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Archive for March, 2020

AG Barr Chooses Will Levi As New Chief of Staff

Attorney General William Barr, via DOJ.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Attorney General William Barr has chosen a new chief of staff, two Justice Department officials tell Politico.

Will Levi, who has been one of Barr’s seven counselors, has been tapped for the role and will replace Brian Rabbitt, who is resuming a senior role in the department’s criminal division.

Levi will be responsible for day-to-day affairs in the Justice Department and undoubtedly will work closely with Barr, who has been accused of politicizing the attorney general’s office.

Levi’s father and grandfather both worked for the Justice Department.

DOJ Watchdog Criticizes FBI’s Handling of U.S.-Based Violent Extremists

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department’s inspector general criticized the FBI’s handling of U.S.-based extremists who successfully carried out attacks against Americans after the bureau investigated them.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report identified homegrown violent extremists (HVE) who continued to act violently after the FBI prematurely closed their cases.

“Since September 11, 2001, HVEs have carried out over 20 attacks in the United States, some of which occurred after the FBI closed a counterterrorism investigation or assessment on the individual,” the report said.

The report identified “at least six attacks committed in the United States by individuals who the FBI had previously assessed or investigated” between 2009 and 2017. They include the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the 2016 Orland Pulse Nightclub attack.

The report encourages the FBI to improve its handling of tips about potentially violent people and develop a more comprehensive plan to determine the risks of individuals with mental health problems.

Lifelong Republican Comey Endorses Biden, Then Mocked by Campaign

Former FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Former FBI Director James Comey, who was fired by President Trump, said he voted in his first Democratic primary election on Tuesday and endorsed Joe Biden.

“Voted in first Dem primary to support party dedicated to restoring values in WH,” the lifelong Republican tweeted. “I agree with @amyklobuchar: We need candidate who cares about all Americans and will restore decency, dignity to the office. There is a reason Trump fears @joebiden and roots for Bernie. #Biden2020.”

Biden’s campaign had an odd response to the endorsement. Andrew Bates, the rapid response director for Biden’s presidential campaign, appeared to mock Comey’s support on Twitter.

“Yes, customer service? I just received a package that I very much did not order. How can I return it, free of charge?” Bates tweeted Tuesday afternoon.

Two hours later, Bates insisted he was joking.

“I forgot the #1 rule of politics, which is that if you talk about anyone or anything related to 2016, common sense goes out the window. It was meant to be a lighthearted joke – not a rejection,” Bates tweeted. “We appreciate the vote of anyone repelled by Donald Trump.”

Homeland Security Closes Washington State Facility over Coronavirus Fears

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Department of Homeland Security temporarily closed one of its facilities in Washington state and directed employees to self-quarantine for two weeks after one of its employees visited a nursing home impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

The 14-day closure of a Citizenship and Immigration Services field office in Seattle was made “out of an abundance of caution,” Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf told the House Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday, CNN reports.

Before an outbreak was reported at the Life Care Facility in Kirkland, Wash., Wolf said an employe visited a family member there. Four deaths from the coronavirus are tied to the nursing home and rehabilitation facility.

“I am pleased to report that this employee embodied what it means to lead by example,” Wolf said. “The employee and their family took every precaution and followed the guidance of public health officials. They stayed home from work when they felt ill, the family self-quarantined, and reported the exposure and their condition to their employers and other officials.”

The employee went to work before exhibiting “flu-like symptoms four days after visiting the nursing home,” Acting Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli wrote in a series of tweets Tuesday morning.

Cuccinelli said the department “takes the safety & health of our employees & applicants seriously.”

“We’re following CDC’s guidelines & encourage all employees and applicants to stay home if they are feeling ill or exhibiting any flu-like symptoms,” Cuccinelli wrote.

Homeland Security employees are being asked to “telework.”

Cuccinelli Won’t Step Down As DHS Deputy Secretary After Judge’s Ruling

Ken Cuccinelli

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Ken Cuccinelli, an immigration hardliner, is refusing to step down as deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security after a federal judge said his appointment violated federal law.

