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Archive for October, 2017

FBI Stumped on What Motivated Mass Shooting in Las Vegas

Stephen Paddock

Stephen Paddock

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Unable to determine why Stephen Paddock opened fire at a music festival in Las Vegas, the FBI is erecting billboards across Nevada encouraging people to help uncover his motive.

“We still do not have a clear motive or reason why,” a frustrated Clark County Undersheriff Kevin McMahill said Friday, the Independent reports. “We have looked at literally everything.”

Investigators have examined 1,000 leads and the politics, finances and social behavior of Paddock but have yet to determine what prompted Paddock to pull off the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

“We have been down each and every one of these paths,” McMahill said. “We all want answers.”

The billboards will encourage anyone with information to call 800-CALL-FBI.

“If you know something, say something,” said Aaron Rouse, agent in charge of the Las Vegas FBI office. “We will not stop until we have the truth.”

FBI Terrorism Unit Warns of Potential Violence from Black Activists

Protest in Detroit. Photo by Steve Neavling.

Protest in Detroit. Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A leaked FBI report shows the federal government is worried that “black identity extremists” are a violent threat.

The August 2017 assessment by the FBI’s counter-terrorism division claims that “perceptions of police brutality against African Americans spurred an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement and will very likely serve as justification for such violence.” 

The assessment has raised concerns among civil rights activists that black activists will be targets of surveillance.

“When we talk about enemies of the state and terrorists, with that comes an automatic stripping of those people’s rights to speak and protest,” Mohammad Tajsar, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, told the Guardian. “It marginalizes what are legitimate voices within the political debate that are calling for racial and economic justice.” 

In a statement to Foreign Policy, the FBI said it cannot initiate an investigation based solely on an individual’s race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, or the exercise of First Amendment rights.” 

Undercover FBI Agent Thwarts Terrorist Attacks in New York City

Times Square, via Wikipedia

Times Square, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An undercover FBI agent foiled terrorist attacks in New York City that would have targeted concert venues, Times Square and subway stations, according to court records and testimony.

The plots were made public by a federal court after three men were accused of launching terrorist attacks in New York City, the Guardian reports

An undercover FBI agent posing as an Islamist extremists is credited with thwarting the attacks.

Criminal complaints allege 19-year-old  Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy told the agent that “these Americans need an attack” and that he wanted to “create the next 9/11.”

The Guardian wrote:

The other men are Talha Haroon, who was arrested in Pakistan, and Russell Salic, who was arrested in the Philippines, where he is a citizen. Both are awaiting extradition to the US.

Haroon, who was introduced to the agent by Bahnasawy, was planning to travel to the US to allegedly help him with the attacks.

In messages, he told the agent that the subway was a perfect target; that they should shoot as many passengers on the train as possible, including women and children; and that “when we run out of bullets we let the vests go off”.

Salic, who is a doctor and is accused of sending money to help fund the planned attacks, was also arrested in the Philippines for his alleged involvement in kidnappings and beheadings blamed on pro-Isis militants, a Philippine official said.

Deal to Protect ‘Dreamers’ Endangered by Trump’s Hard-Line Immigration Plan

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Hopes of a bi-partisan measure to protect younger immigrants, known as “dreamers,” from being deported may have been dashed after President Trump’s administration released a list of hard-line crackdown on immigration.

In exchange for protecting hundreds of thousands of younger undocumented immigrants in the U.S., the administration said it wants funding for a border wall, a crackdown on Central American children and punishment for “sanctuary cities,” the Washington Post reports

Democratic leaders quickly rejected the Trump’s wish list.

“The administration can’t be serious about compromise or helping the Dreamers if they begin with a list that is anathema to the Dreamers, to the immigrant community and to the vast majority of Americans,” Schumer and Pelosi said in a joint statement Sunday evening. “We told the President at our meeting that we were open to reasonable border security measures … but this list goes so far beyond what is reasonable. This proposal fails to represent any attempt at compromise.”

The Post reported:

About 690,000 immigrants are enrolled in DACA, but their work permits are set to begin expiring in March. Trump had met last month with Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and agreed to try to strike a deal, worrying immigration hawks who feared that Trump would support a bill that would allow dreamers to gain full legal status without asking for significant border security measures in return.

The list released by the administration, however, would represent a major tightening of immigration laws. Cuts to legal immigration also are included. And, while Democrats have called for a path to citizenship for all dreamers, a group estimated at more than 1.5 million, a White House aide said Sunday night the administration is “not interested in granting a path to citizenship” in a deal to preserve the DACA program.

Justice Department Awards $37M to Address Backlog in Rape Kits

police tapeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department plans to use $37 million to help state, local and tribal governments address a backlog of sexual assault evidence that is preventing the capture  of violent offenders.

