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Archive for August, 2021

IG Investigation Found No Evidence of FBI Agents Leaking Information Prior to 2016 Presidential Election

By Steve Neavling

A Justice Department inspector general’s investigation was unable to identify who in the FBI leaked information to the media or Rudolph Giuliani prior to the 2016 presidential election. 

But according to the new 10-page report from Inspector General Michael Horowitz, more than 50 FBI officials were in contact with reporters who wrote about investigations before the election.

The impetus of the internal probe was the discovery that details of the FBI investigations into Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s campaign were leaked to the media. 

Horowitz noted that it was difficult to identify the leakers because he did not have subpoena power and that too many agents had contact with reporters. He noted there was “a cultural attitude at the FBI that was far too permissive of unauthorized media contacts in 2016.”

Giuliani previously claimed he had inside information about the Clinton investigation. But according to the report, Giuliani walked back his claims, saying he did not talk to active FBI agents and “had no foreknowledge” of then-FBI Director James Comey’s public revelation just before the election that the bureau had reopened the investigation into Clinton’s use of a personal email account. 

Members of Congress Demand Answers Following Blistering Report on Border Patrol in Michigan

Photo: CBP

By Steve Neavling

Two members of Congress are calling on the Homeland Security director to address alarming allegations in a Michigan ACLU report that accused Border Patrol of “blatant racial profiling.”

The report, which is based on thousands of pages of documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, says 85% of noncitizens apprehended by agents were from Latin America, even though more than 70% of those arrested in Michigan for entering the U.S. without authorization from Canada were Canadian citizens or originally from Europe. It also revealed that more than 96% of the people apprehended by Border Patrol agents were recorded as being “Black,” “Dark Brown,” “Dark,” Light Brown,” “Medium Brown,” “Medium,” or yellow.”

In a letter to Homeland Security Director Alejandro Mayorkas, U.S. Reps. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Jamie Raskin, D-Md., accused Border Patrol agents of focusing more on harassing immigrant communities than enforcing the law. 

“Taken together, these findings suggest that CBP’s operations in Michigan are focused less on its lawful enforcement priorities than on harassing longtime residents of Michigan in a way that systematically and disproportionately target those of Latin American origin,” Tlaib and Raskin wrote in a letter to Homeland Security Director Alejandro Mayorkas.

Tlaib and Raskin want a meeting with Mayorkas to address the report’s findings. 

“We are deeply troubled by what appear to be discriminatory abuses of authority and misuse of taxpayer funds,” they wrote. “DHS must provide a full explanation of exactly how it is addressing the problems laid bare by the ACLU.” 

Biden’s ATF Nominee Is Three Votes Away from Getting Confirmed

Former ATF Agent David Chipman, via Twitter.

By Steve Neavling

The confirmation of David Chipman, President Biden’s pick to lead the ATF, appears to rest in the hands of two Democrats and an independent in the U.S. Senate. 

All 50 Republican oppose Chipman’s confirmation, so it will take the support of the remaining senators to approve his appointment. 

The holdouts are Democrats Sens. Joe Manchin, W.V., and Jon Tester, Montana, along with independent Sen. Angus King, of Maine, The USA Today reports.

“As a proud gun owner, Senator Tester believes ATF needs a strong leader to support the agency’s law enforcement mission,” a spokesperson for Tester said in a statement to The Hill. “Senator Tester will continue to review David Chipman’s record and testimony to ensure he would support our brave law enforcement officers and respect Montanans’ Second Amendment rights.”

King “continues to review the nomination,” a spokesperson said. 

Chipman’s confirmation is controversial among conservatives because he has advocated for firearm restrictions, including a ban on assault weapons, such as AR-15s. The National Rifle Association and National Shooting Sports Foundation have joined in the fight with more than $4 million in radio and TV ads in the home states of moderate Democrats and King. 

Chipman is a gun owner and former ATF agent

The ATF has been without a Senate-confirmed director since 2015. 

On Wednesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki acknowledged that Chipman’s nomination “wouldn’t be easy.” 

“We’ve been eyes wide open into the challenge from the beginning,” she said.

Psaki added, “We are disappointed by the fact that many Republicans are moving in lockstep to try to hold up his nomination and handcuff the chief federal law enforcement agency tasked with fighting gun crimes.”

Chipman’s nomination advanced from the Senate Judiciary Committee after a 10-10 vote last month. But since then, Democrats have not scheduled a confirmation vote because they’re not sure if he has enough support. 

CBP to Begin Outfitting Border Patrol Agents with Body Cameras

Photo: Shutterstock

About a third of Border Patrol agents will wear body cameras by the end of the year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Wednesday

The agency already began outfitting agents with body cameras, which are roughly the size of a deck of playing cards.

“Our agents and officers serve the public and protect our borders every day with great skill and professionalism,” Troy Miller, CBP Acting Commissioner, said. “Providing them with state-of-the-art technology and tools like body-worn cameras will support their work and provide greater transparency into interactions between CBP officers and agents and the public.”

About 6,000 of the agency’s 20,000 agents will have body cameras by the end of 2021. Agents along the southwest and northern borders will be the first to receive cameras. 

After this year, the plan is to add body cameras to more agents. 

The idea is to “strengthen CBP’s ability to document and review enforcement encounters and use of force incidents, and to investigate allegations of misconduct on the part of our personnel,” the agency said in a news release.

The announcement comes a month after the Justice department said that federal agents serving arrest warrants or executing raids will soon be required to wear body cameras. The new policy applies to the FBI, ATF and U.S. Marshals.

