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Timothy Waters Named Special Agent in Charge of Detroit Field Office

Timothy Waters, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office.

By Steve Neavling

Timothy Waters has been tapped to serve as special agent in charge of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office, where he began his career with the bureau two decades ago.  

Waters, who most recently served as the deputy assistant director of the Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG) in Virginia, joined the FBI in 2000, working as a special agent investigating white-collar crime in the Detroit Field Office. 

Following the 9/11 attack, Waters started working counterterrorism and was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan to support military and intelligence community operations in 2005 and 2006.

Waters became a supervisory special agent in 2017 and led a section of Detroit’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. One of his investigations included the attempted bombing of an airplane at Metro Airport in Detroit on Christmas 2009. 

In 2010, Waters became the legal attaché in Islamabad. 

He returned to Detroit in 2011, serving as supervisor of a Joint Terrorism Task Force that focused on al Qaeda and al Qaeda-inspired terrorists.

In 2014, Waters became assistant special agent in charge of administrative matters in Detroit and was reassigned in 2016 as the assistant special agent in charge of Detroit’s National Security Branch, making him responsible for all counterterrorism, cyber, counterintelligence, and weapons of mass destruction investigations in Michigan.

In 2019, Waters began serving as the director of the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force, an FBI-led, multi-agency squad in charge of coordinating, integrating, and sharing cyber threat information. 

Earlier this year, he was named deputy assistant director of CIRG, where he helped lead the FBI’s response to critical incidents worldwide.

Before joining the FBI, Waters served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army for eight years. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, earning a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering. He later earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

ATF Agent Sues Columbus Police Department, Accusing Officers of Excessive Force

By Steve Neavling

An ATF agent has sued the Columbus Police Department and two of its officers who he says used excessive force against him while he was on a “routine” assignment.

The federal lawsuit alleges the two officers pointed guns at Agent James Burk, tasered him, and placed him in the back of a cruiser on July 7, even though his ATF ID cart was around his neck and his credentials in his pocket, The Columbus Dispatch reports

Burk, a 16-year veteran of the ATF, said he was working in his official capacity when he knocked on the door of a home to seize a gun from someone who was not permitted to possess a firearm.  

A person inside the home called 911 when Burk knocked on the door. The caller refused to answer the door and read Burk’s badge number to the dispatcher, who advised the person to not answer the door while police officers Joseph Fihe and Kevin Winchell were dispatched to the scene. 

“When Fihe arrived at the scene, Agent Burk stood outside the home’s front door and waved the officer over to where he was standing,” the lawsuit states. “Even though Agent Burk had both hands raised and had represented that he is a federal agent, officer Fihe immediately drew his weapon and pointed it … while simultaneously screaming at (Burk) to get on the ground.”

As Burk told the officers his credentials were in his pocket, they pointed their guns at him and “climbed on his back while violently twisting and pulling his arms to handcuff him.”

According to the lawsuit, Burk was not resisting when he was tasered and placed in the back of the police car. 

Burk was released after about an hour.  

“Agent Burk acted lawfully and posed no immediate threat to officers Fihe and Winchell or anyone else,” the lawsuit said. “Agent Burk did not resist the officers, attempt to flee from their custody or display any physical aggressiveness towards them.” 

After suffering physical and psychological injuries, Burk was placed on an administrative role within ATF. 

The police department declined to comment on the case, citing pending litigation. 

Supreme Court Says Muslim Placed on No-Fly List May Sue FBI agents for Damages

U.S. Supreme Court

By Steve Neavling

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that three Muslim men may sue individual FBI agents for damages after they were placed or kept on the government’s no-fly list because they refused to become government informants. 

In a unanimous decision, the court wrote that Muhammad Tanvir, Jameel Algibhah and Naveed Shinwari, who are U.S. residents and were never suspected of illegal activity, may seek damages under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, USA Today reports.

“A person whose exercise of religion has been unlawfully burdened may ‘obtain appropriate relief against a government,'” Associate Justice Clarence Thomas wrote, quoting the federal law and saying the term ‘government’ extends to individual officials.

“A damages remedy is not just ‘appropriate’ relief as viewed through the lens of suits against government employees. It is also the only form of relief that can remedy some (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) violations,” Thomas wrote.

The men were eventually removed from the no-fly list but said they lost income, as well as money spent on airline tickets. 

It’s just the latest case in which the Supreme Court recently defended religious freedom. 

Man Shoots Himself Outside FBI’s San Diego Field Office

FBI’s San Diego Field Office. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

A man shot himself outside of the FBI’s San Diego Field Office on Wednesday  after displaying a handgun. 

At about 4 p.m., FBI agents responded to the scene, where the bureau said the man appeared to be suicidal. 

FBI crisis negotiators, bomb techs and SWAT agents were on the way when the man turned the gun on himself. 

“Agents rendered medical aid and paramedics were called,” the FBI said in a statement. “The man is being transported to the nearest medical facility and the scene is secure.”

The FBI and San Diego Police Department are investigating. 

It was not immediately clear whether the man survived the self-inflicted shooting. 

FBI Accused of Sweeping Sexual Misconduct Cases ‘Under the Rug’

Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

At least six high-ranking FBI officials have been accused of sexual misconduct in the past five years, and none was disciplined, according to an Associated Press investigation.

Two of the ranking agents were accused of sexual assault this week. 

