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Archive for December, 2017

FBI Agents Strike Back Against Trump’s Attacks on Bureau

FBI photo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Active and retired FBI agents are not shying away from President Trump’s continuing rhetoric that the bureau’s “reputation is in tatters.”

“Attacks on our character and demeaning comments will not deter Agents from continuing to do what we have always done—dedicate our lives to protecting the American people,” the FBI Agents Association, FBIAA, said in a statement on Tuesday, without mentioning Trump by name, Fortune reports.

On Dec. 3, Trump tweeted about the FBI: “After years of Comey, with the phony and dishonest Clinton investigation (and more), running the FBI, its reputation is in Tatters – worst in History! But fear not, we will bring it back to greatness.”

The FBI Agents Association listed hundreds of cases that have been solved by hard-working agents to make the country safer.

“Controversies of the day fade, but the sworn duty of Special Agent endures,” the statement reads. “Special Agents are focused on the Constitution and protecting the public. Their works should be recognized, not denigrated.”

No Breaks for Pa. Man Who Threatened to Kill FBI Agents & Rape One’s Wife, Daughter

Justin M. Credico

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Pennsylvania man sentenced to 70 years in prison for threatening to kill FBI agents and rape one of their wives and daughters was denied a request for a reduced sentence.

Justin M. Credico, 36, was urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit to approve his appeal of his convictions and prison sentence, PennLive.com reports

The judges said Credico provided no good reason to overturn the original penalty.

In 2008, the West Chester man began making harassing phone calls to the FBI’s Philadelphia office until about mid-2014. The recipient of many of the calls was an agent who Credico blamed for being expelled from West Chester University.

Credico was busted making death and rape threats to an agent who recorded the messages on a tape recorder.

FBI Arrests Border Patrol Agent on Child Pornography Charges

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Border Patrol agent was charged Wednesday with producing and sharing child pornography.

FBI agents arrested Border Patrol Agent Paul Casey Whipple at his Hondo, Tex., home Tuesday night, News4SA.com reports

A foreign law enforcement agency alerted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to several file of an underage girl engaging in sexually explicit behaviors.

The FBI was able to track down the videos to Hondo between 2015 and November of this year.

“The kids are bait, and it’s very lucrative and common that adults are seeing kids as sexual objects, and we just need to stop that because it’s not okay,” said Dottie Laster with the Heidi Search Center.

According to a criminal complaint, Whipple admitted he produced the videos and shared them online.

Border Patrol Agent’s Death Remains a Mystery a Month Later

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

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The troubling, mysterious death of a Border Patrol agent and the serious injuries of his partner have remained unsolved a month after Agent Rogelio “Roger” Martinez was found dead near Van Horn, Texas.

Martinez’s fiancée Angela Ochoa believes the best source of information on what happened may be the survive agent, Stephen “Michael” Garland. Trouble is, Garland has told investigators he can’t remember what happened.

“I mean, I know he saw something,” Ochoa told CNN. “I know he knows. But what he knows, I can’t tell you. I don’t know.” 

President Trump and the agents’ union quickly blamed violent, undocumented immigrants, saying they struck the agents with rocks.

But the FBI and local authorities have not found evidence of an attack and believe the agents may have fallen accidentally into a ravine.

Right-Wing Suggests FBI Is Planning to Dethrone Trump

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The campaign to discredit the special counsel investigation into potential ties between Donald Trump’s presidency and Russia has intensified as the probe reaches the president’s inner circle.

While some Republican lawmakers are questioning whether Mueller’s team has a bias against Trump, far-right pundits and Fox News are suggesting something far more sinister and violent.

On Tuesday, Fox News contributor Kevin Jackson suggested Trump may be assassinated by the FBI, pointing to text messages in which FBI agent Peter Stzrok complained about Trump and mentioned an “insurance policy” against his presidency.

A day earlier, right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones warned his listeners that he believes secret operatives tied to the Clintons, the FBI and other federal agencies plan to soon attempt to murder Trump.

Judge Rules Against FBI in Reporter-Impersonation Case

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI incensed news organizations after reporters discovered the bureau used special agents to impersonate a journalist to help capture a suspect in a string of anonymous bomb threats in 2007. 

Saying the impersonation “endangers the media’s credibility and creates the appearance that it is not independent of the government,” two media groups sued the FBI for records to show how often the bureau had masqueraded as news organizations. 

The FBI responded that it had no such records.

But last week, a D.C. Circuit Court ruled that the FBI failed to adequately search and locate documents related to the practice of using undercover agents to pose as journalists to go after suspects, Courthouse News reports

Courthouse News writes:

Two media groups brought the underlying challenge based on reports about how the FBI apprehended an individual who in 2007 made a series anonymous bomb threats to a Seattle high school, causing near-daily evacuations of students, teachers and administrators.

Believing the threats were the handiwork of a narcissist, the FBI agents investigating the matter devised a plan: They would flatter the culprit into clicking a link that appeared to be press coverage suggesting he’d outsmarted the authorities.

When he did, a specialized malware would be secretly delivered to his computer and it would reveal his location. The plan worked and the individual calling in the bomb threats was arrested.

A technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union spotted the FBI’s ruse several years later while reviewing documents from an earlier records request. News of the media-impersonation tactics quickly made national headlines. The New York Times even printed a letter in justification of the ruse from FBI Director James Comey Jr.

In the wake of the controversy, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and Associated Press filed three FOIA requests for documents on the FBI’s impersonation of journalists and creation of “fake news” in the course of investigations.

Trump, Attorneys Are Optimistic Mueller Will Exonerate President

President Trump, via White House

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Just days before meeting with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office later this week, Trump’s attorneys are reportedly optimistic that the president is on the verge of being exonerated.

CNN reports that Trump has been boasting to friends and advisers that he expects to soon be cleared of any wrongdoing, according to people close to the president.

But legal analysts and media reports indicate the special counsel investigation into ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia is escalating.

The ever-evolving probe has so far netted charges against four of Trump’s close allies: former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former campaign adviser and Manafort associate Rick Gates, early foreign-policy adviser George Papadopoulos, and former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

It’s unclear why the White House is so optimistic.

The Washington Post, citing people familiar with the investigation, reports that the investigation could take another year, pointing out that the team is still cooperating with witnesses and requested documents related to the probe. 

Tough on Border Rhetoric, Trump Leaves Top Homeland Security Posts Vacant

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke (left) with President Trump, via Homeland Security.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump talks big abound securing the nation’s borders and thwarting terrorist attacks, yet he’s left dozens of top Homeland Security jobs unfilled since taking office in January, “hallowing out the massive agency,” Quartz reports

In Trump’s first 11 months as president, he’s left numerous vacant positions, from the department’s chief of staff to every leadership position in its “Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction” office.

After former DHS head John Kelly vacated his position to become the White House chief of staff in July, acting secretary Elaine Duke has recommended people for top positions, but they have been rejected or ignored by the White House.

Neither DHS nor the White House would comment.