adm. Michael Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, who sat next to Comey, also testified there was no evidence that British intelligence helped Obama wiretap Trump.

Earlier, Comey confirmed that the FBI is investigating concerns about the Russians meddling in the presidential election.

 

Eric Starkman: The Unethical Preet Bharara and His Despicable Media Enablers

Eric Starkman is founder and president of STARKMAN, a public relations and crisis communications firm based in Los Angeles.  He was previously a reporter at major newspapers in the U.S. and Canada.

By Eric Starkman
For ticklethewire.com

preet-bharara-time

Growing up in Toronto I had a quintessentially Canadian view about government authority: Only bad people ran afoul of the law.

But my innocence was shattered when I was a young reporter at The Toronto Star and Ontario’s Attorney General leaked me some information about some entrepreneurs who had embarrassed his Administration that I knew to be untrue. I didn’t write the story but other reporters happily picked up the narrative, ultimately giving the government the PR cover to seize the businesses of the entrepreneurs without any due process. I’m still shaken by the abuse of power.

I naively believed that such prosecutorial wrongdoing could never happen in the U.S. My bubble was quickly burst when The Detroit News hired me as a business reporter and assigned me to cover the high profile administrative hearing of Stanford Stoddard, a maverick Michigan banker who the Comptroller of the Currency alleged had misappropriated funds from the bank he founded. In her opening statement, a young ambitious OCC attorney alleged that among Stoddard’s wrongdoings was using bank funds to purchase alcohol. As Stoddard was a devout Mormon the charge was exceptionally damning, so I asked Stoddard’s attorney about the allegation. Turns out the alcohol in question was a bottle of wine for a religious ceremony.

Former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who was lionized in the media as “The Sherriff of Wall Street,” jolted me with another wakeup call about prosecutorial wrongdoing. Spitzer and his minions routinely spread false or misleading information about my former client Dick Grasso after he was forced out of the New York Stock Exchange because of bogus allegations the former chairman and CEO was overpaid. An example of Team Spitzer’s dishonesty was leaking a document that showed Grasso’s son accompanied him on the private jet the NYSE chartered so Grasso could host a reception at Davos, Switzerland. Spitzer’s team neglected to provide the documentation showing that Grasso reimbursed the NYSE for the cost of his son’s trip.

Preet Bharara, who was just fired as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, took Spitzer’s prosecutorial abuse to an even higher level. For a time, Bharara was an even bigger media darling than Spitzer, garnering fawning media coverage for his high-profile cases, including this gusher of a puff piece by William Cohan in Fortune. Bharara loved the media limelight, routinely holding news conferences to trump up publicity for his cases and leaking damaging allegations to obsequious reporters who gladly published them and abetted in the smearing of his targets before they had an opportunity to defend themselves.

As Jesse Eisinger noted last week in Pro Publica, Bharara was no hero. His prosecutorial track record was mixed, as several of his high-profile cases were overturned on appeal. And his practice of arguing his cases in the media earned him the opprobrium of the judge overseeing his case against Sheldon Silver, the former NY Democratic State Assembly speaker, who charged that Bharara’s media blitz “strayed so close to the rules governing his own conduct.”

Even Cohan came to appreciate Bharara’s unethical behavior, publishing this impressive story about the questionable tactics used to pressure former hedge fund manager Todd Newman to settle insider trading charges. Bharara tellingly was too tongue tied to talk to Cohan for a story that was critical of him.

Sadly, the universe of reporters who appreciate the dangers of prosecutorial abuse is limited to a handful of some very experienced reporters.  One of them is New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin, who has written critically about Bharara and presumably played a meaningful role in the critical portrayal of U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades in the Showtime series “Billions.” (Sorkin is one of the show’s creators).  The Rhoades character is clearly based on Bharara, replete with the latter’s petulance and media manipulation. The show also admirably is unkind in its portrayal of a reporter and his pursuit of a scoop.

Best-selling author Michael Lewis took up the cause of Sergey Aleynikov, the Goldman Sachs programmer who was convicted and sentenced to prison for stealing computer code, Jim Stewart wrote about the questionable charges leveled against Zachary Warren, and Joe Norcera wrote an admirable column about the shameful prosecution of Charlie Engle.

Diane Brady, among the fairest and most ethical journalists, recently commented that stories based on leaked documents should be held to the same reporting standards as any news story.  That’s an admirable requirement, but regretfully we’ve entered the Brian Stelter media age, where reporters who publish leaked documents and give anonymous people a platform for their political agendas are deemed “investigative journalists.”

The media can’t be counted on to protect against prosecutorial wrongdoing. But with Bharara out of office, the Southern District is momentarily a safer place for innocent people.