The grants are intended to help law enforcement reduce the backlog of sexual assault kits to help track down rapists, the Los Alamos Daily Post reports

“There is no greater injustice to a victim of sexual assault than a failure on the part of the system to exhaust its investigative possibilities,” said Alan Hanson, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs. “These awards will supply badly needed resources and manpower to our nation’s law enforcement agencies and prosecutors helping investigators and analysts do the urgent work of closing out cases and bringing answers to survivors.”

The Post wrote:

Administered through the National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, managed by the Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Assistance, 21 grant awards totaling more than $35 million were awarded to improve the processing of sexual assault kits and strengthen jurisdictions’ capacity to act on evidence resulting from kit processing. Those awards are available online at: https://www.bja.gov/funding/FY-2017-National-Sexual-Assault-Kit-Initiative-Funding-Awards.pdf 

Solving sex crimes and bringing perpetrators to justice requires a thorough understanding of the value of sexual assault evidence and a solid commitment to submitting sexual assault kits for testing. OJP’s resources help jurisdictions reduce their inventory of unsubmitted kits, bring offenders to justice, provide answers to victims and restore the safety of our communities.

The Sexual Assault Kit Initiative provides competitive grants for teams committed to reforming how their jurisdictions deal with cases of sexual assault. SAKI helps jurisdictions address the issues that lead to delayed testing of kits by providing funds to inventory, test and track sexual assault kits, as well as collect and submit DNA from suspects to the FBI’sCombined DNA Index System and hire crime analysts. The grants also support the investigation and prosecution of resulting cases and support the victims of sexual assault.

Other Stories of Interest

Retired FBI Agent: Set Up Threat Analysis Program for Gun Purchasers

screen-shot-2017-10-06-at-12-43-35-pm

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The mass shooting in Las Vegas has once again triggered cries for action to deal with rogue gun owners, particularly those who purchase an enormous amount of weapons and ammo in a short time.

A friend and retired FBI agent forwarded me an email the other day suggesting the government set up a threat analysis program for gun purchasers.

Here’s what he had to say:

There should be a risk management program that uses data bases with information about gun purchases. The program would identify key criteria that is a common thread in violent events: Number of weapons purchased by a single individual or by address or within a specified time period.

When those red flags are raised in the data base, the names of the purchasers would be turned over to the group that would conduct traces/searches and links to Federal cases and local incidents (not just reported crimes).

The group would develop a threshold to decide if the probe goes further. They would use social media searches, mental health agencies and interviews.

The arguments against creating such a group are overwhelming, cost being major.

Sure, it’s a needle in a haystack approach, but I am sure there are smarter folks than me who can scope the search to increase its worth.

The public relations sell would undoubtedly bump up against privacy concerns (Mental health & Constitutional rights) and the belief that we may miss some of the real culprits; criminals who don’t report gun purchases.

I understand that, but if current gun laws had the priority enforcement it deserves, straw purchasers and crooked gun dealers would start to dissipate, and maybe, just maybe,  you could identify some old fart with a screw loose and force him to rethink his plan to be remembered as an evil footnote in history.

Girlfriend of Las Vegas Shooter Was Worried about His Mental Health

Stephen Paddock

Stephen Paddock

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The girlfriend of Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock told investigators that she had no idea the 64-year-old was “planning violence against anyone.”

Marilou Danley, who was in the Philippines during the massacre in Las Vegas, said Paddock showed “mental health symptoms,” such as screaming in bed, two former FBI officials told the New York Daily News

Danley was interviewed for about four hours Wednesday. Her attorney, Matt Lombard, said Paddock wired her a large amount of money, which she thought was to buy a home, CBS News reports. She also thought he was about to break up with her. 

So far, investigators don’t know the motive behind the mass shooting, which killed 58 people at a country music festival.

British Spy Who Wrote Trump Dossier Interviewed by Mueller’s Team

Robert Mueller

Robert Mueller

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The former British spy who wrote the salacious dossier on Russia’s role in the presidential election met with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators over the summer, CNN reports

The dossier by Christopher Steele, a former MI-6 officer, helped spawn the investigation into Russia’s involvement in the presidential election.

While investigators have said in the past that they cannot confirm the validity of the dossier’s contents, they took it more seriously than they let on publicly.

CNN reported:

The intelligence agencies, particularly the CIA, and the FBI took Steele’s research seriously enough that they kept it out of a publicly-released January report on Russian meddling in the election in order to not divulge which parts of the dossier they had corroborated and how.

This contrasts with attempts by President Donald Trump and some lawmakers to discredit Steele and the memos he produced.

Ever since the dossier came to light in January, Trump and his allies have repeatedly insisted that it is a complete work of fiction. He told The New York Times this summer that the dossier “was totally made-up stuff.” In a series of tweets earlier this year, Trump said the memos were written by a “failed spy” who had relied on “totally made-up facts by sleazebag political operatives.”