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Archive for October, 2021

Long-Delayed Plans to Build New FBI Headquarters May Soon Be Back on Track

The FBI’s current headquarters in Washington D.C., named after J. Edgar Hoover.

By Steve Neavling

The long-delayed construction of a new a FBI headquarters may be back on track with the introduction of appropriation bills in the Senate. 

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Financial Services and General Government panel, announced this week language in a bill that would restart the project. 

Van Hollen blamed former President Trump for delaying the project. Trump has long called for the headquarters, which is a stone’s throw from his Washington D.C. hotel, to be built downtown, rather than in the suburbs.

“For the last four years, President Trump did all he could to block our efforts to construct a new FBI consolidated headquarters that meets the security and capacity needs of the Bureau solely because it stood to hurt his personal financial interests,” Van Hollen said in a statement. “We fought back tooth and nail, and now, it’s past time to get this project back on track. That’s why I worked to include language in our proposed legislation requiring GSA to provide an update on the construction of a new headquarters and urging the FBI and GSA to work together to move forward. The status quo is unacceptable.”

Van Hollen has advocated for a new FBI headquarters in Maryland.

The FBI has been searching for a new headquarters for years, but funding problems continue to delay the project. The current headquarters is cramped and outdated, critics say. 

The bill’s new language says:

SEC. 530. (a) No later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator of the General Services Administration shall transmit to the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate, the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives, and the Committee on Environment and Public Works of the Senate, a report on the construction of a new headquarters for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the National Capital Region.

(b) The report transmitted under subsection (a) shall be consistent with the requirements of section 3307(b) of title 40, United States Code, and include a summary of the material provisions of the construction and consolidation of the FBI in a new headquarters facility, including all the costs associated with site acquisition, design, management, and inspection, and a description of all buildings and infrastructure needed to complete the project.

(c) Any FBI headquarters project shall result in a consolidation of space in the National Capital Area and shall meet key tenets of the space, transportation, and security requirements included in the General Services Administration’s Fiscal Year 2017 prospectus (PNCR–FBI–NCR 17).

Retired FBI Official Louie Frederick Allen Dies at 74

By Allan Lengel

Louie Frederick Allen, who worked for the FBI for nearly 26 years in various capacities including as head of the Newark Field Office, died last week (Oct. 15) at Samaritan Hospital in Troy, N.Y. He was 74.

Louie F. Allen

“Louie rose to the highest ranks of the FBI and never forgot that he was a public servant first and foremost,” said retired FBI official Andrew Arena, who heads the Detroit Crime Commission. “The mission of the FBI and the welfare of his employees were always first, he never thought of his own career.  That’s why he was so loved and respected throughout the Bureau. I will miss him terribly.”

A Pittsburgh native, Allen started his career with the FBI in 1978 and worked at field offices in the Mobile, Ala., Washington, D.C. and Cleveland. While at FBI headquarters, he was responsible for contingency plans and emergency response for special events such as the 1988 Democratic and Republican National Conventions and the 1989 Presidential Inauguration.

He was special agent in charge of the Albany Field Office before FBI Director Robert S. Mueller appointed him in 2002 as head of the Newark Field Office. Two years later, he retired from the FBI.

A Vietnam vet, he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Air Force in 1969. That year he joined the Pittsburgh Police Department where he rose to rank of detective. From 1969 to 1976, he earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh.

In 1978, he joined the FBI. After he left the bureau in 2004, he took a post as chief of detectives for the Prosecutor’s Office of Essex County, New Jersey. He held that post until 2007.

He then joined the New York State government as director of Internal Affairs for the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. In January 2010, he was named the first African American Sergeant at Arms for the New York Senate.

“Louie was a true renaissance man who had an affinity for reading a myriad of books across genres,” said an obit published on the Bryce Funeral Home. “Louie was a dedicated sports fan, especially to his hometown Pittsburgh Steelers, and used his love of sports to mentor young people. As a man who travelled across the world, including an annual trip to Aruba with his beloved wife Peggie, Louie consistently found joy by spending time with his family and friends over a savory meal that almost always included chicken.”

He is survived by wife Peggie; sons, Deputy Sheriff Christopher B. Allen and Jonathan F. Allen, both of Cleveland; his grandchildren, Christopher B. Allen, Jr., Sydney N. Allen, Brandon L. Allen, Sophia A. Allen; his siblings, Richard C. Rhodes, Jr. and Dawn Allen; and several nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends. He was predeceased by his brother, Theodore B. Jones. 

The funeral is set for Friday.

Magnus, Biden’s Nominee to Lead CBP, Takes Hot Seat During Senate Confirmation Hearing

Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus, picked to lead CBP.

By Steve Neavling

Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus, President Biden’s nominee to lead U.S. Customs and Border Protection, fielded tough questions about border security and immigration during a Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday. 

Magnus sought to assuage some Republicans by signaling support for two of former President Trump’s most controversial policies. He said he would consider finishing some of the border wall that the Biden administration has stopped and indicated he supported the Trump-era public health order that authorizes the rapid removal of migrants and asylum-seekers without an immigration hearing, The Washington Post reports.

Magnus also told the Senate Finance Committee that border security should be balanced with humane treatment of migrants. 

