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Archive for April, 2018

Weekend Series on Crime History: Philly’s Godfather, Little Nicky Scarfo

FBI’s Top Congressional Liaison Quietly Steps Down for Private Sector Job

Greg Bower, FBI’s former top liaison for Congress during probe of Russia.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The FBI’s top liaison on Capitol Hill quietly left his job on March 30.

Greg Brower, an FBI assistant director who ran the bureau’s Office of Congressional Affairs, began a new job this week as a shareholder in the litigation department of the Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck law firm.

Then-FBI Director James Comey, who was fired by President Trump’s administration last year, made Brower, a senior lawyer, his deputy counsel and later a congressional liaison.

Brower said his departure had nothing to do with Comey’s firing or the most recent termination of the former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

“No circumstances, other than I had just accepted an offer from Brownstein some weeks earlier, so I happened to make the transition this week,” Brower told BuzzFeed News. “I think Chris Wray’s doing an outstanding job, and I have an excellent working relationship with Chris, but I couldn’t pass up the offer.”

Other Stories of Interest

Celebrated Civil Rights Photographer Doubled As a Secret FBI Informant

Ernest Withers

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Photographer Ernest Withers won over the trust of civil rights leaders, capturing some of the most iconic images of the civil rights era.

He snapped some of the storied photos from the time – Martin Luther King Jr. riding on one of the first integrated buses in Montgomery, the Little Rock school integration showdown and the dramatic moment in a Mississippi court room when Emmett Till’s great uncle pointed an accusing finger at the abductor of his great-nephew.

His presence was so ubiquitous and his photos so powerful that he won the trust of civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, who considered Withers a friend.

But the beloved photographer wasn’t just recording history. He was an FBI informant who shared a plethora of inside information to the bureau that had surveilled King Jr. for years.

Withers’ double life was exposed in 2010 by dogged Memphis reporter Marc Perrusquia, who exposed the photographer’s double life in the pages of the Commercial Appeal. But the story raised more questions than it answered because the FBI declined to turn over once-classified documents.

Perrusquia sued the FBI and won, giving him thousands of records that confirmed Perrusquia was a very active informant who provided inside information from 1958 to 1976.

Just short of the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination this week, Perrusquia published a 344-page hardcover book about Withers’ double life – “How the FBI Used a Famous Photographer to Infiltrate the Civil Rights Movement.”

Perrusquia recently explained his motive to write the book during an interview with the Tennesseean newspaper:  One of the main things I want people to understand is that I’m not trying to erode Ernest Wither’s place in history as a legitimate Civil Rights figure. I’m just trying to cast a light on this hidden history that wasn’t known before. The stuff that Withers did for the FBI does not eclipse what he did for the movement, but it does rival it. His story is instructive to readers who want to learn from history. These government operations were very corrosive to our democracy. This story provides a good lesson for this country going forward — freedom of speech, the right to protest — these are cherished American values that we don’t want eroded because views are either unpopular or considered dangerous.

Pro-Trump Militiamen on Trial in Plot to Blow Up Muslims in Kansas Apartment

Curtis Allen (left), Gavin Wright (center) and Patrick Stein (right).

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Patrick Stein, a right-wing militia member who thought Trump was “the Man” and Muslims were “cockroaches” that needed to be exterminated, met what he thought was a weapons dealer in a remote field in western Kansas.

“I’m sick of seeing these motherfuckers coming into this country,” Stein told the man, referring to Muslim refugees, Huffington post reports. “They’re here for one reason and one reason only.”

It was about a month before Donald Trump was elected president, and Stein had no idea he was actually meeting with an undercover FBI agent.

A few days later, the FBI arrested Stein, who was charged with a litany of federal offenses, including plotting to kill Somali refugees who lived in an apartment complex in nearby Garden City.

Since then, 18 months have passed, and Stein and his allege co-conspirators Gavin Wright and Curtis Allen are on the third week of a trial in Wichita.

While Stein met with the undercover agent in search of a weapon manufacturer, the co-conspirators did not demonstrate they were serious about the plot, their defense attorneys said.

Trump Pledges to Deploy National Guard Troops in Not-So Unprecedented Move

Distant border fence in the desert near El Paso and its Mexican neighbor Juarez.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump boldly signed a proclamation Wednesday directing National Guard troops to the southwest border in what he falsely called an unprecedented move to crackdown on undocumented immigrants.

President Barack Obama deployed 1,200 members of the National Guard to the border in 2010, President George W. Bush’s decision in 2010 to send up to 6,000 National Guard members to increase military presence at the border in a two-year operation dubbed “Jump Start.”

Under the previous presidents’ plans, the guard members built infrastructure and conducted surveillance but left the arrests and enforcement up to Border Patrol agents who were trained in border enforcements.

