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Archive for October, 2019

Trump’s Search for Fifth Homeland Security Secretary Hits Snag

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s search for a fifth Homeland Security secretary in less than three years just hit a major snag.

Two of his purported top picks are ineligible by a federal law governing agency succession, White House officials told Trump, according to reports in Politico and The Wall Street Journal.

Trump was gunning for Mark Morgan, acting CBP commissioner, or Ken Cuccinelli, acting head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Immigration hawks have endorsed Cuccinelli.

White House officials gave Trump a list of other potential candidates who could take over as DHS head after acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan leaves at the end of the month. Among the names are DHS Assistant Secretary Chad Wolf, a former chief of staff of ousted DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and Transportation Security Administration chief David Pekoske.

Trump has been considering Wolf to be acting secretary, Politico reports. But Wolf’s position on immigration has been considered weak.

Leading Homeland Security has been no easy task because Trump has demanded a secretary whose focus is clearly on immigration, which is only one part of the multi-faceted agency.

Suburban Detroit Parents Blame FBI for Their Son’s Death in Ukraine

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — The life and death tale of Billy Reilly is gut-wrenching. It involves his counterterrorism work online for Detroit FBI agents, penetrating radical groups under false names, and a three-year, worldwide odyssey by Oakland County parents in search of their missing son.

Wall Street Journal reporter Brett Forrest chronicles his movie-like saga. Through laborious investigative reporting and fingerprint identification, he finds that Reilly had been murdered in the Ukraine in 2015 at age 28.

The FBI insists he was not there on a bureau assignment or suggestion. William and Theresa Reilly, the parents living in Oxford, aren’t so sure.

“The FBI never directed William Reilly to travel overseas to perform any work for the FBI,” Brian P. Hale of bureau headquarters in Washington responded.


(Photo: FBI)

The Journal’s lengthy Oct. 11 story raises many questions about what the FBI knew. The agency had asked the Reillys to talk the paper out of publishing it.

Oakland University graduate

The saga began when Reilly was attending a Catholic high school after Sept. 11, 2001 and took an interest in  in Islam and the koran. Reilly went on to get a biology degree from Oakland University.

In 2010, when he was 23, the FBI came to the family house, the Journal reports. An agent said U.S. forces had raided an Al Qaeda position and found communcations from an IP address traced to the Reilly home.

Billy explained to the FBI he had found his way into restricted jihadist chat rooms. During their conversation, the agent asked Billy, who had knowledge of Arabic, if he had any interest in working with the FBI.

He said yes and became a part-timer or paid “source” for the bureau, working undercover online to unearth counterterrorism information. Forrest, the journalist, points out that sources work in a dangerous world, with little training and no government benefits “beyond an occasional paycheck and a pat on the back.”

Read more »

DOJ: Trump Jr., McGahn Did Not Testify Before Grand Jury in Mueller Probe

Donald Trump Jr., via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department confirmed Sunday that former White House counsel Don McGahn and President Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., never testified before a federal grand jury during the Robert Mueller probe.

The details were revealed as part of an ongoing court battle between the House of Representatives and the Justice Department.

“Don McGahn did not testify before the grand jury. Indeed, none of the witnesses for whom the Committee requested FBI Interview Reports in Volume II of the Mueller Report, testified before the grand jury, with the exceptions of [redacted],” the DOJ notice states, The Hill reports. “Donald Trump, Jr. also did not testify before the grand jury.” ry

Details of why McGahn and Trump Jr. didn’t testify are still unclear. The Mueller report indicated Trump Jr. declined a voluntary interview.

McGahn agreed to private interviews, which played a major role in Mueller’s report.

FBI Determines American Deaths in Dominican Republic Were Not Tied to Poisoned Alcohol

Dominican Republic by Alexrk.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A rash of American deaths in the Dominican Republican has stirred fears that tourists were being poisoned by alcohol.

