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Archive for December, 2019

Stejskal: Deep State? These People Are American Patriots

The writer, an FBI agent for 31 years, retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office in 2006.

By Greg Stejskal
On March 10, 1975, I reported to the Department of Justice Building in Washington, D.C. — “Main Justice” — to be sworn in as a FBI special agent with my fellow new agents. In a large room that was used for the secret trial of the Nazi saboteurs during World War II, I raised my right hand and took the oath that every agent takes:

“I (my name) do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

The Constitution prescribes a similar oath for the president in Article II.

Unlike those Nazi saboteurs who swore an oath to the Fuhrer, we swore allegiance to the concept that we are a country of laws, and no man is above the law. We would not be taking an oath of fealty to anyone. In fact during the Revolution, those serving in the Continental Army not only pledged allegiance to the United States, but specifically denounced any allegiance to King George III.

Featured_nazi_saboteur_trial_39315
Trial of Nazi saboteurs during World War II.

For me what followed was an almost 32-year career investigating and prosecuting violations of federal laws. I had the good fortune to be involved in a number of high-profile cases, and it was a rewarding career.

So when I watched the recent impeachment hearing, I had a somewhat unique perspective.

Most people didn’t have the time to watch the hearings. Others  prejudged them as a hoax or a witch hunt.

Being retired, I did have time and tried to view the hearings objectively. (Full disclosure: I’m a lifelong Republican.)

I’m not going to recount the evidence or try to make a case for or against impeachment although I thought the evidence was compelling and creditable. But what especially troubled me were the personal attacks on the witnesses by the president. Most of the witnesses were career foreign service officers. All of whom took an oath to support and defend the Constitution.

No right to publicly disparage

Greg Stejskal

The third public witness was Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine and a career foreign service officer. She was removed as ambassador by President Trump. In the now infamous, “perfect,” July 25 call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump characterized Ambassador Yovanovitch as “bad news.”

Whilee Yonanovitch was testifying Nov. 15 at the congressional hearing on national TV, President Trump tweeted:

“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second call with him. It is a US President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors.”

It is the president’s “absolute right” to appoint and/or remove an ambassador, but I don’t believe the president has any kind of right to publicly disparage a career foreign service officer with an outstanding reputation and stellar career. Leaving aside the issue of whether his tweet constituted witness intimidation.

On Nov. 19, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Jennifer Williams testified. Jennifer Williams is a veteran State Department official who has served as a special advisor to Vice President Mike Pence on European and Russian affairs.

Before her testimony, President Trump again took to twitter saying, she [Williams] should read the transcripts of the July 25 call and another one that took place in April. “Then she should meet with the other Never Trumpers, who I don’t know and mostly never even heard of and work out a better presidential attack!”

Read more »

Black FBI Agents Reflect on Bureau’s Diversity on 100th Anniversary of First Black Special Agent

Nicole Dunn, a special agent in the FBI’s Houston Field Office.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

James Wormley Jones made history when he became the first black FBI agent on Dec. 2, 1919 – 100 years ago.

To celebrate the role that black agents have played since then, the FBI spoke to current and former African American agents.

The stories of Jones and other African Americans who broke the bureau’s color line has inspired many current agents.

“I stand on the shoulders of a great group of men and women who persevered through a lot,” said Nicole Dunn, a special agent in the FBI’s Houston Field Office. “Their accomplishments are what make it possible for me to sit here today.”

While there has been tremendous progress, much more is needed. African Americans make up less than 5% of the FBI’s 13,000 special agents.

Michael Mason, who led the FBI’s field offices in Washington, D.C. and Sacramento before leading the bureau’s Criminal Investigative Division, said he encourages young people of color to consider joining the FBI.

“At the end of the day, if we’re going to want this country to be a safe place, an inclusive place, a place that respects civil rights and the legislation that was passed in 1968, then we have to be part of that,” Mason said. “You can’t be a spectator and say, ‘OK, when the attitude and the environment gets rights and receptive and embraces me, then I’ll come in.’ No, you’ve got to come in and make it that kind of environment.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray said the bureau is boosting its recruiting efforts to add more diversity.

“We’re working to change this,” Wray said, adding more African Americans are joining the training academy.

Click here to hear interviews with current and former FBI agents.

Rod Rosenstein Was ‘Angry, Ashamed, Horrified’ by Trump’s Abrupt Firing of Comey

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told the FBI he was “angry, ashamed, horrified and embarrassed” about the abrupt firing of then-FBI Director James Comey, according to the latest release of documents related to the Robert Mueller investigation.

The documents shed more light on Rosenstein, who called for a special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, since his boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, had recused himself.

