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Tiff Brewing: American Airlines Won’t Let Off Duty Fed Agents Carry Guns if They Fly at Discount Rate or Free

american airlines logoBy Jon Perkins
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — A tiff has been brewing between American Airlines and federal agents over the right to carry guns aboard planes.

Bottom line: the airline won’t let off-duty agents carry a gun aboard a plane if they fly at reduced rates or free on “buddy passes” in what’s known in the industry as a “non-revenue” passenger.

Interestingly, American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith told ticklethewire.com that if off duty federal agents pay full fare they can carry a gun.

That policy hasn’t sat well with Jon Adler, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (F.L.E.O.A), who fired off a Dec. 10 letter to the airlines.

“We have received reports that American Airlines has repeatedly denied boarding to federal law enforcement officers flying in a non-revenue capacity,” Adler wrote. “From an airline victimized by two terrorist attacks, resulting in the death of thousands of Americans, we find this policy disturbing for a number of reasons.”

“Their revenue status should have no bearing,” he added later on in the letter. “For American Airlines to essentially say ‘it’s okay if you pay, but not if you don’t’ is absolutely ridiculous. I can assure you that a federal law enforcement officer would not base their reactions to a hijacking on whether they paid full fare or not, nor should American Airlines.”

“It’s not as if when you’re on duty you’re Superman and when you’re off-duty you’re a clumsy Clark Kent,” Adler said in an interview with ticklethewire.com this week , adding that the agents were “valuable assets” when it came to airplane security.

Earlier this week, the airline conceded that it was reviewing what it now considered a flawed policy.

Read more »

Fed Air Marshals Say System a Complete Failure; Say 9/11 Could Happen Again

Ambitious $6.7 Billion Virtual Fence Project at Mexican Border in Jeopardy

mexico-border-signBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Could the government’s ambitious $6.7 billion plan to secure the Mexico border with a “virtual fence” be in trouble?

The Associated Press reports Yes.

The wire service says the project is fraught with technical glitches that raise questions as to whether it’s worth completing.

“Having spent $672 million so far with little to show for it, Washington has ordered a reassessment of the whole idea,” the AP reported. “The outlook became gloomier this week when President Obama proposed cutting $189 million from the venture.

The AP reports that the project could be scaled back so that only segments of the nation’s 2,000 mile southern border have the virtual fences.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

FBI’s James McJunkin Named Assist. Dir. of Counterterrorism Division

James McJunkin/fbi photo

James McJunkin/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — FBI Agent James W. McJunkin is taking over the ever important spot at headquarters as assistant director of the Counterterrorism Division at headquarters.

He moves up from his post as one of the division’s deputy assistant directors.

“Jim has extensive experience and a record of success in managing counterterrorism investigations and creating successful partnerships, tools that will help the FBI, along with our partners, defeat the groups and individuals who wish to harm us,” FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said in a statement.

McJunkin started out with the FBI in 1987 and worked in the San Antonio, Atlanta, and Washington D.C. field offices, the FBI said.

In 2005, he became an assistant special agent in charge of the Washington Field Office and led the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).

In August 2006, Mr. McJunkin became the acting special agent in charge of the Washington Field Office Counterterrorism Division and after a couple more moves, he was named deputy assistant director for Counterterrorism Operations — Branch I in January 2008.

FBI Says No Known Terrorist Threats Target Super Bowl

superbowlBy Allan Lengel
For Aol News

With just days to go before the big game, the FBI says there’s no intelligence here or abroad suggesting terrorists are plotting to disrupt Super Bowl XLIV in Miami, one of America’s premier sporting events seen around the world.

“The security is in place, and we’re well-prepared for any incident,” John V. Gillies, special agent in charge of the Miami FBI, told AOL News. “I want to stress there’s no indication of any threats to the Super Bowl at this time.”

Still, law enforcement isn’t taking any chances.

John V. Gillies/fbi photo

John V. Gillies/fbi photo

Legions of federal, state and local law enforcement personnel connected to everything from the Miami-Dade police to the Coast Guard have been preparing to protect the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area on water, land and in the air for the pre-Super Bowl parties and the Sunday night game. The latter is expected to draw a frenzied crowd of 75,000-plus to Sun Trust Stadium.

