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Archive for February, 2020

Trump Administration Shrouds CBP in Secrecy by Changing Its Designation to ‘Security Agency’

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Trump administration has changed CBP’s designation to make it a “security agency,” a move that shrouds the agency in secrecy.

An internal memo signed by CBP’s Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan revealed the change in designation, which became effective Jan. 31, The Nation reports.

With added layers of secrecy, CBP has the same designation as agencies like the FBI and Secret Service.

The change allows CBP to exempt key records from being disclosed to the public.

“I am pleased to announce CBP has been designated as a Security Agency under Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) official Data Release Policy, effective immediately,” the memo states. “Previously, only frontline law enforcement, investigative, or intelligence positions held this designation. This policy change now protects all CBP employee names from subsequent responses to Freedom of Information Act requests or other public disclosures for CGP employee data.”

Government transparency advocates warned that the change would make the agency less transparent at a time when it has come under intense public scrutiny.

“It puts their employees in the same category as FBI agents,” Irvin McCullough, national security analyst with the Government Accountability Project said. “The problems we’ve seen out of our immigration agencies over the past few years show that we need more transparency, not less. Why is there such a rush to restrict this information from the public? Given their track record, the burden is on them to explain exactly why they need these restrictions.”

Brian Hastings Named Chief Border Patrol Agent of Rio Grande Valley Sector

Brian Hastings, the new chief Border Patrol agent of the Rio Grande Valley Sector.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Brian Hastings has been named the new chief Border Patrol agent of the Rio Grande Valley Sector, CBP announced Wednesday.

Hastings has plenty of experience in executive leadership positions. Most recently, he oversaw daily law enforcement operations at all Border Patrol sectors as chief of the Law Enforcement Operations Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington D.C.

A 25-year veteran of the agency, Hastings will be tasked with leading a sector that saw a record number of undocumented immigrant apprehensions.

“Supporting the men and women of the RGV Sector, all of whom accomplished amazing things to secure this nation during a time of an unprecedented crisis, is my priority,” Hastings said in a news release. “RGV agents have been at the epicenter of the crisis throughout and they performed those duties in an outstanding manner.”

Hastings added, “I am committed to doing everything I can to strengthen the already incredible partnerships that my predecessors, current leaders, and agents have formed in the Rio Grande Valley.”

The RGV Sector secures 277 miles of rivers and 316 coastal miles across 34 countries.

FBI Director Wray Pledges to Fix Flaws Found in FISA Court Applications

FBI Director Christopher Wray testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

FBI Director Christopher Wray pledged Wednesday to fix the flaws found in the bureau’s applications for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA).

Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, Wray addressed findings by Justice Department’s inspector general Michael Horowitz that the bureau bungled its surveillance of Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Horowitz said that the FBI’s applications to FISA Court to monitor Page contained “significant inaccuracies and omissions” and that agents “failed to meet the basic obligation” to ensure the applications were “scrupulously accurate.”

Horowitz, however, dismissed some conservatives’ longstanding allegations about the investigation into the Trump campaign, including that top FBI officials were motivated by political bias and illegally spied on Trump advisers.

“The failures highlighted in that report are unacceptable. Period,” Wray said. “They don’t reflect who the FBI is as an institution.”

Wray told lawmakers that the bureau had changed policies and procedures to clean up the process. That includes more training for FBI officials who apply for the warrants.

Saying the warrants are important to the FBI’s mission, Wray asked lawmakers to renew the FISA authorities, which are set to expire in March.

“I can assure members of this committee we need those FISA authorities,” Wray said. “We need the agility to stay ahead of the threat or we’re all going to regret it.”

Bernie Madoff is Dying and Wants Out of Prison, Court Filing Says

Bernie Madoff/facebook photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Fraudster Bernie Madoff, who became the poster boy of  all that is evil in the investment world, wants out of prison early because he’s dying.

In a court filing, Madoff, 81, says he has less than 18 months to live due to kidney disease, the New York Times reports.

In 2009, he admitted  running a Ponzi scheme that financially ruined individuals and organizations, including non-profits. He was sentenced to 150 years in prison.

