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FBI Evidence-Handling Controls Considered Too Lax, Could Jeopardize Drug Cases

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Serious questions have been raised about the FBI’s evidence-handling controls that could be used by defense attorneys to seek reversals on convictions, The Washington Times reports.

The problem: The FBI doesn’t have video cameras in some of its evidence rooms, including the Washington field office.

The issue was raised by 13 defense attorneys handling a drug conspiracy case.

The attorneys made the revelation in court filings involving Matthew Lowry, an FBI agent accused of stealing seized heroin.

“If there’s a problem in the FBI evidence room, and it’s just a room with shelves and anybody can walk in and out, that would have huge implications as far as the trustworthiness of evidence,” defense lawyer A. Eduardo Balarezo said in an interview.

According to Balarezo, Lowry checked out evidence without any stated purpose.

While cameras aren’t required for evidence room, they are the best way to protect the integrity of evidence, said Joe Latta, executive director for the International Association for Property and Evidence Inc.

“If you look at general law enforcement, I’d say more don’t have video surveillance than do,” Latta said. “Should they? Absolutely. But the evidence room is sometimes low on the food chain in the organization.”

AG Eric Holder to Unveil Stiff New Racial Profiling Protocols After Ferguson

Attorney General Eric Holder in Orlando

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Speaking at a church where Martin Luther King once preached, Attorney General Eric Holder announced Monday that he soon will be unveiling stringent new protocols for reducing profiling by federal law enforcement, Time reports.

The new protocols would represent the first change to racial profiling guidelines on the federal level in more than a decade.

“In the coming days, I will announce updated Justice Department guidance regarding profiling by federal law enforcement, which will institute rigorous new standards—and robust safeguards—to help end racial profiling, once and for all,” Holder said at the first of several planned regional community discussions in the aftermath of the Ferguson grand jury decision. “This new guidance will codify our commitment to the very highest standards of fair and effective policing.”

Although President George W. Bush barred racial profiling through the Justice Department’s Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies, he left exemptions for national security.

Holder, who has said he was the target of racial profiling, said more changes are needed.

“We are dealing with concerns that are truly national in scope and that threaten the entire nation,” Holder told the thousands of attendees. “Broadly speaking, without mutual understanding between citizens–whose rights must be respected–and law enforcement officers–who make tremendous and often-unheralded personal sacrifices every day to preserve public safety–without that trust, without that interaction, there can be no meaningful progress. Our police officers cannot be seen as an occupying force disconnected from the communities they serve. Bonds that have been broken must be restored. Bonds that never existed must now be created.”

Homeland Security Secretary Johnson to Defend President Obama’s Immigration Orders

Jeh Johnson

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has a tough task ahead – defending President Obama’s executive order on immigration to combative Republicans.

Fox News reports that Johnson is set to appear today before the House Homeland Security Committee to discuss the executive actions.

“The reality is that, given our limited resources, these people are not priorities for removal. It’s time we acknowledge that and encourage them to be held accountable,” Johnson said in prepared testimony. “This is simple common sense.”

The aim of the executive actions is to end deportation of nearly 5 million immigrants whose children are citizens or have green card holders.

Some Democrats fear Republicans will block funding to block Obama’s actions.

“The president’s decision to bypass Congress and grant amnesty to millions of unlawful immigrants is unconstitutional and a threat to our democracy,” the Homeland Security Committee chairman, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said in a statement. “I will use every tool at my disposal to stop the president’s unconstitutional actions from being implemented, starting with this oversight hearing.”

Other Stories of Interest

 


FBI Helps Search for College Student Who Has Been Missing for 4 Days

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The FBI is helping search for a college student who has gone missing for four days in Philadelphia.

CBS Philly reports that the bureau’s Violent Crime Task Force is getting involved.

Supervisory Special Agent J.J. Klaver said the search won’t be easy.

“It’s a real challenge,” Klaver said. “Looking for video from surveillance cameras. Trying to determine from the missing the person’s cell phone where they were last using the phone. Interviewing as many people as we can.”

Shane Montgomery was last seen with friends on Thanksgiving Eve, when he was kicked out of a bar for bumping into a bar stool, CBS Philly reported.

FBI Warns Military Members That ISIS Wants to Attack Them at Home

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The FBI issued a strong warning Sunday that ISIS and other terrorist groups want to target military members where they live in the U.S., ABC News reports.

The FBI and Homeland Security issued a join intelligence bulletin, urging military members to remove anything from their social media accounts that would bring attention to extremists or reveal their identities

“The FBI and DHS recommend that current and former members of the military review their online social media accounts for any information that might serve to attract the attention of ISIL [ISIS] and its supporters,” the federal bulletin sent to law enforcement agencies said, advising that troops “routinely exercise operational security in their interactions online.”

The FBI said fresh intelligence suggests that ISIS wants to encourage sympathizers to attack American military members in the U.S.

“The FBI recently received reporting indicating individuals overseas are spotting and assessing like-minded individuals who are willing and capable of conducting attacks against current and former U.S.-based members of the United States military,” the bulletin said.

 

Justice Department Prepares to Turn Over Nearly 30,000 Emails in IRS Probe

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Did the IRS improperly disclose taxpayer information to the White House?

It has been a question that is more than a year old but may finally yield an answer after the Justice Department said it is close releasing thousands of documents related to the IRS investigation, International Business Times reports.

The Justice Department reportedly could release nearly 30,000 emails between a White House policy adviser and a former IRS official.

The potentially inappropriate exchange surfaced in 2013 when The Daily Caller reported that the White House and IRS officials exchanged confidential information about a conservative group aiming to abolish the contraception mandate with Obamacare.

The allegations are part of larger claims that the IRS was targeting conservative groups seeking tax exemptions.

Questions Linger a Year After Woman Fatally Shot by Secret Service in Washington D.C.

secret service photo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

A year after Secret Service agents fatally shot Mariam Carey in Washington D.C., many of the circumstances leading to her death remain a mystery, Gawker reports.

The 34-year-old dental hygienist from Connecticut made a U-turn at a White House checkpoint before she was gunned down by the Secret Service and Capitol police.

A chase began when she forced her way past a portable barrier. Some media reports indicate she never tried to ram through a barrier.

Her 1-year-old daughter was in the car with her.

The official claims are that Carey prompted a “high-speed chase,” but media estimates put her average speed at 19.5 mph.

What remains a mystery is how she ended up in a car chase. Family said she was a loving mother and carried a stable job.

Other Stories of Interest

David Laufman To Oversee Justice Department’s Increased Counterespionage Efforts

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

David Laufman, an experienced former federal prosecutor, will take over the Justice Department’s counterespionage efforts as part of a larger restructuring to put more of a focus on cyber attacks, Reuters reports.

Laufman is expected to begin his job today as chief of the counterespionage section of the Justice Department’s national security division.

Laufman is returning to government work after joining the private sector. He’s worked as a CIA analyst, a congressional insider and in the early 2000s a senior Justice Department official under George W. Bush.

The Justice Department is trying to get a handle on growing cyber threats and violations of export control laws, Reuters wrote.