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More Than 1,000 TSA Employees Infected with Coronavirus

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

More than 1,000 TSA employees have tested for the coronavirus, and six have died, the agency revealed Thursday.

No federal agency has been hit harder by COVID-19 than the TSA, whose employee have close contact with the public.

The TSA will now require its employees to wear face shields while screening passengers. TSA employees also mush change their gloves after every interaction with the public.

The TSA has come under fire for failing to adequately protect its employees.

“Right now they’re bringing people back to work and the social distance is not in total effect,” Hydrick Thomas, president of the union that represents the officers, told The Washington Post. “Employees are still complaining there’s too many of them in one area.”

TSA employees have been infected at more than 125 airports.

Fired U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman Testifies Barr Repeatedly Pressured Him to Resign

Former U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Geoffrey Berman, the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York who was fired by President Trump, told lawmakers that Attorney General William Barr repeatedly pressured him to resign last month.

Berman, in a written statement to the House Judiciary Committee, said Barr suggested he take another job so Trump could replace him with a political ally. Berman, whose office was investigating Trump allies, said the job offers included the chairmanship of the Securities and Exchange Commission or head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.

“The Attorney General said that if I did not resign from my position I would be fired,” he said in his statement obtained by The Washington Post. “He added that getting fired from my job would not be good for my resume or future job prospects. I told him that while I did not want to get fired, I would not resign.”

Barr’s firing has drawn criticism from Democrats and legal experts who questioned why Barr was trying to remove an accomplished prosecutor from an office with a reputation for being independent and apolitical.

Barr is scheduled to testify before the committee in the end of July.

“We don’t know yet if the attorney general’s conduct is criminal, but that kind of quid pro quo is awfully close to bribery,” committee chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., told reporters after Berman testified.

5 Senior FBI Officials Violated Gift Policies by Attending Playoff Baseball Game, DOJ Watchdog Concludes

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Five senior FBI officials who attended a Los Angeles Dodgers playoff following a security briefing violated the bureau’s gift policies, the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General concluded.

The officials took up an offer to watch the game after the meeting had ended on October 15, 2018, The Hill reports.

“The officials held an executive management meeting at the table, discussed sensitive law enforcement information during the executive management meeting, and ate food from a buffet in the club that had a market value of more than $60 per person,” the OIG said in a statement on Wednesday.

“We found that two of the five FBI senior officials were primarily responsible for these violations. The OIG additionally concluded that one of the FBI senior officials violated FBI policy by consuming alcohol while on duty at the sporting event,” the watchdog added.

A more senior official who was found to be “primarily responsible” for the violations has been reassigned.

At the time, the FBI was investigating whether the team had bribed foreign officials in an attempt to smuggle players from Cuba.

Off-Duty Border Patrol Agent Killed in Car Crash in Texas

Border Patrol Agent Fernando Morales.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

An off-duty Border Patrol agent assigned to the Del Rio Sector was killed in a car crash Monday night in Texas.

Fernando Morales, 51, was driving a 2017 Volkswagen Passat on U.S. 277 near Del Rio when a 2016 Freightliner truck veered into oncoming traffic in a no-passing zone, KRQE reports.

“I am deeply saddened to inform you of the off duty death of Border Patrol Agent Fernando Morales,” Del Rio Sector Chief Patrol Agent Austin Skero tweeted Wednesday. “He is survived by his wife and four children. On behalf of our sector family, I extend my deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues as we mourn his passing.”

Morales is a native of El Paso and graduated from Irvin High School.

House Democrats Urge TSA to Require Masks at Security Checkpoints to Protect Employees, Travelers

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

House Democrats are urging the TSA to require face masks for travelers at airport security checkpoints to protect agency employees and others.

In a letter to TSA Administrator David Pekoske, Reps. Bennie Thompson and Lou Correa pointed out that nearly 1,000 TSA employees have tested positive for COVID-19 and seven died, Government Executive reports.

“We were pleased to see you fulfill part of that request when you announced on May 7th a requirement for TSA employees to wear masks. However, it is difficult to understand your hesitation to issue a national requirement for passenger masks to ensure that all frontline workers and passengers are equally protected across the aviation system,” they wrote.

The Democrats said mask requirements are a common sense approach to protecting frontline workers and travelers.

“The only controversy surrounding masks is a dangerous political one manufactured by President Trump and his enablers. There is a clear consensus among public health officials that masks are effective in curbing the spread of COVID-19,” they wrote. “TSA employees routinely enforce a number of requirements that are unpopular with the public, such as conducting invasive pat-downs and confiscating liquids, which you and your predecessors have deemed necessary to protect passengers.”

The TSA last month suggested there were no mask requirements because the CDC only recommends – not mandates – face coverings.

Man Sentenced to Nearly 13 Years in Prison in Ambush Shooting of ATF Agent

Bernard Anthony Graham

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A 27-year-old Illinois man was sentenced Tuesday to nearly 13 years in prison for his role in an ambush of ATF agents in Gary, Ind.

U.S. District Court Senior Judge James T. Moody sentenced Bernard Anthony Graham to 153 months in prison after he opened fire on two undercover agents during a botched gun buy in Gary, NWI.com reports.

An ATF agent was wounded during a shootout after Graham and two others tried to rob undercover agents masquerading as gun sellers.

Graham and Raymond Truitt, who died in the shootout, fire his gun at the agents.

For his role in the ambush, Blake King was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Stephen Belongia Named Special Agent in Charge of Buffalo Field Office

Special Agent Stephen Belongia.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Stephen Belongia has been named special agent in charge of the Buffalo Field Office in New York.

Belongia, who most recently served as the section chief of Cyber Readiness at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., first joined the bureau as a special agent in 1997 in the Phoenix Field Office, where he investigated criminal and counterterrorism issues.

While in Phoenix, Belongia became supervisor of a white-collar crime squad in 2010, focusing on investment and complex security frauds. He later led a counterterrorism squad.

In 2011, he was deployed to Iraq on a temporary assignment, investigating international contract corruption. In 2013, Belongia became an assistant legal attaché in Nairobi, Kenya, where he investigated, among other things, piracy and the terrorist attack on the Westgate shopping mall.

Belongia returned to Nairobi and began serving in the Human Resources Division at FBI headquarters, focusing on policy and administrative roles.

In 2017, Belongia was promoted to assistant special agent in charge of the Tampa Field Office in Florida, where he led the cyber, counterintelligence, human intelligence, technical, surveillance, intelligence, and administrative programs.

In 2019, Belongia was elevated to section chief of Cyber Readiness at FBI headquarters, working on a variety of tasks, including cyber education and training, human capital, strategic management, security, logistics, financial management, and workforce development. In addition, conceived and led several initiatives that included the FBI Cyber Academy, Cyber Pipeline, and the Cyber 2025 Strategic Review.

Before joining the bureau, Belongia earned a bachelor’s degree in business from California State University in Sacramento and a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Oxford. Before becoming a special agent, Belongia worked as a CPA for KPMG.