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Debates Rage on over Removing J. Edgar Hoover’s Name from New Headquarters

Current FBI headquarters, via FBI

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Plans to build a new FBI headquarters have been in limbo under President Trump, but that hasn’t stopped lawmakers and others from debating whether to remove J. Edgar Hoover’s name from a new building.

The Washington Times talked to lawmakers and former FBI officials to get their take. Some lawmakers scoff at the legacy of Hoover, the bureau’s first and longest-serving director. They say he discriminated against gay workers and squashed the civil liberties of black protesters, citing his obsession with Martin Luther King Jr.

“J. Edgar Hoover was an abomination on our history,” said Rep. Karen Bass, California Democrat and chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus. “I think they should find a name more reputable than J. Edgar Hoover. I mean, all that came out about him after his death: the way he threatened people, what he did in the African American community, what he did to Martin Luther King, what he did to the LGBT community, I could go on and on.”

Former agents say he was a crime-busting and national security hero and transformed the FBI into an effective, modernized federal agency.

“As a former agent, I am disappointed in the FBI for not doing more to defend Mr. Hoover’s legacy,” said William D. Brannon, a 30-year FBI veteran and chairman of the J. Edgar Hoover Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes Hoover’s legacy with scholarships to underprivileged college students.

“He really is the father of modern law enforcement,” said John F. McCaffrey, director of the J. Edgar Hoover Institute and a former agent. “We need to recognize that. He did things like establish an identification division, he brought science to law enforcement. He may have had his shortcomings, but his accomplishments were tremendous, and we want to see him recognized.”

One Congressional Black Caucus member, Rep. Val Butler Demings, D-Fla., said agents should be able to decide the name of the new headquarters.

“I think it’s really important to understand how the men and women of the bureau feel about the first FBI director,” she said. “I think it’s really important to listen to them.”

But first, the federal government has to decide on a plan for a new headquarters. The current one is decrepit, can’t accommodate a lot of new technology and constitutes security concerns.

Until Trump came along, federal officials had narrowed down the locations for a new headquarters to Maryland and Virginia. Congress had even security a third of the funding.

But six months into his administration, Trump officials abandoned the previous plans, and the project has been in limbo since.

FBI Director Wray Suggests Creating New Policy on Body Cams for Federal Task Forces

FBI Director Christopher Wray in Atlanta. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

FBI Director Christopher Wray suggested the federal government will try to reverse the Justice Department’s policy that bars federal agents and local officers from wearing body cams during joint investigations.

Wray, who was speaking at the International Association of Chiefs Police conference in Chicago, said any new policy must ensure that body cams don’t reseal sensitive information or the identities of informants, the Associated Press reports.

The DOJ’s policy on body cams prompted Atlanta’s police chief to remove city police officers from federal task forces.

Wray said he’s committed to preserving the strong relationship between the FBI and local law enforcement.

“We want to make sure that we find some middle ground that we’re all comfortable with,” Wray said. “The good news is we’re talking about it. We’re getting it all out on the table, and I’m actually confident we are going to find a way forward here.”

Comey Says House ‘Has No Choice’ But to Move Forward with Impeachment Inquiry of Trump

Former FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Former FBI Director James Comey, who joked that he’d move to New Zealand if Trump was re-elected, said the House of Representatives “has no choice but to pursue an impeachment inquiry.”

Comey blasted Trump’s call with Ukraine during a wide-ranging interview at the bipartisan Politicon political convention in Nashville, Tenn., on Saturday.

If he were still in charge of the FBI, Comey said he “might” launch a criminal investigation into whether Trump’s call with Ukraine’s president constituted a quid pro quo.

“If the news accounts are accurate, the president engaged in a shocking abuse of power,” Comey said.

But, he said, he wants to “withhold judgment” on impeachment until “we have a chance as a country to see public testimony to get the transparency we deserve.”

During the interview, Comey said he believes America is held together by a “set of values.” When asked if he’d still believe that if Trump was re-elected, Comey joked, “From my new home in New Zealand, I will still believe in America.”

Weekend Series on Crime History: All the President’s Men Revisted

Jeh Johnson: Trump’s Obsession with Immigration Is Undermining Homeland Security’s Focus

Former Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Few people understand the threats facing the U.S. better than Jeh Johnson, who served as secretary of Homeland Security from December 2013 to January 2017.

After his departure, President Trump has been unable to hold onto a Homeland Security secretary. His fourth secretary, Kevin McAleenan, is resigning at the end of the month.

In op-ed in the Washington Post, Johnson says there are two threats that “would keep him up at night:” The resurgence of ISIS is Syria, and Russia’s ongoing campaign to meddle in U.S. elections.