Off-Duty Border Patrol Agent Uses Bowling Ball to Rescue Driver from Burning Car

A Border Patrol agent rescued a driver from this burning car. Photo: CBP.

By Steve Neavling

An off-duty Border Patrol agent saved a man from a burning car in metro Detroit using a bowling ball, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Tuesday.

Agent John Leslie was driving on a highway in Farmington Hills when he spotted a car on fire along the side of the road on July 31. Leslie, a trained EMT, rushed to the scene and discovered that the driver was trapped inside the vehicle as flames quickly spread.

With the passenger-side door destroyed in the crash, the agent crawled into the car and opened the rear door, but was unable to pull the driver through the back seat because of the damage.

Finding a bowling ball in the rear seat as the flames intensified, Leslie smashed the driver’s window and pried open the door to free the driver before a small explosion engulfed the car.

“If it weren’t for the bowling ball, I’m not sure how I would have gotten the window smashed to get the guy out,” Leslie said in a statement. “That ball saved his life.”

The agent treated the driver until emergency rescue officials arrived.

“Everyday across America our Border Patrol agents, without regard for their own safety, risk their lives to save others,” Acting Chief Patrol Agent Robert B. Simon said. “I could not be more proud of John and how quickly he jumped in to save this mans life. If he did not react so quickly the outcome would have been very different.”

Leslie was the latest off-duty Border Patrol agent to jump to action during an emergency.

Last weekend, an off-duty agent from the El Centro Sector helped thwart a carjacking in what the agency called a “heroic act.”

Another off-duty agent stopped a man slashing a knife at bystanders in San Diego earlier this month.

FBI Investigates Fatal Stabbing of Pentagon Officer Outside Pentagon

Pentagon, via Department of Defense.

By Steve Neavling

The FBI is investigating the fatal stabbing of a Pentagon police officer near the Pentagon transit center in Virginia on Tuesday morning.

Responding law enforcement shot and killed the suspect shortly after 10:30 a.m., The Associated Press reports.

The stabbing prompted the temporary lockdown of the Pentagon.

The suspect was Austin William Lanz, 27, of Georgia. Lanz ambushed the officer, stabbing him in the neck, law enforcement officials said.

Details of the attack, including the motive, weren’t immediately clear.

Lanz was “administratively separated” from the U.S. Marine Corps in October 2012, less than a month after he enlisted, according to the Corps.

“This fallen officer died in the line of duty, helping protect the tens of thousands of people who work in — and who visit — the Pentagon on a daily basis,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement. “This tragic death today is a stark reminder of the dangers they face and the sacrifices they make. We are forever grateful for that service and the courage with which it is rendered.”

IG Report: FBI Used Provocative Photos of Female Staffers to Lure Predators in Undercover Stings

Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

FBI agents posted provocative photos of young female coworkers online to lure predators in sex trafficking investigations, placing them “in danger of becoming the victims of criminal offenses,” according to an Inspector General report.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz said the agents did not get approval from the employees’ supervisors or written consent from the staffers to post the photos. 

The report also found that the employees were not certified for undercover work. 

Horowitz’s internal investigation was prompted by allegations that an unidentified FBI agent was having an inappropriate relationship with a female staffer, whom the agent asked for “provocative pictures of herself” for the undercover sting.

The FBI said it “fully accepted” the recommendations in the report and that it would create “new language” to address the problems outlined by Horowitz. 

Joseph Gonzalez Named Special Agent in Charge of FBI’s San Juan Field Office in Puerto Rico

FBI Special Agent in Charge Joseph Gonzalez

By Steve Neavling

Joseph Gonzalez has been appointed special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Juan Field Office in Puerto Rico. 

Gonzalez, who most recently served as the FBI’s legal attaché in Mexico City, joined the FBI as a special agent in 2003 in the New York Field Office, where he investigated white-collar crime. He also served on New York’s Underwater Search and Evidence Response Team and its Rapid Deployment Team.

Gonzalez transferred to the San Juan Field Office in 2016 to investigate organized crime, international drug trafficking and money laundering, and violent gangs. He also served as a crisis negotiator and a crisis management coordinator. In 2011, Gonzalez was promoted to supervisory special agent of San Juan’s Criminal Enterprise Squad and served as the coordinator for the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. In 2012, he became supervisor of the Public Corruption/Civil Rights squad.

In 2014, Gonzalez was named chief of the Public Corruption Unit in the Criminal Investigative Division at FBI headquarters and served as the acting section chief of the Public Corruption Civil Rights Section.

In 2016, Gonzalez became assistant special agent in charge of the Special Operations Branch of the Newark Field Office in New Jersey, overseeing surveillance and aviation operations, human intelligence, security, language services, the undercover program, and several other programs.

In 2017, Gonzalez was promoted to chief of the Operational Support Section in the International Operations Division at headquarters, overseeing several units. He became legal attaché in Mexico City in 2018, serving as the primary liaison to the FBI’s Mexican counterparts.

Before joining the FBI, Gonzalez was a certified public accountant. He received a bachelor’s degree from Fordham University in 1999.

The bureau also announced other promotions Monday. Cathy L. Milhoan was named assistant director of the Office of Public Affairs; Alyssa M. Doyle was appointed to special agent in charge of the Counterintelligence and Cyber Division at the Los Angeles Field Office; and Jesse Levine was named special agent in charge of the Intelligence Division of the New York Field Office.