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Homeland Security Candidate Distances Self from Trump on Border Wall, Russia

Marine Gen. John Kelly

Marine Gen. John Kelly

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President-elect Donald Trump and his nominee for secretary of Homeland Security don’t see eye to eye on two critical issues.

During his confirmation hearing Tuesday, retired Marine Corps General John Kelly expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of a border wall and said that he agrees “with high confidence” that Russia tried to influence the presidential race, Bloomberg reports.  

“A physical barrier in and of itself will not do the job” at the border, Kelly said. Instead, he favors a “layered defense,” including the use of border patrol agents and technology such as drones that would work in “places that perhaps the wall can’t be built or will be built any time soon.”

Kelly said he’s talked about the wall with Trump “only briefly.”

If confirmed, Kelly would be the first former general to lead Homeland Security since it was created in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001 terror attack.

“I have never had a problem speaking truth to power, and I firmly believe that those in power deserve full candor and my honest assessment and recommendations,” Kelly said in his opening statement.

Lawsuit: Border Patrol Destroyed Surveillance of Conditions at Detention Facilities

A overcrowded, cold detention facility in Tucson.

A overcrowded, cold detention facility in Tucson.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Border Patrol officials are accused in a lawsuit of destroying surveillance footage of poor conditions inside detention facilities in Arizona.

The National Immigration Law Center filed a motion Monday that alleged Border Patrol knowingly recorded over videos and handed over unwatchable footage, BuzzFeed reports. 

“This is yet another example of an agency going out of its way to keep the horrible conditions in these facilities out of the public eye,” Karen Tumlin, managing attorney for NILC, told BuzzFeed News.

Border Patrol officials declined to comment.

The facilities are used for detainees who are caught illegally crossing the border.

Photos released in August showed poor conditions at the facilities.

Other Stories of Interest

Florida Airport Shooter Told FBI He Had ‘Terroristic Thoughts’ 2 Months Ago

Esteban Santiago

Esteban Santiago

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Armed with a loaded handgun, Esteban Santiago walked into an FBI office in Anchorage, Alaska, two months ago and said he had “terroristic thoughts” and was being forced by the CIA to watch ISIS videos.

The FBI handed him to local police, and he was taken to a mental health facility and his handgun was seized, NBC News reports. 

Four days later, police returned his gun, and Santiago was a free man.

Last week, Santiago opened fire at the Fort Lauderdale airport, killing five people and wounding eight.

If the FBI took the threat more seriously, Santiago may have never carried out the shooting.

But FBI officials counter that Santiago’s interactions in Alaska were a routine reality for the bureau, occurring nearly every day.

“Guidelines governing the evaluation of potential terrorist threats need to be adjusted so that the FBI has greater flexibility when assessing the risk posed by someone who has been brought to their attention,” said John Cohen, a Rutgers University professor and former counter terrorism coordinator at the Department of Homeland. “Behavioral assessment protocols and threat management strategies have proven highly effective in preventing assassinations school shootings and other acts of violence, and those same tools should be available on a consistent basis to counter terrorism investigators.”

AG Candidate Jeff Sessions Expected to Be Grilled During Senate Hearing Today

Jeff Sessions

Jeff Sessions

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for attorney general is expected to face fierce scrutiny Tuesday during his confirmation hearing.

Democrats, who are worried about Sessions’ civil rights record, plan to grill him on race, women’s rights and prosecutorial conduct, CNN reports. 

Despite what is expected to be a grueling two days of interrogations, Sessions likely will be confirmed because Republicans hold a majority in the Senate, and no GOP senator has openly criticized the AG candidate.

During the hearing, Sessions is expected to reveal his priorities for the Justice Department, and those likely will include combatting rising crime and addiction rates and terrorism. 

In 1986, Sessions was denied a federal judgeship following confirmation hearings that revealed he allegedly made racist remarks.

Anniston Star: Why Democrats Should Grill Sessions During Confirmation Hearing

US CapitolBy Editorial Board
Anniston Star

In October, after the exposure of a 2005 videotape featuring Donald Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women, U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, numbered among the Trump surrogates defending the candidate’s crude and creepy remarks.

