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Archive for August, 2021

DOJ, FBI Considers Releasing 9/11 Files Amid Pressure from Victims, Families

World Trade Center after the 9/11 attacks via Wikipedia.

By Steve Neavling

Under pressure from 9/11 victims and their families, the Justice Department said it may release some classified information and documents related to the investigation into the attack. 

Survivors, victims and their families believe the documents may show a connection between the Saudi government and the terrorist attacks. They called on President Biden to skip the 20th anniversary ceremonies of the attack if his administration didn’t divulge the information. 

In a letter filed in federal court Monday, the Justice Department said it will consider releasing the records, Politico reports.

But some survivors and victims weren’t mollified, saying the government has withheld the information for far too long. 

“We appreciate that President Biden recognizes that long-standing questions about the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the worst-ever terrorist attack on American soil remain unanswered, but nobody should be fooled by this half-hearted, insufficient commitment to transparency,” Terry Strada, whose husband, Tom, died in the attack, said.

In the DOJ’s letter, the department said the FBI is examining records related to the investigation to determine whether it can be disclosed. 

“The FBI will disclose such information on a rolling basis as expeditiously as possible,” the Justice Department said. 

Two Detroit Men Convicted of Shooting at ATF Agents in Unmarked Car

By Steve Neavling

Two Detroit men who opened fire on a pair of ATF agents in April 2019 have pleaded guilty.  

Kevin Keshawn Young, aka Gucci, 24, and Aaron Marquis Shooks, aka Boogey, 23, will be sentenced on Dec. 8 on a charge of attempted murder of federal agents, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

Young and Shooks are members of a gang known as OES 187 Head Hunters, according to federal prosecutors. 

On April 15, 2019, federal agents were investigating a shooting in which Shooks and other OES members were allegedly involved. The agents were in an unmarked car, following the gang members when Young exited his vehicle and fired 11 shots at the agents. Young later claimed he thought the agents were rival gang members. 

No one was injured. 

As part of a plea deal, Young faces between 10 and 15 years in prison, and Shooks faces 10-13 years behind bars. 

“Every day our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line and risk personal injury to protect our citizens from senseless violence,” Acting U.S. Attorney Saima Mohsin said in a statement. “When officers or agents are assaulted while performing those duties, the perpetrators can expect that every resource of this office will be used to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law, and to seek justice.”

Keith Krolczyk, acting special agent in charge of the ATF’s Detroit Field Division, added, “Our special agents and other law enforcement officers risk their personal safety everyday doing their job, protecting the public and enforcing the law, to make our community safe. We are proud of them and their unrelenting professionalism.”

GAO: DHS Dropped Ball on Security During Jan. 6 Riot at U.S. Capitol

Alex Gakos/Shutterstock.com

By Steve Neavling

The Department of Homeland Security mishandled the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol and should have anticipated the violence and increased security ahead of the event, according to the Government Accountability Office. 

The report, titled “Capitol Attack: Special Event Designations Could Have Been Request for January 6, 2021, but Not All DHS Guidance Is Clear,” was issued Monday.

The GAO suggested Homeland Security failed to ensure there was adequate security at the Capitol, despite plenty of evidence of possible violence, including threats on social media. 

“There were indications, such as social media posts, that additional security may have been needed at the Capitol Complex on January 6,” the GAO report states.

According to the report, DHS could have coordinated security or asked Secret Service to handle it. 

“A designation would likely have assured additional security to help respond to the January 6 attack on the Capitol,” the GAO said.

So far, the FBI has arrested about 535 people for participating in the insurrection, which led to the deaths of five people either during or immediately after the riot. About 140 officers also were injured. 

Border Patrol Agents Shot at for Second Time in 4 Days Along Mexican Border

By Steve Neavling

The FBI is investigating after Border Patrol agents appear to have come under fire early Monday for the second time in four days along the Juárez-El Paso border. 

An agent was patrolling the border when about five shots rang out from Juárez shortly after midnight, El Paso Times reports.

The agent wasn’t struck. 

Mexican authorities were searching for two suspects. 