But a recent FBI investigation has bolstered Dominican Republic authorities’ findings that the deaths were from natural causes, not foul play.

The FBI conducted toxicology tests for three cases that were initially considered suspicious by family members, and the results ruled out methanol poisoning from alcohol, The Hill reports.

“Toxicology test results to date have been provided by the FBI to Dominican authorities, and family members of the deceased have been informed,” a State Department spokesperson told The Hill in a statement. “The results of the additional, extensive toxicology testing completed to date have been consistent with the findings of local authorities. Our condolences and sympathy go out to the families during this difficult time. Methanol poisoning from tainted alcohol was ruled out by the FBI in these cases during the toxicology screening, and it was not the finding in any other cases of U.S. citizen deaths investigated by Dominican authorities.”

Because some of the victims died after drinking alcohol, families became suspicious that the alcohol was poisoned.

The State Department and Dominican Republic have both said the number of American deaths in the country – 13 in 2018 –were not occurring at an unusual rate.

Weekend Series on Crime History: An Interview With Jimmy Hoffa

Former ICE Agent Pleads Guilty to Impersonating Immigration Official to Free Man from Jail

Andrew J. Pleviak

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A former ICE agent accused of trying to help an inmate escape from a Kansas jail by impersonating an immigration officer has pleaded guilty.

Andrew J. Pleviak, 42, is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 20 after pleading guilty in Kingman County District Court on Wednesday to making false information and attempted aiding escape to another in custody.

Pleviak also was indicted by a grand jury last week on one count of false impersonation of a federal officer, prosecutors said in a news release.

Pleviak falsely claimed he was an ICE supervisor in a failed attempt to get jail officials to release Juan Diego Tapia-Alfaro, who was arrested Aug. 2 for allegedly obtaining a driver’s license fraudulently.

Pleviak faces up to three years in federal prison on the additional charge.

Time to Finally Confirm Trump’s Pick to Lead ATF, Say Top Law Enforcement Organizations

Chuck Canterbury

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s pick to lead the ATF has been derailed by Republicans who are uneasy about position on gun control.

Five months ago, Trump nominated of Chuck Canterbury, leader of the national Fraternal Order of Police, to head the ATF, which has been without a permanent leader since 2015. Without someone at the top of the ATF, many officials are worried the agency will lack stability and operational effectiveness.

It’s time for the Senate to confirm Canterbury as head of the ATF, according to a Hill column written by leaders of the Fraternal Order of Police, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers’ Association and the National Sheriffs Association.

“This lack of permanent leadership compromises the effectiveness of the ATF’s law enforcement mission,” they wrote. “We need Chuck Canterbury as director of the ATF and we strongly believe he should be expeditiously confirmed.”

The authors say there’s no doubt that Canterbury respects Americans’ Second Amendment rights.

“Canterbury is a proud supporter of the Second Amendment; everyone knows this,” they wrote. “We also know that Chuck is a cop’s cop with a reverence for the rule of law. If confirmed, he will enforce the laws written by Congress because that will be his job. If you know Chuck Canterbury, then you know he gets the job done. We have every confidence in him, and we urge the Senate in the strongest possible terms to confirm this excellent and highly qualified nominee.”

Read the entire column here.

CBP Considers Affixing Body Cams to Some Border Patrol Agents

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Some Border Patrol agents may soon be wearing body cameras to record their interactions with the public.

CBP is looking for body cameras for agents who work at checkpoints and ports near the border, which often are in remote areas without telecommunications and other basic technology.

CBP on Wednesday posted a request for information for body cams, video-management systems and cloud storage.

“CBP anticipates storing most footage in CBP-owned data servers, but is also interested in cloud storage for evidentiary footage requiring long-term retention—defined as longer than two years,” the request for information states. “Footage stored will be secure, law enforcement sensitive data and should comply with all relevant federal laws, regulations and requirements. CBP also anticipates its users will require a cloud storage platform for frequently accessed files.”

CBP is asking for bids by Oct. 31.