There will be a no-fly zone around the stadium, and during certain pre-game parties the Coast Guard will beef up patrols around hotels and other venues in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area, said Lt. Cmdr. Matt Moorlag, a spokesman for the Coast Guard in Miami.

For Full Story

Pakistani Scientist Accused of Trying to Shoot American Soldiers and FBI Agents Found Guilty in NY

new-york-mapBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A Pakistani neuroscientist, who disrupted her New York trial with multiple outbursts, was convicted Wednesday of attempted murder for trying to kill American soldiers and F.B.I. agents in Afghanistan, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.

Authorities charged that Aafia Siddiqui, 37, of grabbing grabbed an M4 rifle in an Afghanistan police station in 2008 and fired on American officers and federal agents. No one was hit.

The jury deliberated for over 2 days following a 14 day trial, authorities said.

The New York Times reported that as jurors began leaving the courtroom, Siddiqui turned to them in her chair and said:

“This is a verdict coming from Israel and not from America. That’s where the anger belongs. I can testify to this, and I have proof.”

FBI Disputes Wall Street Journal Column Saying Anthrax Case is Unsolved

Suspect Bruce Ivins

Suspect Bruce Ivins

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The FBI has fired off a letter to the Wall Street Journal disputing a guest column which questioned the FBI’s conclusion that scientist Bruce Ivins was responsible for the deadly anthrax attacks in 2001.

The column concluded that  Ivins was in all likelihood not the real culprit.

“Monday’s opinion piece, “The Anthrax Attacks Remain Unsolved,” was filled with inaccuracies and omitted several relevant facts that are necessary for a balanced discussion of the science applied in the anthrax investigation,” said the FBI letter signed by D. Christian Hassell, Ph.D, Director of the FBI Laboratory.

It went on to say the FBI was confident with its findings.

Author of the controversial column, Edward Jay Epstein, who is working on a book on the 9/11 Commission, wrote recently in the Wall Street Journal that “silicon”, an element in the deadly anthrax, which is used to weaponize the material,  was not available to Ivins, a scientist at the the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in Fort Detrick, Md.

Therefore, it wasn’t likely that he was the guy.

Ivins killed himself in the summer of 2008  shortly before the FBI said it was about to be charge him in the case.  The FBI concluded that Ivins was the guy and case essentially closed.

“If Ivins had neither the equipment or skills to weaponize anthrax with silicon, then some other party with access to the anthrax must have done it. Even before these startling results, Sen. Leahy had told Director Mueller, ‘I do not believe in any way, shape, or manner that [Ivins] is the only person involved in this attack on Congress,'” Epstein wrote in his column.

The FBI letter,  which was  circulated by the agency on Wednesday, stated:

“From the outset, the FBI’s scientific work in the anthrax case has had a foundation in validation and verification of its approach and conclusions. This process began within weeks of the initial events of 2001 and has included:

Read more »

Atty. Gen. Holder Sends Letter Defending Handling of Underwear Bomber: Says It’s in Line With Previous Administration

Dept. of Justice art

Dept. of Justice art

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The debate over whether to charge the underwear bomber in a civilian, rather than a military court, continues.

Attorney Gen. Eric Holder Jr. fired off a letter dated Feb. 3 to Sen. Mitch McConnell and other centers  assuring him that “I made the decision to charge Mr. Abdulmutallab with federal crimes, and to seek his detention….”  The letter was posted on Justice Department website.

“On the evening of December 25 and again on the morning of December 26, the FBI informed its partners in the Intelligence Community that Abdulmutallab would be charged criminally, and no agency objected to this course of action,”  Holder wrote.

“Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, the practice of the U.S. government followed by prior and current Administrations without a single exception has been to arrest and detain under federal criminal law all terrorist suspects who are apprehended inside the United States.”

“The prior administration adopted policies expressly endorsing this approach.”

To Read the Full Letter