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Chad Wolf Becomes 5th Homeland Security Leader under President Trump

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Department of Homeland Security has its fifth leader under President Trump with the appointment of Chad Wolf as acting secretary.

After Wolf was sworn in Thursday, he named immigration hard-liner and acting head of ICE Ken Cuccinelli as his deputy.

Wolf replaces acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, who resigned earlier this month after leading the agency for about six months.

Wolf served as chief of staff under former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

Leading Homeland Security has been no easy task because Trump has demanded a secretary whose focus is clearly on immigration, which is only one part of the multi-faceted agency.

FBI Study on ‘Lone Offender Terrorism’ Reveals Common Traits Among Attackers

Terrorism exercise in Portland. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A new FBI study examining “lone offender terrorism” found common traits that could help identify future attackers.

Of the 52 examined cases between 1972 and 2015, 83% were carried out by people who had previously exhibited hostility or aggression, according to the 81-page report. In all of the cases, people around the attackers expressed concern over their behavior.

In 96% of the cases, the offender produced a video, blog or letter that was intended to be viewed by others.

“Absent this report and others like it, someone could see something and they’re solely relying on their gut feeling or spider sense to say, ‘That doesn’t look right,’ or ‘That’s concerning,’” Special Agent John Wyman, chief of the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU)’s Behavioral Threat Assessment Center, which conducted the research, said. “I think by putting this information out there, it helps people get over that barrier. It gives you something to fall back on to validate whatever your gut feeling was.”

The study found that half of the cases were motivated by anti-government extremism. Other significant motivators were racial extremism and Islamist violence.

All of the attackers were men, mostly white and a vast majority born in the U.S. Most were single and had free time to focus on the attacks and their grievances.

Justice Department Launches Plan to Crack Down on Gun Violence

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department unveiled a nationwide initiative aimed at reducing gun violence and enforcing federal firearm laws.

Dubbed “Project Guardian,” the five-point plan includes coordinated prosecution, enforcement of firearm laws and background checks, improved information sharing, coordinated response to mental health denials, and crime gun intelligence coordination.

The plan calls for strengthening partnerships among the ATF, federal prosecutors, and state and local law enforcement to enforce existing laws.

The deputy attorney general is tasked with overseeing the implementation of the plan.

“I know you share my grave concern regarding the gun violence that has plagued our communities and that you are committed to preventing gun violence whenever possible,” Attorney General William Barr said in a news release. “By initiating Project Guardian, we take an important step in increasing the safety and security of our communities. I look forward to hearing in the coming months about your implementation of this program, which will help make our country a safer place for all.”

Chad Wolf Moves Closer to Becoming Trump’s Fifth Homeland Security Secretary

Chad Wolf

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Chad Wolf is closer to becoming President Trump’s fifth Homeland Security secretary.

The Senate voted primarily along party lines to move forward on Wolf’s nomination as Homeland Security policy undersecretary.

Today, the Senate is expected to vote on the confirmation.

Once he is confirmed, Trump can appoint Wolf as acting Homeland Security secretary. For Wolf to become the leader of the agency, he must hold a Senate-confirmed role under federal law.

Wolf will replace Kevin McAleenan, who resigned in October.

Still, Republicans and Democrats expressed concern about the lack of an acting director for the nation’s third largest department. Homeland Security hasn’t had a permanent secretary since Kirstjen Nielsen resigned in April.

Wolf was Nielsen’s chief of staff.

FBI Director Wray Names 3 New Special Agents in Charge of Divisions in New York, Washington

FBI Director Christopher Wray, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

FBI Director Christopher Wray has named three new special agents in charge of various divisions in New York and Washington.

James Tarasca, who most recently served as a section chief in the International Operations Division, is the new special agent in charge of the Counterterrorism Division of the New York Field Office.

Jennifer L. Moore, who had served as a section chief in the Strategic Realignment Project Management Office, is the new special agent in charge of the Intelligence Division of the Washington Field Office.

James A. Dawson, who most recently served as a section chief in the Critical Incident Response Group, has been named special agent in charge of the Mission Services Division of the Washington Field Office.

Iran Says Disappearance of Robert Levinson Is an Ongoing ‘Missing Person’ Case

Robert Levinson

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The family of Robert Levinson, the former FBI agent who vanished in Iran in 2007, expressed some relief after the Iranian government changed its tone on his disappearance.

The government of Iran acknowledged for the first time that the disappearance is an ongoing “missing person” case.

Levinson “has no judicial or criminal case in any Islamic Republic of Iran court whatsoever,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told reporters, The Associated Press reports.

President Trump said Iran’s acknowledgment was “a very positive step.”

“If Iran is able to turn over to the U.S. kidnapped former FBI Agent Robert A. Levinson, who has been missing in Iran for 12 years, it would be a very positive step,” President Trump tweeted Sunday night.

The State Department last week offered up to a $20 million reward for information leading to the safe return of Levinson, who is believed to have been abducted on March 9, 2007.

Former ICE Director Homan Pledges to Run Against ICE Critic Sen. Gillibrand

Former ICE Director Thomas Woman.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Thomas Homan, who was President Trump’s first acting ICE director, pledged to run against U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat and former presidential candidate who has suggested abolishing ICE.

Homan said he’s tired of listening to Gillibrand’s anti-ICE rhetoric and wants to remove her from her Senate seat.

“Let me just say this: When I do return to New York and Sen. Gilibrand is still around, she won’t be around because I’ll take her on,” Homan said on Larry O’Connor’s “Examining Politics” podcast.

Homan, who served as ICE director from January 2017 to June 2018, acknowledged he’s no longer a New York resident but would return to the state to run against Gillibrand.

Gillibrand became the first sitting senator to join the “Abolish ICE” movement in June 2019.  Since then, president candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders said he also wants to abolish ICE.

Homan defended the agency and its agents, saying, “ICE are the good guys.”

ATF Loses Agents And Resources As Gun Deaths, Mass Shootings Rise

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

As law enforcement struggles with how to handle the proliferation of mass shootings in the U.S., the agency tasked with enforcing gun laws is underfunded and without a permanent leader.

The ATF is expected to lose 300 agents to retirement in 2018 and 2019, and the agency isn’t hiring enough replacements.

The agency has no permanent leader, and its budget continues to be cut.

Kenneth E. Nelson, former acting ATF director, said the agency is being handled like “political football.”

“If they are really concerned, Congress would give ATF the resources to prevent and respond to mass shootings, but ATF is a political football,” Nelson told The Washington Times.

Since 2001, the number of gun deaths have risen 34%, but the number of federal agents – about 2,600 – has not increased.

“The growth of violent gun crime is an external challenge that has strained ATF’s ability to respond to requests for assistance to address the needs of the nation’s cities and citizens most affected by this violence,” ATF wrote, adding that “requests for services and support continue to exceed our ability to respond.”

In 2018, the ATF hired 156 agents but lost 172 to retirement. With about 17% of agents aged 50 or older, the agency is expected to lose a lot more staff.

President Trump has even discussed transferring the ATF’s responsibilities to the Treasury Department.

David Chipman, a former ATF agent, said the gun lobby is to blame.

“We all agree gun violence is a significant public safety threat, so why is the ATF the size that it is?” he said. “That is largely because the gun lobby has been concerned about an effective and aggressive ATF, and their influence over legislators has kept the ATF ineffectual, at least budgetwise.”