There was hardly a more thankless task than trying to explain away Trump casually describing how he gets away with the unsolicited grabbing of women’s genitals.

Yet, Sessions gamely tried. Yes, the senator noted this was “very improper language.” But he also attempted to lawyer away what is and is not sexual assault. Here’s a handy definition from the Justice Department: “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.”

In the aftermath of the release of the videotape, Sessions let it be known he thought the reaction was “overblown.” A typical citizen might wonder if it’s possible to overblow a tape where a major-party candidate uses vulgar language to describe female genitals. Not Sessions, though, he played the good soldier for his candidate.

This week, the Senate considers Sessions’ worthiness to serve as the next U.S. attorney general. Hearings are scheduled for today and Wednesday.

We suggest senators focus on the Trump videotape episode from October, particularly Sessions’ defense of the indefensible.

If he becomes attorney general, Sessions and the Justice Department will be tested unlike any other in modern history.

To read more click here. 

FBI Investigating Flurry of Bomb Threats at Jewish Centers in U.S.

Star of David.

Star of David.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is investigating a flurry of bomb threats reported at Jewish centers in the U.S. and Britain on Monday.

The bomb threats continued to trickle in as the FBI began investigating, the Washington Post reports.

The threats occurred in places such as the Alper Jewish community campus in the Miami-Dade area and a center in Tenafly, N.J.

At least a dozen threats were reported in the U.S. on Monday.

“It’s disturbing,” said Elise Jarvis, who directs the Anti-Defamation League’s security programs.

It’s unclear what prompted the unusual number of bomb threats.

Trump’s Pick for Homeland Security Secretary to Make Case for Confirmation

Marine Gen. John Kelly

Marine Gen. John Kelly

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump’s pick for Homeland Security secretary pledged to commit to diversity and tolerance if confirmed during a Senate hearing beginning Tuesday.

Retired Marine Gen. John Kelly is likely to be grilled about his positions following President-elect Donald Trump’s divisive, controversial statements about immigrants, Mexicans and Muslims.

Kelly will testify before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.

“I believe in America and the principles upon which our country and way of life are guaranteed. I believe in respect, tolerance, and diversity of opinion. I have a profound respect for the rule of law and will always strive to uphold it,” Kelly plans to tell the panel, Politico reports. “I have never had a problem speaking truth to power, and I firmly believe that those in power deserve full candor and my honest assessment and recommendations.”

Kelly plans to you his military experience and roll as a military adviser.

Other Stories of Interest

Parker: Two New Drugs Targeted in Opioid Epidemic Battle

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office. 

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

The fight against the opioid epidemic has targeted two new recreational drugs being used on the streets as substitutes for heroin and fentanyl. Both U-4700 and Kratom have been on DEA’s radar screen, as well as US Poison Control Centers, in the last few months because of their increased use in 2016, their potential for abuse and health dangers.

Ross Parker

Ross Parker

U-4700, a synthetic opioid, is known on the streets as “44,” and “pink” and until recently has been easily available on the internet. It has been reported that it contributed to the death of rock star Prince last summer. It was originally developed for use in the 1970s as an analgesic, but it has many times the strength of morphine.

Last month DEA classified it under Schedule I as presenting an imminent hazard to the public safety.

Kratom, known on the streets as “Ketum,” thang” and other names, is actually an herb that has been used as a recreational drug for several years. Poison Center calls about overdoses have greatly increased this past year. The drug continues to be freely available on the internet and has no age restrictions on purchasing.

However, Kratom has increasingly been found in combinations with opioids in cases of overdoses, and it can independently produce symptoms such as tachycardia, nausea, and hypertension.

DEA’s journey toward its regulation in the last few months presents an interesting study in the agency’s frustrations over getting drugs that are contributing to the opioid epidemic off the streets. DEA originally announced its intention to classify it under Schedule I, but physicians and scientists complained to Congressmen that it has legitimate medical value. These members urged DEA to delay the ban for a period of public comment, which is presently under way. DEA placed it on the Drugs of Concern List and is continuing to consider its appropriate classification.

This report relied on articles from Medscape Internal Medicine (12/9/16), Forbes (8/22/16), and the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association (12/16).