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Federal Incentives for Seizing Assets Encourages ‘Policing for Profit’

frozen-cash2By Editorial Board
Sentinel & Enterprise

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Rep. Tim Walberg of Michigan have introduced legislation to reform civil asset forfeiture, a practice by which law enforcement agencies seize the property and assets of individuals with minimal due process.

The practice has encouraged “policing for profit,” distorting the mission of police agencies toward revenue generation to the detriment of the property rights of Americans. Paul’s and Walberg’s bill should unite those concerned with upholding constitutional rights and justice more broadly.

The FAIR (Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration) Act, previously introduced by Paul in 2014, seeks to shore up the rights of Americans facing civil asset forfeiture proceedings and curb the perverse profit incentives that underline the practice.

“The federal government has made it far too easy for government agencies to take and profit from the property of those who have not been convicted of a crime,” said Paul. “The FAIR Act will protect Americans’ Fifth Amendment rights from being infringed upon by ensuring that government agencies no longer profit from taking the property of U.S. citizens without due process.”

Under current practices, federal agencies, often in partnership with state and local police departments, may seize a person’s cash, home or vehicle simply upon the suspicion that such assets were connected to criminal activity. One need not even be charged or convicted of a crime to have personal assets permanently seized.

All the government needs to do is meet the relatively low standard of a preponderance of the evidence to prevail in court — while innocent owners have the burden of trying to prove their innocence and bearing the costs of legally opposing government authorities.

This has created a situation where the federal government has seized billions of dollars in assets under questionable circumstances. According to the Institute for Justice, from 2001 to 2014, the forfeiture funds of the Department of Justice and Treasury Department took in nearly $29 billion. This provides financial incentive to both federal agencies and state and local partners, who get a cut of the money through “equitable sharing,” to increasingly focus on cases with revenue-generating potential.

To read more click here.  

FBI Plans to Launch Special Unit to Investigate Russian Interference in American Politics

The FBI's current headquarters in Washington D.C.

The FBI’s current headquarters in Washington D.C.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Showing how serious the FBI is about allegations of Russian interference in American politics, the bureau plans to create a special unit at its Washington D.C. headquarters to coordinate the probe.

The special unit also will give FBI Director James Comey “greater visibility into the investigations granular details,” the Financial Times reports.

“It’s meant to surge resources,” one FBI agent said.

The FBI also used temporary units to investigate WikiLeaks.

Because of the high-profile investigation of Russia and the massive amount of resources involved, the special unit allows the inquiry to have a central manager.

“It’s getting unwieldy,” said one person briefed on the plan. “It’s too big and it’s on the front page of the newspaper every day.” 

An FBI spokesman declined to comment.

FBI Recovers Norman Rockwell Painting Stole 40+ Years Ago

The stolen Norman Rockwell painting.

The stolen Norman Rockwell painting.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

More than 40 years after someone stole a Norman Rockwell painting from a family home in New Jersey, the artwork is back in the owners’ possession thanks to the FBI.

The painting of a chubby boy resting against a tree was a pized possession of the Grant family. Robert Grant paid just $50 or $100 for the painting, the New York Times reports. 

On Friday, one of Robert Grant’s sons, John, picked up the painting from an FBI agent at federal building in Philadelphia.

“It’s unbelievable,” Grant said. “The dream came true, and my dad would be so happy.”

On the 40th anniversary of the painting’s theft, the FBI issued a press release about the stolen painting, generating fresh attention.

It worked. An anonymous antique dealer turned over the painting. The dealer is not believed to be a suspect.

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Trump Defends Michael Flynn After He Offered to Testify Against the President

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

President Trump is defending former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s offer to testify in ongoing probes of Russian hacking of the 2016 election in exchange for legal immunity.

Trump wrote on Twitter early Friday morning that investigation had become “a witch hunt,” echoing language used by his former campaign adviser’s attorney.

Flynn’s lawyer told The Wall Street Journal one day earlier that the retired lieutenant general is willing to talk to the House and Senate intelligence panels as part of their probes into Russian election meddling and Trump and his aides’ alleged ties to Moscow. But any testimony or interview would have to come with a promise that Flynn would not be prosecuted.

FBI Releases New Batch of 9/11 Photos from Pentagon Attack

One of a recently released batch of photos of the 9/11. Photo via Wiki.

One of a recently released batch of photos of the 9/11. Photo via Wiki.

The FBI has released previously unseen photos of the aftermath of the 9/11 attack against the Pentagon.

The 27 photos were posted on the bureau’s website “FBI’s Records: The Vault.”

The American Airlines flight crashed after Al Qaeda terrorists gained control of the plane.

The new photos show interior damage, aerial perspectives and footage from the ground. 

Nearly 190 people were killed at the Pentagon.

Man Triggers Security Scare at White House, Says He Had Nuclear Weapon

white-houseBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A man who triggered a security scare outside the White House warned authorities that he had a component of a nuclear weapon and indicated it was a “threat to the president.”

Washington 4 reports that the suspect had previous run-ins with FBI.

Records indicated that Jean-Paul Gamarra, 40, was a drifter and arrested in Lafayette Park.

“Gamarra was asked if he had a bomb with him and Gamarra said no, he had a component to launch a nuclear weapon,” according to the investigator. “Gamarra said he was not there to harm President Trump.”

FBI Director Comey Said He Regrets handling of Clinton Investigation And Is Nonpartisan

FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director James Comey insisted Wednesday that the bureau is nonpartisan and that he’s not worried about the political storm that is brewing over the Russia investigation.

“I know that when I make a hard decision, a storm is going to follow,” Comey said at the Intelligence and National Security Alliance Leadership dinner, CNN reports. “Honestly, I don’t care.”

When asked about the decision to announce the reopening of an investigation of Hillary Clinton, Comey said he regretted his decision. 

“People sometimes look at me and say, ‘Look at what you did, look at what you did,'” Comey said. “Most people are wearing glasses that filter the world according to (their) side.”