Trumps plans, which lacks details about the operation, would not allow troops to come into physical contact with immigrants, three administration officials told NBC News

Homeland Security announced the policy in a statement Wednesday afternoon that read, “To secure the border and make America safe, we need to deploy the National Guard. Deploying the National Guard will serve as an immediate deterrent while dramatically enhancing operational control of the U.S. border.”

The statement added the troops would “support federal law enforcement personnel … and that federal migration authorities “will direct enforcement efforts.”

Trump’s announcement, which caught some of his advisers by surprise, pledged Tuesday, Until we can have a wall and proper security, we are going to be guarding our border with the military.” 

Details like the number of troops to be involved and how long they will stay there remain unknown and are expected to be hammered out in the coming days, officials said.

Former Head FBI’s Minneapolis Division Running for Governor in Kansas

Michael Tabman, retired special agent in charge of the FBI’s Minneapolis division.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Michael Tabman, the former special agent in charge of the FBI’s Minneapolis division, is running for governor in Kansas.

The agent-turned-security consultant is among more than 20 candidates vying for the governor’s seat.

Since retiring from the bureau in 2007 after 24 years of service, Tabman has lived in Johnson County in Kansas with his wife and children and wants to give back.

“As Governor, I want to restore all that makes Kansas such a wonderful place to live,” the New York native said on his campaign website.

Tabman said his priorities are improving and protecting schools, reducing health care costs and protecting civil liberties.

No stranger to violence, Tabman advocates more stringent regulations on “weapons of mass murder” but still supports the right to own a firearm.

In 2005, Tabman was the special agent in charge of the mass shooting at a Native American reservation in Minneapolis known as the “Red Lake Massacre.”

After Tabman retired, he sued the FBI, claiming the bureau smeared his character and denied him promotions because of false allegations that he mishandled a complaint against Special Agent Harry Samit. 

A judge dismissed the suit.

That Time the FBI Urged Martin Luther King Jr. to Kill Himself

Martin Luther King Jr.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Today is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968. 

When Martin Luther King Jr. was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for nonviolent resistance in October 1964, the FBI was furious. 

Under the leadership of the bureau’s notorious director, J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI had spent nearly a decade keeping the civil rights leader under surveillance, convinced he was a Communist – or at least a national security threat. Agents recorded thousands of memos on the minister’s movements and interactions and even bugged his home, office and hotel rooms.

But they found nothing illegal or even dangerous.

Former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover

Infamously obstinate and relentless, Hoover was determined to discredit the 35-year-old leader, especially after he won the Nobel Peace Prize and earned international acclaim.

While King prepared for his trip to Oslo to receive the award, Hoover denounced the Georgia-born minister as “the most notorious liar in the country” during a press conference in Washington D.C. in November 1964.

A few days later, the smear campaign escalated, marking one of the darkest chapter’s in the FBI’s history. One of Hoover’s deputies, William Sullivan, typed an anonymous, harshly worded letter to King that later would come to be known as the “suicide letter.”

Since Sullivan had nothing illegal on King, the letter focused on his extramarital sexual liaisons, which were captured on FBI surveillance. 

The anonymous author calls King a “filthy, abnormal animal”and an “evil, abnormal beast” and pledges to expose the extramarital affairs “with your filthy, dirty, evil companions.”

The letter suggests there are recordings of “all your dirt, filth, evil and moronic talk.”

“You are done,” the letter declares. “Your ‘honorary degrees,’ your Nobel Prize (what a grim farce) and other awards will not save you. King, I repeat you are done.”

The letter is crafted to give the impression it was written by someone within the civil rights movement, making a reference to “us Negroes.”

King quietly told friends that someone wanted him to kill himself.

The letter proceeds in what is an apparent reference to suicide, “King, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. … There is but only one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation.”

King wasn’t fooled by the misdirected writing. He was certain the FBI had written it, the New York Times reported. 

King’s suspicious were confirmed by the Senate’s Church Committee in 1975.

“Rather than trying to discredit the alleged Communists it believed were attempting to influence Dr. King, the Bureau adopted a curious tactic of trying to discredit the supposed target of Communist Party interest — Dr. King himself,” the committee concluded in a report.

King was killed by a sniper in 1968.

Mueller to Trump: You’re Not Target of Probe But You’re Under Investigation

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller assured President Trump’s attorneys last month that he was not the target of the ongoing, 11-month probe involving Russia but he indicated prosecutors continued to investigate him.

Mueller also told Trump’s attorneys that the president needed to be interviewed to determine whether he broke the law, The Washington Post first reported. Trump’s legal tea has resisted interviews so far, though the president has said he “looks forward” to sitting down with Mueller under oath. 

The Post also revealed that Mueller is preparing a report on whether Trump is suspected of colluding with Russia to meddle in the election or if he obstructed justice.

Trump continues to insist he is the victim of a “witch hunt” led by rogue leaders in the FBI and Justice Department.

Some legal and political observers say Mueller may be trying to lure Trump into an interview by raising his hopes that he won’t be charged.