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Ralph Himmelsbach, FBI’s Lead Investigator in D.B. Cooper Case, Has Died

FBI sketch of D.B. Cooper

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Ralph Himmelsbach, the lead FBI agent in the mysterious 1971 skyjacker case of D.B. Cooper, has died.

The retired agent died Tuesday in Woodburn, Oregon, at the age of 94, The Oregonian reports.

Himmelsbach was best known for the decade he spent investigating the hijacking of Northwest Orient Flight 305. Cooper boarded the plane in Portland, Ore. He claimed to have a bomb and had the plane fly to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, where he got the ransom money. He subsequently parachuted from the plane and was never found.

After his retirement, Himmelsbach wrote the book “Norjak: The Investigation of D.B. Cooper” and “The Secrets of the FBI.”

“Special Agent Himmelsbach retired from the FBI almost 40 years ago, but he never left the FBI family,” Renn Cannon, special agent in charge of the FBI in Oregon, said. “Through the later years of his long career and into retirement, he was seen as an expert on the mysteries of the D.B. Cooper disappearance. He will be missed by all who had the chance to come to know him.”

Born on Sept. 28, 1985, in Oakland, Calif., Himmelsbach graduated from the University of Oregon and later served as a pilot in the Army Air Corps during World War II.

Himmelsbach joined the FBI in 1951 and became a reputable, dogged investigator.

Later in his life, Himmelsbach said D.B. Cooper likely did during his jump from the plane.

FBI Agents Say Hijacker D.B. Cooper Probably Died During His Jump

Homeland Security Official Who Scaled Back Counterterrorism Efforts Is Resigning

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A Department of Homeland Security official and presidential appointee will leave his post after scaling back on some counterterrorism efforts involving weapons of mass destruction.

James F. McDonnell, who led the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office, will step down at noon Thursday, The Los Angeles Times reports.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan requested McDonnell’s departure.

In his seven-sentence resignation memo, McDonnell did not give a reason for resigning.

McDonnell has faced criticism earlier this year for promoting a scientifically-disputed system for detection of airborne infectious agents such as anthrax.

McDonnell also directed “the scaling back or elimination of multiple anti-terrorism programs at Homeland Security, which has primary domestic responsibility for helping authorities detect and block WMD-related threats,” The Los Angeles Times wrote.

FBI Runs Facebook Ads to Recruit Russian Spies

FBI’s Facebook ad targeting Russian spies.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI is reportedly turning to Facebook in an apparent effort to recruit Russian spies or people who know them.

The bureau recently began running three Facebook ads in with Russian texts over images and illustrations in the Washington D.C. area, CNN first reported.

One of the ads reads, “For your future, for the future of your family,” over a photo of a young woman with her family at her graduation.

The link directs people to the FBI Washington D.C. Field Office’s website for its counter intelligence program and encouragers users to meet “in person.”

The FBI declined to provide specifics about the ads, but one special agent said Russian spies “are very active and pose a security risk.”

“We cannot comment except to note that Russia has a large number of intelligence officers based in Russian diplomatic facilities around the world. They are very active and pose a security risk to the US and our allies,” Alan E. Kohler Jr., special agent in charge of the Washington field office’s counterintelligence division told CNN on Tuesday.

“The FBI uses a variety of means to gather information, including the use of sources,” he said. “The FBI will use all legal means available to locate individuals with information that can help protect the United States from threats to our national security.”

“Russia has long been a counterintelligence threat to the US” and the FBI will “continue to adapt our investigative and outreach techniques to counter the threat,” he added.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary McAleenan Expresses Frustration with Trump Administration

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan has spoken out about his department’s increasingly controversial policies that is turning the department into a partisan tool for the president.

In a candid interview with The Washington Post, McAleenan said the family separations at the border were “well intended” but “went too far.”

“When you see the impact in the six-week period on 2,500-or-so families and understand the emotional pain for those children, it’s not worth it,” McAleenan, who is six months into his role, told The Washington Post. “It’s the one part of this whole thing that I couldn’t ever be part of again.”

McAleenan said he’s losing control of the rhetoric coming from a department that is supposed to be a neutral law enforcement agency.

“What I don’t have control over is the tone, the message, the public face and approach of the department in an increasingly polarized time,” he said. “That’s uncomfortable, as the accountable, senior figure.”

Trump has yet to nominate McAleenan to the full-time DHS secretary position.

White House officials would not discuss why he hasn’t been nominated, nor would they respond to his frustrations.

“Secretary McAleenan is doing a fantastic job implementing the president’s plan to secure the southern border, build the wall, halt illegal immigration and stop the dangerous practice of catch-and-release,” deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidley said. “Thanks to the changes President Trump’s administration has put in place, now, if you try to violate our borders, you will be turned around and sent back to where you came from.”

Former FBI Director Returns to WilmerHale After Serving as Special Counsel in Russia Probe

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Robert Mueller, the former special counsel who investigated Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign, is rejoining the law firm WilmerHale.

Mueller was a partner at the firm since 2014, but stepped down in May 2017 while he began investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 special election.

Mueller will return to focusing on high-profile investigations and crisis management.

“We couldn’t be happier to have Bob, our extraordinary friend and colleague, return to WilmerHale,” Robert Novick, the firm’s co-managing partner, said in a news release. “Few lawyers have been entrusted with as many matters of national significance as Bob, in both his public service and in private practice. Bob embodies the highest values of our firm and profession. We’re privileged to work alongside him once again.”

Mueller said he’s happy to be back.

“I’m glad to be at WilmerHale once again, a firm with a tradition of honoring public service,” Mueller said. “It was an honor to serve as special counsel. Now, I look forward to resuming my private practice alongside the talented lawyers at the firm.”

Mueller served as FBI director for 12 years under two presidents. He began leading the fBI just one week before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Conservative Republicans Hold Up Trump’s Pick to Lead ATF

Chuck Canterbury

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s pick to lead the ATF has hit a roadblock.

The Senate Judiciary Committee last week voted to delay the nomination of Chuck Canterbury over concerns from conservative Republicans and gun rights groups,

Their concern is that Canterbury’s position on the Second Amendment is not solid enough, CNN reports.

During last weeks hearing, Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana accused Canterbury of being “evasive” about his personal views on the Second Amendment.

“I don’t personally support any more restrictions than are currently in the law,” Canterbury eventually responded.

Trump, Barr Spoke to Foreign Officials over Origins of Special Counsel Probe

President Trump and AG William Barr, via DOJ.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

President Trump and Attorney General William Barr reached out to foreign officials as part of an investigation into the origins of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, several news outlets reported.

Trump spoke to Australian officials, while Barr had contacted British and Italian authorities, The Washington Post first reported.

The Justice Department confirmed to Reuters that Trump had reached out to foreign countries to introduce Barr and another Justice Department official assisting in the inquiry.

Trump has called on the investigation to back up his insistence that the origin of the special counsel probe was motivated by political rivals with no substantive evidence of wrongdoing.

The new information is certain to be used by House Democrats in their impeachment inquiry. It also raises questions about whether Trump is using his contacts for personal gain.