In each case, the FBI officials retained their full pensions and benefits, even when the allegations were substantiated. Further, after the investigations were over, FBI officials maintained their anonymity and were able to get jobs in the private sector or remain in federal law enforcement. 

“They’re sweeping it under the rug,” said a former FBI analyst who filed a federal lawsuit, alleging a supervisory special agent licked her face and groped her at a colleague’s farewell party in 2017. 

“As the premier law enforcement organization that the FBI holds itself out to be, it’s very disheartening when they allow people they know are criminals to retire and pursue careers in law enforcement-related fields,” said the woman, who asked to be identified in this story only by her first name, Becky.

Some advocacy groups and members of Congress are calling for an investigation of the FBI’s disciplinary process. 

“They need a #MeToo moment,” U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat, said.

“It’s repugnant, and it underscores the fact that the FBI and many of our institutions are still good ol’-boy networks,” Speier said. “It doesn’t surprise me that, in terms of sexual assault and sexual harassment, they are still in the Dark Ages.”

The FBI said in a statement that it “maintains a zero-tolerance policy toward sexual harassment,” adding that high-ranking agents have been forced out of their positions while allegations are under investigation. 

In one case, an assistant FBI director was accused of sexually assaulting a female subordinate in a stairwell. In another case, a high-ranking FBI official was accused of sexually harassing eight employees. 

Judge Dismisses Flynn’s Case, But Was Not Happy About It

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

By Steve Neavling

A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed the three-year-old criminal case against Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, following  Trump’s pardon last month. 

But U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan took a parting shot, saying the pardon doesn’t make Flynn innocent, The Washington Post reports.

“President Trump’s decision to pardon Mr. Flynn is a political decision, not a legal one,” Sullivan wrote. “Because the law recognizes the President’s political power to pardon, the appropriate course is to dismiss this case as moot.”

“However,” Sullivan added, “the pardon ‘does not, standing alone, render [Flynn] innocent of the alleged violation.’ ”

Flynn was the target of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia. But he later fired his attorneys and asked to withdraw his guilty plea, claiming he was entrapped by the FBI and Justice Department.

Sullivan also said he “likely” would have rejected the Justice Department’s efforts to dismiss the case, saying the federal government’s intervention was “dubious to say the least.”

Trump celebrated the dismissal on Twitter. 

“Thank you and congratulations to General Flynn,” Trump tweeted. “He and his incredible family have suffered greatly!”

Flynn responded, “You and your family & our entire nation have suffered greatly and it has to stop. The American people deserve far greater respect from the institutions of our own Government and the Media!”

Jones, Garland Emerge As Biden’s Top Picks for Attorney General

Alabama Sen. Doug Jones.

By Steve Neavling

President-elect Joe Biden appears to have two leading contenders for attorney general: Alabama Sen. Doug Jones and federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, The Associated Press reports, citing three people familiar with the matter.

But sources have emphasized that no final decision has been made, and the top picks could change. Sally Gates ,the former deputy attorney general, was long believed to be a top potential pick. 

Jones, who was defeated in the November election, has emerged as the top choice, according to NBC News.

President Clinton appointed Jones in 1997 to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. He emerged as champion for civil rights, successfully prosecuting two former KKK members for a 1963 bombing that killed four Black girls at a church in Birmingham. 

Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

His relationship with Biden dates back to at least 1998, when he helped Biden on his first presidential campaign in 1998. 

Garland, whom Obama nominated to fill a vacant U.S. Supreme Court seat in 2016, served as special assistant to Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti during the Carter administration from 1979 to 1981. Garland became U.S. attorney general in Washington D.C. in 1989 and then deputy assistant attorney general in the Criminal Division of the Justice Department in 1993. 

In 1997, the Senate confirmed Garland’s nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. In 2013, he became the chief judge of the D.C. Circuit. 

Carl E. Landrum Appointed Deputy Chief Border Patrol Agent for the Laredo Sector

Carl Landrum, deputy chief Border Patrol agent for the Laredo Sector in Texas.

By Steve Neavling

Carl E. Landrum has been tapped to serve as deputy chief Border Patrol agent for the Laredo Sector in Texas. 

Since joining Border Patrol in 1996, Landum has served in numerous supervisory and command positions, including special agent with the Federal Air Marshal Service in New York City and assistant chief patrol agent at Border Patrol headquarters in Washington D.C.

In 2011, Landrum was promoted to patrol agent in charge of the Cotulla Border Patrol Station in Texas, and in 2012, he became patrol agent in charge of the Laredo North Border Patrol Station. 

In 2014, Landum was promoted to division chief at the Laredo Sector. He also created the Department of Homeland Security Joint Task Force West in San Antonio. 

In 2016, he became deputy chief patrol agent of the Yuma Sector. 

Before joining Border Patrol, Landrum received a bachelor’s degree of science in information systems from the University of Phoenix. He earned a master’s degree in strategic studies form the U.S. Army War College and became the first civilian to attend the school’s Advanced Strategic Art Program.

The Laredo Sector covers over more than 84,000 square miles in 96 counties from the U.S.-Mexico border to the borders of Texasand Oklahoma and Arkansas and has more than 1,900 employees. The Laredo Sector has nine stations: Laredo North, Laredo South, Laredo West, Zapata, Cotulla, Hebbronville, Freer, San Antonio, and Dallas.