“Particularly in the current threat environment, our nation cannot afford a continued string of temporary, acting secretaries promoted from within the ranks of DHS to, as some would have it, simply receive and transmit orders from the White House,” Johnson wrote. “The job is one of the most complex and critical in the U.S. government.”

In Johnson’s view, Trump’s Homeland Security secretaries have been an “instrument for hammering the administration’s hard-line views on immigration,” while losing focus on “counterterrorism, cybersecurity, aviation security, maritime security, port security, the physical protection of our national leaders and U.S. government buildings, the detection of chemical, biological and nuclear threats to the homeland and the response to natural disasters.”

On Tuesday, former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen complained that Trump wanted things his way – and he could not take no for an answer.

Immigration hardliners were hoping Trump would appoint Mark Morgan, acting CBP commissioner, or Ken Cuccinelli, acting head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Turns out, they are ineligible by a federal law governing agency succession.

“The president should resist the temptation to nominate a pronounced hard-liner on immigration who will be a lightning rod to lead a Cabinet department already in the thick of political storms,” Johnson wrote.

His advice: “Fill the job with someone well qualified, and fill it soon, Mr. President. A president who leaves the job vacant for too long is neglecting his own duty to defend the homeland and keep the American people safe.”

DOJ’s Review of the Origins of the Trump Investigation Evolves into Criminal Probe

President Trump and AG William Barr, via DOJ.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

President Trump has long claimed, with no evidence, that the Russia investigation was a hoax and a “witch hunt.”

Now, two years later, the Justice Department’s inquiry into the origins of the probe has evolved into a criminal investigation.

Attorney General William Barr has turned over the investigation to John H. Durham, who will serve as the prosecutor with subpoena power over testimony and documents and the power to convene a grand jury, The New York Times reports.

In other words, the Justice Department is investigating itself over what Democrats say is unsubstantiated conspiracy theories.

Durham, a longtime prosecutor known for investigating CIA torture, will determine whether intelligence and law enforcement agencies acted within the law when they investigated possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Barr’s review of the Russia investigation began in May, when Barr said he had discussions with intelligence and law enforcement officials that led him to question the legitimacy of the investigation. At one point, Barr even described law enforcement’s actions as “spying” on the Trump campaign.

In an interview with Fox News in May, Barr said he had been pursuing questions about whether “government officials abused their power and put their thumb on the scale” to investigate the Russia link.

Since then, no credible evidence has been made public to suggest law enforcement acted inappropriately in investigating Trump’s campaign.

Honduran Woman Claims ICE Agent Raped Her for 7 Years, Impregnating Her 3 Times

Courtesy of ICE

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A Honduran woman living in Connecticut has accused an ICE agent of repeteadly raping and impregnating her for seven years, threatening to deport her if she didn’t do what he said, according to a federal lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges ICE Agent Wilfredo Rodriguez impregnated her three times and raped her up to four times a week.

“My only comment is that my client had a choice, cooperate with ICE or be deported with her family,” George Kramer, the woman’s lawyer, said in an email to the Associated Press. “She remains in a very fragile psychological state. She is not only seeking compensation for the physical and emotional damage she suffered but to change the way those who are cooperating with ICE are treated by those in a position of power and who often wield total control over the ability to remain in the United States.”

ICE declined to comment on the case but said Rodriguez no longer works at the agency.

According to the lawsuit, Rodriguez met the woman in 2006 and began demanding she become an informant to help deport undocumented immigrants.

A year later, she says, Rodriguez raped her at gunpoint. That was the beginning of seven years of sexual assault, the lawsuit states. During that period, she was impregnated three times and had an abortion each time.

According to the suit, she attempted suicide four times.

When Rodriguez left the agency, he warned her that “she and her family would pay” if she told authorities what happened.

She finally came forward last year when her husband applied for asylum. She confided in an agent, who suggested she consult an attorney.

Husband of Forensic FBI Photographer Called Person of Interest in Wife’s Death

Kathleen Miller, via Facebook.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The husband of a forensic FBI photographer from Alabama is a person of interest in the drowning death of his wife.

Authorities found 60-year-old Kathleen Miller, of Huntsville, Ala., in a shallow creek in the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina on Oct. 7.

Gregory Miller called 911 and calmly reported his wife, who had no health issues, had fallen in the creek.

“I tried to call for help. I need help,” the husband said in a 911 call obtained by WAAY-TV. “My wife has fallen in the water, and I couldn’t get her out. … I wish I could be of more help.”

The couple were camping at the park when Gregory Miller said his wife disappeared after saying she wanted to check out Santeetlah Creek. Her husband said he later discovered her body face down in the creek.

Several law enforcement agencies are investigating the case.