Rosenstein said he met with White House officials on May 8, 2017, and came under the impression that Comey was going to be fired. Rosenstein was told to write a memo criticizing the FBI director.

That day, Rosenstein wrote a memo outlining Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

Mueller report, via Buzzfeed.

Expecting that he or Sessions would be tasked with firing Comey, Rosenstein asked to speak with Comey the next day. But he quickly discovered that Comey had been fired via email.

He told the FBI that he was surprised that media accounts of the firing claimed it was Rosenstein’s idea to terminate the FBI director.

Rosenstein said he was asked to attend a press conference about Comey’s firing, but he refused, telling a Justice Department spokeswoman that he “cannot participate in putting out a false story.”

A few days later, Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel, a decision that made Trump “angry, surprised, and frustrated,” according to Hope Hicks, one of the president’s closest aides.

CBP Specialist Charged with Murdering Wife, Who Also Worked at Agency

Dudley Bernard

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A Customs and Border Protection officer has been charged with murder after police say he shot his wife, also a CBP employee, at their Texas home on Thanksgiving night.

Dudley Bernard, 40, was arrested in his front yard after police responded to reports of gunshots at the League City house just after 11 p.m.

Police said Chauntelle Bernard, 42, was found dead at the front door of the home.

Dudley Bernard was an agriculture specialist who oversaw the Houston Seaport environment. Chauntelle Bernard was a supervisor CBP officer in Houston, according to a CBP statement.

“No words can express the sense of loss SCBPO Bernard’s death brings to her colleagues and friends in CBP,” a CBP spokesperson said.

Former FBI Lawyer Lisa Page Breaks Silence Following Trump’s Repeated Ridicule

Lisa Page, via social media.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Former FBI attorney Lisa Page says she’s “done being quiet.”

Page had been silent since she made national headlines two years ago over anti-Trump texts she exchanged with Peter Strzok, the former head of counterintelligence with whom she had been having an affair.

The 39-year-old, who left the FBI in May 2018, broke her silence in a wide-ranging interview with the Daily Beast.

“I had stayed quiet for years hoping it would fade away, but instead it got worse,” Page said. “It had been so hard not to defend myself, to let people who hate me control the narrative. I decided to take my power back.”

Page said she decided to speak out after Trump repeatedly mocked her in tweets and at a campaign rally in Minneapolis in October, when the president read Page’s texts messages with Strzok in a degrading tone.

“Honestly, his demeaning fake orgasm was really the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Page said.

Page described Trump’s mocking as “sickening.”

“It’s like being punched in the gut. My heart drops to my stomach when I realize he has tweeted about me again,” she said. “The president of the United States is calling me names to the entire world. He’s demeaning me and my career. It’s sickening.”

Page said the ridicule has changed her life.

“Like, when somebody makes eye contact with me on the Metro, I kind of wince, wondering if it’s because they recognize me, or are they just scanning the train like people do? It’s immediately a question of friend or foe?” she said.

“Or if I’m walking down the street or shopping and there’s somebody wearing Trump gear or a MAGA hat, I’ll walk the other way or try to put some distance between us because I’m not looking for conflict. Really, what I wanted most in this world is my life back.”

ATF’s Scott Sweetow Retires as Acting Director of the Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center

Scott Sweetow

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Scott Sweetow, the acting director of the Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center (TEDAC), retired Saturday after more than 29 years as a special agent with ATF.

Sweetow says he plans to run a private consulting firm based in Alabama specializing in explosives related counterterrorism and helping multinational companies identify terrorism indicators and pre-attack indicators.

“I will also be making myself available as an on air or print for media to comment on events in my wheelhouse, ” he tells ticklethewire.com.

Additionally, he’ll be doing international training for the State Department’s Global Anti-Terrorism Assistance  program overseas.

Sweetow, a long-serving senior executive with ATF and a former deputy assistant director for intelligence and special agent in charge, became the deputy director of TEDAC in January 2016, and became its acting director in May 2019.

It was the first time that the FBI, who leads the TEDAC, ever had an ATF senior executive assume such a long-term key leadership role.

Sweetow started with ATF in 1990 in Los Angeles and spent several years working in the Arson and Explosives group. He served as a Certified Explosives Specialist. And he was part of ATF’s National Response Team, which investigated high-profile crimes including the Oklahoma City bombing and the Centennial Olympic Park bombings.

TEDAC’s mission is to exploit IED information and material to produce actionable intelligence to protect the United States and its international partners from terrorist attacks, according to the FBI. TEDAC is part of the FBI Laboratory system, and operates primarily from its headquarters in Huntsville, Ala., as part of the FBI’s continuing expansion in the area.

The replacement director of TEDAC, an FBI senior executive, will be report in the coming days.  Sweetow’s ATF replacement is expected to report in early 2020.