Cuccinelli insists his appointment was appropriate.

“The succession for the deputy secretary of homeland security ties back to my official position as the principal deputy at USCIS [U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services], there’s not a problem with me at my current position,” Cuccinelli said on Fox and Friends Monday after initially laughing at the news. “The only issue in the case is related to being the acting director at USCIS. And this ruling is really something of an outlier. This is a methodology that has been used in the past. It’s been thought of as legal as — pretty broadly.”

A federal district court judge in Washington D.C. ruled that Cuccinelli, a 51-year-old former attorney general, failed to meet the requirements in the Federal Vacancies Reform Act to secure the job.

The judge said Cuccinelli was illegally appointed to lead a department agency, a move that the Trump administration believed made him qualify for his current job.

It wasn’t immediately clear how the judge will respond to Cuccinelli’s refusal to step down.

Detroit Police End Relationship with DEA Task Force over Controversial Informant

By Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Detroit police are pulling out of a DEA task force over the use of an informant who went on a killing spree.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig told The Detroit News that he pulled his officers from a DEA/Detroit police task force after meeting with Keith Martin, special agent in charge of the DEA’s operations in Michigan and Ohio.

“I said during the meeting I felt there was a breach of trust,” Craig said. “Because of this failure to acknowledge ownership that (Kenyel) Brown was signed as an informant working for the DEA/DPD task force, I’m pulling my officers from the task force.”

Detroit police had worked with the DEA for more than 20 years, the chief said.

Martin responded that the DEA is still “committed to working with the Detroit Police Department.”

The controversy involves the DEA’s use of Kenyel Brown, whom the task force paid $150 in October for information about a southwest Detroit gang dealing drugs.

Brown committed suicide by shooting himself in the head Monday as officers prepared to arrest him on allegations he was involved in six homicides, a shooting and two carjackings in Detroit and two suburbs.

Brown was kept out of prison while he was used as a federal informant, despite “multiple violations of his probation,” The Detroit News reported.

FBI Launches Pilot to Rapidly Match DNA Samples from Felony Suspects

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI is testing a new way to rapidly match DNA samples – in just two hours – from felony suspects.

The new program, “Rapid DNA,” was launched as a pilot program in Florida, California, Texas, Arizona, and Louisiana, UPI reports.

If the pilot program is successful, it could transform the role of DNA in solving crimes.

“There is no question that DNA testing has made Florida safer, and the use of Rapid DNA will ensure suspects aren’t released from jail before DNA search results come back,” Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen said in a news conference last week.

The technology is 10 years in the making and would rely on the FBI’s national database of DNA collected in unsolved crimes.

“We believe this scientific DNA matching tool will greatly enhance all law enforcement agencies … to more effectively and efficiently solve crimes and bring the perpetrators of crime to justice,” said Sheriff Walt McNeil of Leon County, where the program pilot began.

Authorities Investigating Bombshell Allegations that U.S. Officials Were Involved in Murder of DEA Agent Camarena

DEA Agent Enrique Camarena

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Federal authorities are investigating new bombshell allegations that a CIA operative and DEA official conspired with a drug kingpin to torture and murder DEA Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena in 1985.

Multiple witnesses who have been re-interviewed in the case told USA Today that Camarena may have been betrayed by his own country.

Whether American operatives were involved remains unknown, but the allegations are too explosive to ignore, officials said.

“You can’t just put it in a drawer and forget about it,” one official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the case.

Camarena’s widow, Mika, said authorities have told her they are investigating the allegations.

“I want the truth to be out,” told the publication. “At this point, nothing would surprise me.”

Witnesses who were re-interviewed shared startling allegations that U.S. officials had been secretly helping drug cartels. Those witnesses, former Mexican police officers Ramon Lira, Rene Lopez and George Godoy, who had worked as security guards for cartel kingpins, shared their accounts with the USA Today.