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Archive for November, 2017

FBI Fails to Warn Scores of U.S. Officials Who Were Targeted by Russian Hack

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

As Russian hackers tried to hack into the personal Gmail accounts of dozens of U.S. officials, the FBI failed to provide a warning despite having at least a year’s worth of evidence that they were being targeted by the Kremlin.

Of nearly 80 Americans targeted by a Russian government-connected cyber-espionage group, Fancy Bear, only two officials were notified of the attack, the Associated Press has found

“It’s utterly confounding,” said Philip Reiner, a former senior director at the National Security Council, who was notified by the AP that he was targeted in 2015. “You’ve got to tell your people. You’ve got to protect your people.”

The FBI declined to discuss cyber campaign, but provided a statement: “The FBI routinely notifies individuals and organizations of potential threat information.”

Among those targeted were the former head of cybersecurity for the U.S. Air Force, a former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and an ex-director at the National Security Council.

The FBI knew about the hacking attempts for more than a year. A senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the number of attacks overwhelmed the bureau.

FBI: Background Checks for Guns Surge to Record High on Black Friday

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Black Friday continues to break records for the number of requests for background checks for gun purchases.

The bureau received 203,086 requests for background checks Friday, breaking the record of 185,713 in 2016 and 185,345 in 2015.

Anyone who wants to purchase a gun at a federally licensed dealer is required to undergo background checks.

The numbers come from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, a government database used for background checks on gun buyers.

The number of background checks have increased every year since the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in Connecticut.

Weekend Series on Crime History: ATF Agent Infiltrated Biker Gangs

FBI Allows Tens of Thousands of People with Outstanding Warrants to Buy Guns

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The names of tens of thousands of people wanted by police have been purged from the FBI criminal background check database this year after the FBI narrowed its legal interpretation of “fugitives from justice.”

In February, the FBI said only people who have crossed state lines are considered “fugitives from justice,” prompting the removal of tens of thousands of names, the Washington Post reports

That means fugitives under the old definition can now buy guns, unless they are barred for some other reason. In other words, people with outstanding warrants are now allowed to buy firearms.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he ordered the FBI and ATF to conduct a comprehensive review of the criminal background check database.

Other Stories of Interest

Judge Drops Child Pornography Case, Saying FBI Misrepresented Facts

Best Buy, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A judge dismissed child pornography charges against a California doctor whose computer was searched following a repair by Best Buy’s Geek Squad because the FBI agent made “several false or misleading statements or omissions... with reckless disregard for the truth” in a search warrant affidavit, The Washington Post reports

The pornography case was triggered by the Geek Squad’s discovery of a photo of a naked girl, believed to be 9 years old. She was not involved in a sex act, and her genitals were not shown.

Technicians tipped off the FBI.

But U.S.District Judge Cormac J. Carney said the FBI misrepresented the case in obtaining a search warrant for the home and computers of oncologist Mark Rettenmaier. Agents found hundreds of pornographic photos on his iPhone.

Carney concluded the search was illegal because FBI agents received the warrant by inaccurately saying “the image was child pornography.” The judge said the photo was “one image of child erotica” and that it “is simply not sufficient to search Dr. Rettenmaier’s entire home, the place where the protective court of the Fourth Amendment is most powerful.”

‘Big Trouble’ for Trump? Flynn’s Legal Team Stops Talking with President’s Lawyers

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Revelations that lawyers for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn have stopped communicating with President Trump’s legal team over the special counsel investigation is a good indication that he’s cooperating or negotiating a deal, legal experts said.

The New York Times first reported Thursday that Flynn’s lawyers have stopped sharing information with Trump’s attorneys about the investigation led by special counsel, Robert Mueller, whose legal team is trying to determine whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.

Flynn has been a top target of the investigation and resigned as national security adviser after acknowledging he had secretly discussed sanction with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

“I negotiated a cooperation deal for a target with Mueller’s office when he was U.S. Atty and lemme tell ya, he’s not gonna give one to Flynn unless he implicates someone up the ladder. That means Kushner, Don Jr., or Big Daddy,” Norm Eisner, a former White House Special Counsel for Ethics, tweeted.

The Washington Post wrote, “If Flynn is indeed cooperating, Trump is in big trouble.”

The Post continued:

That’s because if Flynn is cooperating, it can only be because he has information to offer Mueller on someone more important than himself. That’s how it works. And who is more important than Flynn? Only a very small number of people. Among those implicated in this whole affair, that group may consist of Jared Kushner and Trump, and that’s about it.

Which means we may be getting closer to answering a question I’ve been asking for a long time: Why was President Trump so intensely focused on protecting Michael Flynn?

You’ll recall that Flynn was supposedly fired because he lied to Vice President Pence about his contacts with Russian officials during the campaign and the transition, claiming he had only exchanged pleasantries with them when in fact they had discussed substantive policy matters, something Pence then repeated to the media. This was always an odd explanation for the firing. Even more odd was the fact that immediately, President Trump began telling anyone who would listen what a great guy Michael Flynn is and how unfair the whole mess was to him.

Memorial Services Set for Border Patrol Agent in Mysterious Death in Texas

Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez was found dead at the bottom of a ravine in west Texas.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

While authorities investigate the mysterious death of a Border Patrol agent in Texas, his family, friends and colleagues are preparing for the 36-year-old’s memorial service. 

Angelo Rogelio “Roger” Martinez, who was responding to a triggered sensor on Sunday night in west Texas, was found with “traumatic head injuries” and broken bones. He died early Sunday from head injuries.

His partner, who has not been identified, also was found with head injuries and was in critical condition. They were found at the bottom of a ravine.

The union representing Border Patrol officers insist the agents were attacked with rocks, but the FBI is not so sure.

In the meantime, Martinez’s family is struggling to make sense of what happened.

“I loved him, and I miss him,” Elvia Martinez told CNN.

Visitation services are scheduled for today at from 5-9 p.m. local time at Martin Funeral Home in El Paso, followed by a vigil at 7 p.m. The funeral is set for Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church.

Most of Homeland Security’s Uniforms Are Bought Outside U.S., Including South of Border

Border Patrol agent makes an arrest. Photo via Border Patrol.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

So much for Made in America.

A report by the Government Accountability Office found that Homeland Security bought 46% of its uniforms from Mexico and Central America, compared to just 42% in the U.S., the Washington Times reports

Homeland Security spent nearly $75 million over the past three years on department uniforms from Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras.

Under Homeland Security rules, the agency is supposed to buy uniforms that originated in the U.S.

The GAO said Homeland Security was aware of the requirements but ignored them.

“As of June 2017, under the current uniforms contract, 58 percent of the value of ordered uniform items by DHS came from foreign sources,” the investigation found.

Other Stories of Interest