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Lengel: The Terrible Message President Obama is Sending About ATF and the U.S. Marshals Service

president obama- white house photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Imagine if you will, if there was an interim director of the FBI and President Barack Obama announced that he wasn’t going to bother nominating the interim director to a permanent post because he didn’t want to expend the political capital and energy.

Imagine the message that would send: Presumably that the FBI wasn’t worth the trouble, that it wasn’t worth the effort, that it wasn’t really that important of a law enforcement agency.

Well, The Hill newspaper reports that Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that the President wasn’t going to nominate U.S. Marshals Service Acting Director David Harlow nor interim ATF head Thomas Brandon for a Senate confirmation. That means both will be deputy directors.

It not only sends a message to the agencies and its workers that “you’re not that important,” it also sends the same message to lawmakers on Capitol Hill, who set their budgets, and to the public at large.

The U.S. Marshals Service transports prisoners, hunts fugitives and protects federal courthouses and judges. Sounds pretty important to me.

ATF enforces our gun laws and investigates explosions. That also sounds pretty important.

Interestingly, at a time when President Barack Obama is shouting from the mountain tops about the importance of cracking down on gun violence, he’s whispering behind closed doors that ATF, which could help in the battle,  is not a very high priority to him.

President Obama and Attorney General Loretta Lynch need to step up and defend their law enforcement agencies.

It’s the right thing to do.

FBI Director Names New Assistant Director of Counterintelligence Division in Washington D.C.

fbi badgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

E.W. “Bill” Priestap, a 17-year veteran of the FBI, has been named assistant director of the Counterintelligence Division at the bureau’s headquarters in Washington D.C.

Priestap was serving as deputy assistant director of the Intelligence Operations Branch in the Directorate of Intelligence at FBI headquarter.

Priestap began his career with the FBI in 1998, investigating organized crime and drug issues in the Chicago Division. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Priestap handled counterterrorism investigations in Chicago.

Priestap has a long history with the FBI, according to the bureau:

In 2003, Mr. Priestap was promoted to supervisory special agent in the Office of Congressional Affairs (OCA) at FBIHQ. While in OCA, he was detailed to the U.S. Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, where he assisted with the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.

In 2005, Mr. Priestap was appointed the special assistant to the assistant director of the Directorate of Intelligence at FBIHQ.

In 2006, Mr. Priestap was assigned to the New York Field Office, where he held counterterrorism and intelligence supervisory positions. He was then promoted to assistant special agent in charge, and he served in the Intelligence and the Counterintelligence Divisions of the New York Field Office.

In 2012, Mr. Priestap was promoted to section chief in the Counterintelligence Division at FBIHQ, and, in 2013, Mr. Priestap was named special agent in charge of the Counterintelligence Division in the New York Field Office.

Justice And Labor Departments Team Up to Crack Down on Employers with Unsafe Working Conditions

Justice-Department-DanangBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An average of 13 workers die on the job a day, often because of unsafe working conditions.

Now the Justice and Labor Departments are bolstering efforts to crack down on employers who put the lives and health of their workers at risk, Construction & Demolition Recycling reports. 

“On an average day in America, 13 workers die on the job, thousands are injured and 150 succumb to diseases they obtained from exposure to carcinogens and other toxic and hazardous substances while they worked,” said Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates. “Given the troubling statistics on workplace deaths and injuries, the Department of Justice is redoubling its efforts to hold accountable those who unlawfully jeopardize workers’ health and safety.”

Department of Labor Deputy Secretary Chris Lu added, “Safety and security in the workplace are a shared commitment. Workplace injuries and illnesses cause an enormous amount of physical, financial and emotional hardship for workers and their families and underscore the urgent need for employers to provide a safe workplace for their employees.”

Both departments began meeting last year to team up to prosecute more cases of worker endangerment violations.

Senior Homeland Security Official Flip-Flops on Gun Sales to People on Terrorist Watch List

gunsBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A senior Homeland Security official who suggested last week that President Obama’s plan to ban firearm sales to people on the government’s terrorist watch list was misguided has taken an entirely different tone, the Washington Times reports. 

Alan Bersin seemed to undermine Obama’s proposed ban in sworn testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, saying that he didn’t think it would be appropriate to ban gun sales based on one’s presence on the terrorist watch list.

Bersin was repeating the opinions of many Republicans who feel it’s a violation of the Second Amendment to create such a ban because of the lower standards of evidence to place someone on the no-fly list.

But following the testimony, Bersin issued a statement that he agrees with President Obama and Democrats that a ban is needed because of the dangers of terrorism.