Early Friday, about 20 gunshots were fired at a Border Patrol agent who was patrolling in El Paso’s Lower Valley. The agent took cover and wasn’t injured. 

“Approximately 20 rounds were fired towards the agent from approximately 150 yards away. Fortunately, none of the rounds struck the agent,” Customs and Border Protection said in a statement.

The FBI said it was investigating that shooting. 

Three weeks earlier, a narco-banner in Juárez warned Mexican police and Border Patrol to stop messing with human smugglers. It wasn’t immediately clear if the shootings are related to the banner’s threat.

FBI Agent in Puerto Rico Believed to Be First Black Woman Selected for SWAT Team

Tai is believed to be the first Black FBI agents to be selected for the SWAT team. Photo: FBI.

By Steve Neavling

An FBI special agent in Puerto Rico is believed to be the first Black woman tapped to serve on the bureau’s SWAT team.

The 32-year-old agent, whom the FBI identifies in a press release as Tai, began her first day of Now Operator Training School, or NOTs, a 10-week proving ground for selectees, in May. 

During the training, Tai said she wasn’t focused on breaking racial barriers.

“I’m one of those people where I have a task at hand and I just focus on that task,” Tai said. “I don’t really think about people looking at me.”

But, she added, she hopes her selection inspires others. 

Tai is training to be on the FBI SWAT team. Photo: FBI.

“Hopefully somebody will see that I was able to do it,” Tai said. “I’m not the biggest person. I’m not as strong as some of these guys. But as long as you have perseverance—because it does get really tough—you push through it and keep going.”

Tai’s career with the FBI began in 2017, when she was assigned to the San Juan Field Office, investigating corruption. 

Before joining the FBI, Tai was a deputy for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in Orland, Fla., and is also a soldier in the U.S. Army Reserve. 

The mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando inspired Tai to join the FBI. 

“The amount of assets and the professional attitude of agents,” she said. “They were organized, and they got stuff done.”

TAI said she’s grateful for the Black female agents who preceded her. 

“I’m definitely thankful for all the Black women before me in the FBI,” Tai said. “Because if it didn’t start with that one, who knows how many there would be today, if any. I’m definitely grateful for all of them before me.”

Ex-Acting AG Testifies That Trump Pressured DOJ Officials to Overturn Election

Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, via DOJ.

By Steve Neavling

Former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen told congressional investigators on Saturday that President Trump pressured him and other Justice Department leaders to overturn the election. 

Rosen’s testimony came during closed-door testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, The New York Times reports. He also met Friday with the Justice Department’s Inspector General.

Rosen also said Jeffrey Clark, the acting head of the Justice Department’s civil division, pressed DOJ leadership to make false claims about widespread election fraud. At the time, Trump mulled replacing Rosen with Clark. 

In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin said Rosen’s testimony was “invaluable.”

“It was real. Very real. And it was very specific,” Durbin said of Trump pressuring Rosen. “The former president is not subtle when he wants something.”

Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, lauded Rosen for his cooperation. 

“I have to say history is going to very kind to Mr. Rosen when this is all over. When he was initially appointed, I didn’t think that was the case. I was wrong,” Durbin said.

He added, “It’s a good thing for America we had someone like Rosen in that position.”

Weekend Series on Crime History: The Story About ex-FBI Agent Robert Hanssen

Washington Post Column: AG Merrick Garland Wants Congress to Do Something About Voting Rights

By Merrick Garland, Attorney General

Our society is shaped not only by the rights it declares but also by its willingness to protect and enforce those rights. Nowhere is this clearer than in the area of voting rights.

Attorney General Merrick Garland

Fifty-six years ago Friday, the Voting Rights Act became law. At the signing ceremony, President Lyndon B. Johnson rightly called it “one of the most monumental laws in the entire history of American freedom.”

Prior attempts to protect voting rights informed his assessment. The 15th Amendment promised that no American citizen would be denied the right to vote on account of race. Yet for nearly a century following the amendment’s ratification, the right to vote remained illusory for far too many.

To read the full column click here.