“I think humanity has to be part of the discussion early and often throughout the careers of CBP members,” he said.

“We do our jobs enforcing the law, but how we engage with the public, even the public we may be arresting, is what defines us as professionals, and it’s something we have a moral obligation to do,” Magnus said. 

Magnus, 60, doesn’t need Republican support to advance to a full Senate vote as long as all of the Democrats on the committee back him. 

Magnus, who has served as Tucson’s police chief since 2016, was a vocal critic of some of Trump’s immigration policies and a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement. 

If confirmed by the Senate, Magnus has a tough job ahead of him as the nation grapples with a border crisis and the separation of migrant children from their families. 

Magnus also would be the first openly gay CBP commissioner. 

Biden’s ATF nominee David Chipman floundered in the Senate after every Republican and Angus King, an independent from Maine, refused to support him.

Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas Tests Positive for COVID-19

Homeland Security Director Alejandro Mayorkas.

By Steve Neavling

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who is fully vaccinated, tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday. 

“Secretary Mayorkas tested positive this morning for the COVID-19 virus after taking a test as part of routine pre-travel protocols,” spokesperson Marsha Espinosa said in a statement, CBS News reports. “Secretary Mayorkas is experiencing only mild congestion.”

Mayorkas plans to work from home. In the meantime, contact tracing is underway. 

On Saturday, Mayorkas attended the annual National Police Officers’ Memorial Service at the U.S. Capitol with President Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, FBI Director Christopher Wray and other high-ranking officials. 

Mayorkas had a COVID-19 scare in July, when he worked from home after having close contact with a DHS employee who tested positive for the virus. 

Mayorkas had planned to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. It’s unclear if he still plans to appear remotely. 

Fake DEA and FBI Badges Seized

By Allan Lengel

Fake DEA and FBI badges were seized last month.

Real DEA badge

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized eight fake DEA badge and one FBI badge at the Chicago International Mail Branch.

Days later, CBP officers found 26 fake DEA badges destined for places including Washington, Iowa, Kentucky, Florida, California, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Virginia, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and Texas, Fox 29 of Texas reports.

The badges came from China.

“Unfortunately, there is the propensity for drug traffickers to portray themselves as police in an attempt to rob, other drug narcotics distributors,” Richard Sanchez, DEA special agent in charge of the Rio Grande Area, tells the station.

“Unfortunately in our day and age, replication of DEA badges as well as law enforcement badges, in general, are readily available for purchase.”

Assaults Against Law Enforcement Up in 2020, FBI Stats Show

By Allan Lengel

Assaults against law enforcement are up in 2020, the FBI reports.

Chicago Police Department squad car.

More than 60,000 law enforcement officers were assaulted in the line of duty last year, up 7.2 percent from 2019, CNN reports, citing an FBI report released Monday. Of those assaulted, about 30 percent suffered injuries.

The FBI reported in May that 93 officers were killed in the line of duty last year, 46 of which were the result of felonious acts.

There were 245 Covid-19 deaths among police officers in 2020. 

FBI Arrives in Haiti to Help Negotiate for Release of 17 Missionaries Who Were Kidnapped

By Steve Neavling

FBI agents are in Haiti to help negotiate for the release of 16 American missionaries and one Canadian who were abducted by a gang Saturday. 

The agents arrived on Sunday, just hours after confirmation that 17 Christian missionaries, including five children and several elderly people, were abducted at a checkpoint Saturday, The Miami Herald reports.

“The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of the Department of State,” the State Department said in a statement. “We have been in regular contact with senior Haitian authorities and will continue to work with them and interagency partners. We will provide additional information as we are able.”

The “400 Mawozo” gang is known for extorting businesses and kidnapping people for ransom. It’s responsible for about 80% of the kidnappings that occur in Haiti, according to Gédéon Jean, who runs the Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights in Port-au-Prince. 

In April, the gang abducted Roman Catholic clergy. 

“This is the type of kidnapping that 400 Mawozo do; we call it a collective kidnapping where they kidnap any entire bus or car,” Jean said.

Biden Supports DOJ Prosecuting Trump Allies Who Defy Subpoena to Testify

U.S. Capitol

By Steve Neavling

President Biden said he supports prosecuting Trump allies and officials who defy subpoenas to testify before the House Select Committee that is investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. 

“I hope the committee goes after them and holds them accountable,” Biden told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins on Friday.

Asked if he supports prosecution for those people, Biden responded, “I do, yes.”

Committee leaders said they were taking steps to hold Steve Bannon, a Trump ally and former administration officials, in contempt, for refusing to comply with a subpoena. 

Ultimately, the decision belongs to the Justice Department, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said when asked about it Thursday. 

“That would be up to the Department of Justice, and it would be their purview to determine. They’re an independent agency,” she told reporters at a White House press briefing on October 8. “They’re independent. They would determine any decision on criminal prosecutions. I’d point you to them and, of course, the committee.”

The Justice Department hasn’t said yet what it plans to do. 

“The Department of Justice will make its own independent decisions in all prosecutions based solely on the facts and the law. Period. Full stop,” DOJ spokesman Anthony Coley said Friday.