“To be clear, it is the administration’s position that Congress should act to make sure no one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun. This is a matter of national security and common sense, and it is a position I and the department support,” Mr. Bersin said in the statement.

Some Republicans lashed out, saying Bersin was likely pressured to change his tone.

“I think he said what he meant, and his bosses weren’t happy with that answer. We’ve seen that multiple times from this administration,” Rep. Blake Farenthold, a Texas Republican, told the Washington Times.

President Obama Won’t Nominate Interim ATF, U.S. Marshals Service Heads for Confirmation to Permanent Posts

ATF head Thomas Brandon.

ATF head Thomas Brandon.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Obama has decided he won’t nominate permanent leaders to head the ATF and U.S. Marshals Service, The Hill reports.

That means that the interim department heads will stay in their positions until the end of Obama’s administration next year, the Justice Department announced Monday.

That decision means that neither U.S. Marshals Service Acting Director David Harlow nor interim ATF head Thomas Brandon will face Senate confirmation hearings.

It was expected that confirmation hearings would be difficult and timely, “especially as scrutiny ramps up in the months ahead of next year’s presidential election,” The Hill wrote.

Together, they “have demonstrated themselves to be outstanding public servants and extraordinary partners in the work of building a stronger, safer nation,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement announcing the decision not to seek Senate-confirmed replacements.

Man Accused of Helping San Bernardino Attackers Was Quiet Nerd And Recent Convert of Islam

Enrique Marquez, via Facebook.

Enrique Marquez, via Facebook.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

To many people who knew him, Enrique Marquez was a quiet nerd who worked at Walmart and was a part-time security guard at a bar.

About a month before the San Bernardino massacre, Marquez left a bizarre Facebook post: “No one really knows me. I lead multiple lives and I’m wondering when it’s all going to collapse on me.”

Marquez, it turns out, was a childhood friend and neighbor Syed Rizwan Farook, who opened fire with his wife at a holiday party in San Bernardino, CNN reports.

The 24-year-old is accused of illegally purchasing a pair of rifles that Farook and his wife used in the attack.

A 36-page affidavit by the FBI depicted Marquez as a recent convert to Islam who transformed into a potential terrorist plotting several attacks, including a massacre at a community college and a pipe bomb and rifle attack during rush hour on a Southern California freeway.

The affidavit explained that Marquez began buying guns and ammunition in late 2011 as he prepared an attack. He and Farook trained together at local firing ranges.

FBI Investigates Whether Pennsylvania Man Accused of Supporting ISIS Communicated with Terrorists

Jalil Ibn Ameer Aziz

Jalil Ibn Ameer Aziz

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Days after they FBI arrested a 19-year-old Pennsylvania man accused of using 57 social media accounts to promote ISIS, their attention has turned to whether he was acting alone or had acquaintances, Penn Live reports.

“The goal is to find out who he’s been dealing with in order to see if there are others in the U.S. or outside the U.S.,” said John Weaver, an intelligence analysis coordinator and assistant professor of intelligence analysis at York College. “The FBI is probably exploiting his phone records and computers to find out who he talked to, what sites he went to, what messages were sent and received.”

To determine whether Jalil Ibn Ameer Aziz had help or was receiving information from terrorists, the FBI is combing through his social media counts and text messages, which have been how many would-be terrorists are communicating.

“By identifying one individual, they can possibly identify a network,” said Charles Palmer, an associate professor of interactive media at Harrisburg University.

But the concern is that the messages may have been encrypted.

“There are a lot of ways computer forensic experts can pull information off of a computer. If it’s encrypted, all they’re pulling is a bunch of jibberish,” said Chuck Davis, corporate faculty professor of computer forensics and ethical hacking at Harrisburg University.

Was Uber’s Competitor Responsible for Data Breach? Justice Department Investigates

uberBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department is investigating a 2014 data breach at Uber to determine whether its competitor, Lyft, or any of its employees were involved, Reuters reported. 

The probe is focused on a breach that led to 50,000 Uber drivers’ names and their license plates numbers being illegally downloaded.

Uber’s investigation revealed that Lyft’s technology chief, Chris Lambert, may have been involved because an internet addresses in the case can be traced to him.

Lambert’s attorney, Miles Ehrlich, said his client “had nothing to do” with the breach.

“Given that Uber apparently lost driver data, a law enforcement investigation is to be expected,” Ehrlich said. “And the benefit is that the culprit here is going to be identified – and that’s going to remove Chris’ name from any conversation about Uber’s data breach, as it should.”

Lyft said in a statement Friday that “we have not been contacted by the DOJ, U.S. Attorney’s office or any other state or federal government agency regarding any investigation.”