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Archive for June, 2020

Man Charged with Planting Explosives Next to Downtown Pittsburgh Building

Matthew Michanowicz

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A 52-year-old man has been charged on allegations he planted explosives next to a building in downtown Pittsburgh.

ATF agents and local police searched the home of Matthew Michanowicz, who has been charged with possessing weapons of mass destruction and possession of explosive or incendiary materials or devices.

Authorities say the man was caught on surveillance footage getting off his bike and planting a backpack next to PNC Plaza.

On Monday, authorities investigated a report of a suspicious package and found multiple explosives inside.

Police say Michanowicz admitted he was downtown but denied planing the backpack. Photos and videos show otherwise, authorities said.

Border Patrol Asks Contractors: How Can We Stop People from Breaching the New Walls

An existing wall at border of Mexico. Photo via Congress.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

They built the walls, but they’re not working as planned.

Soldiers managed to destroy walls in San Diego. Smugglers are doing the same.

Now Border Patrol is asking contractors for ways to “leapfrog current technology to dramatically improve efficacy,” Arizona Public Media reports.

Could paint make it easier to see people breaching walls? What about sensors? They’re among the questions being barnstormed to make the walls more effective.

By the end of the year, the U.S. government has a goal of building 450 miles of walls. So far, it has built about 182 miles.

But the walls are being breached almost as quickly as they’re being built.

Border Patrol declined to comment.

Man Accused of Pointing Handgun at ATF Agent While Walking with a Child

Gun found inside Joseph Hammond’s backpack, via federal court records.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A 33-year-old man with a child is accused of pointing a handgun at the face of an ATF agent in Englewood, Ill., just after midnight Wednesday morning, federal prosecutors said.

Agents approached Joseph Hammond following a 911 call about a man shooting a gun while carrying a baby, The Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Hammond allegedly pointed a handgun with an extended magazine at the agent’s face before saying, “Keep moving.”

Hammond then picked up the child and fled on foot. Agents found him about 45 minutes later while he was carrying the toddler and a backpack.

Agents found an extended magazine and pistol grip inside his backpack, authorities said.

Rosenstein Defends Appointment of Mueller But Said FBI Misled Him on Carter Page Surveillance

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testifying before a House committee in December 2017.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Wednesday defended his decision to appoint a special counsel to investigate Russia’s election meddling, but blamed top-level FBI officials for “significant errors.”

“I still believe it was the right decision under the circumstances,” Mr. Rosenstein told the Senate Judiciary Committee about appointing Robert S. Mueller III as special counsel, The New York Times reports. “I recognize that people can criticize me for them. That’s the consequence of being in these jobs — you make decisions and people criticize you for them — but I believed it was the right decision at the time.”

Rosenstein, however, said he signed applications to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page based on erroneous information and omissions.

The Republican-led committee is ramping up its investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation.

Secret Service Tightens Security Around the White House

Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The U.S. Secret Service is tightening security around the White House as anti-police brutality protests continue in Washington, Fox News reports. 

A Secret Service source tells the network the agency has installed anti-rioting fences around the White House and implemented road closures. Specifically, a nearly eight-foot-high chain-link fence was installed along the perimeter of Lafayette Square.

“They’re expanding the perimeter,” a source told Fox News.

DEA Can Conduct Covert Surveillance on Protesters

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The DEA has been given the green light to “conduct covert surveillance” and collect intelligence on people protesting the death of George Floyd, according to a two-page memorandum obtained by BuzzFeed News.

Floyd’s death “has spawned widespread protests across the nation, which, in some instances, have included violence and looting,” the DEA memo says. “Police agencies in certain areas of the country have struggled to maintain and/or restore order.” The memo requests the extraordinary powers on a temporary basis, and on Sunday afternoon a senior Justice Department official signed off.

BuzzFeed reports:

The DEA is limited by statute to enforcing drug-related federal crimes. But on Sunday, Timothy Shea, a former US attorney and close confidant of Barr’s who was named acting administrator of the DEA last month, received approval from Associate Deputy Attorney General Bradley Weinsheimer to go beyond the agency’s mandate “to perform other law enforcement duties” that Barr may “deem appropriate.”

Zoom Won’t Encrypt Free Calls So It Can Help FBI

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

If you haven’t used Zoom by now, you’re likely living on another planet.

Eric Yaun, CEO of the online platform that became extremely popular after the outbreak of the coronavirus, says his company won’t encrypt calls made by users on the free plan so it can work with the FBI and local enforcement agencies to trace down repeat offenders and spammers, the website Digital Trends reports.

The end-to-end encryption feature, which is at the moment in beta stages, will be soon available exclusively to enterprise and paid clients.

Ex-FBI Lawyer Lisa Page Refers to Trump As ‘Monstrous, Despicable President’

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

There’s no love between ex-FBI lawyer Lisa Page and President Trump, as was evident with her disparaging remarks about Trump on Twitter on Tuesday.

Page, you might recall, had an affair with FBI agent Peter Strzok. Both exchanged critical texts about Trump, who subsequently mocked their affair.

Her tweet was in reference to Trump’s controversial move to tear gas peaceful protesters so he could stroll over to a church near the White House for a photo opportunity with him holding a bible.