“Madoff does not dispute the severity of his crimes, nor does he seek to minimize the suffering of his victims,” his lawyer, Brandon Sample, wrote in the court filing. “Madoff humbly asks this court for a modicum of compassion.”

Madoff is housed at federal medical center at the prison in Butner, N.C.

 

Final Defendant Charged in 2010 Killing of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry

Slain Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The eighth and final person to be charged in the 2010 killing of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry is awaiting trial in the U.S.

Jesus Rosario Favela-Astorga was charged Monday with first-degree murder – nearly a decade after Terry was fatally shot during a firefight with a seven-men “rip crew” that robbed smugglers crossing the Arizona-Mexico border, the Justice Department said.

Authorities arrested Favela-Astorga in Mexico in October 2017.

Terry’s death revealed the botched “Fast and Furious” operation in which federal agents permitted criminals to buy firearms so they could be tracked to criminal organizations.

Six other men have been indicted in connection with Terry’s murder.

City of El Paso Changes Name of Dog Park to Honor Border Patrol K-9 Killed in Line of Duty

5-year-old Belgian Malinois, Bulder.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A dog park in El Paso will be named after Bulder, the Border Patrol K-9 killed in the line of duty in December.

The city of El Paso wants to honor the courageous dog, a 5 -year-old Belgian Malinois.

“People just think it’s a dog. It’s actually a partner. It’s an agent,” Tim Sullivan, chief patrol agent with U.S. Border Patrol Special Operations Group, said, according to Border Report. “So, this resolution honors him and the sacrifice he made while protecting the other agents.”

Bulder was killed during a shootout that occurred as agents tried to execute a search warrant at a home in El Paso.

The 62-year-old suspect who killed the dog out in a shootout was fatally shot with return fire.

“El Paso has a big heart for our pets and of course for the men and women who serve our community,” City Rep. Claudia Ordaz-Perez said. “So we thought it was just fitting that the only dog splash park in the community that we name this park after K9 Agent Bulder to forever serve in our memories.”

FBI Director Wray to Testify before Congressional Committee about Bureau ‘Oversight’

FBI Director Christopher Wray.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

FBI Director Christopher Wray will take the hot seat Wednesday as he testifies before the House Judiciary Committee about flaws found in the bureau’s investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.

The hearing, which is set for 10 a.m., will examine oversight issues, including findings by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz that the bureau bungled its surveillance of Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Horowitz said that the FBI’s applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor Page contained “significant inaccuracies and omissions” and that agents “failed to meet the basic obligation” to ensure the applications were “scrupulously accurate.”

Horowitz also dismissed some conservatives’ longstanding allegations about the investigation into the Trump campaign, including that top FBI officials were motivated by political bias and illegally spied on Trump advisers.

Suit Alleging Sexual Harassment at FBI’s Training Academy Adds 17th Woman

Training academy in Quantico, Va., via FBI

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A female FBI trainee has become the 17th woman to claim she was sexually harassed at the bureau’s training academy in Quantico, Va.

The Florida woman who was discharged from the training academy joined a lawsuit that alleges the academy is a “good-old-boy network” that exposes women to a hostile work environment, inappropriate jokes and sexual advances beginning in 2015.

The lawsuit was amended to include the unidentified woman’s accusations, The Washington Times reports.

The trainee alleges her male supervisors effectively discharged her by issuing numerous situations known as “suitability notations,” which instructors hand out for issues ranging from insubordination to inability to complete a task.

The suit, filed in May, claims some of the women were discriminated against based on their race or disabilities. One African American trainee alleges an instructor called her “spaghetti head” because of her braids.

The lawsuit zeroed in on the mock town known as Hogan’s Alley, where trainees learn about tactical training with fake criminals and terrorists. This phase of training resulted in many women being kicked out of the academy.

At the time of the suit, seven of the 16 women still worked for the FBI.

The women are asking for more female training instructors, an examination of the training evaluation process and $300,000 each for emotional stress.

The FBI has declined to publicly comment on the case.