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TSA Failures Undermine Passenger Safety on Airplanes

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

From missing weapons carried onto commercial aircraft by travelers to poor vetting and training of airport screeners, the TSA is failing in its mission “in many ways” to keep flyers safe, argues The Hill opinion contributor Martin Schwartz.

For one, the Homeland Security Inspector General found that TSA missed 95% of weapons carried onto airplanes by undercover investigators.

Since the agency is failing to prevent many travelers from carrying forbidden items onto airplanes, the TSA announced it plans to increase highly intrusive personal frisks of passengers.

The TSA also has failed to fully deploy the nearly foolproof full-body scanners.

The agency’s high-level supervisors also have been fired for poor performance, which trickles down to the rank and file.

This comes at a time when a record number of travelers are caught with weapons, especially firearms.

“For an agency that must deal with the public every day at transit facilities, and that has existed for well over a decade, this is an inexcusable record of failure,” Schwartz wrote. “It strongly suggests that the TSA should be abolished, with its duties turned over to well-trained airline, ship or railroad personnel working under the direct supervision of specialized law enforcement professionals, namely officers from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).”

Trump Accuses ‘Deep State’ DOJ of Ignoring Clinton Aide Huma Abedin

President Trump

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s attacks on his intelligence agencies continued Tuesday morning when he suggested the Justice Department is part of the “deep state” that “must finally act” to jail Huma Abedin, a top Hillary Clinton aide.

“Crooked Hillary Clinton’s top aid, Huma Abedin, has been accused of disregarding basic security protocols. She put Classified Passwords into the hands of foreign agents. Remember sailors pictures on submarine? Jail! Deep State Justice Dept must finally act? Also on Comey & others,” Trump tweeted.

Huma Abedin, via Wikipedia

Trump’s “deep state” comment suggests the Justice Department is composed of powerful interests working to undermine him.

Trump appears to be referring to reports that Abedin forwarded e-mails from her Yahoo account that included passwords to government systems. Millions of Yahoo accounts were hacked.

Australian Officials Annoyed That Trump Campaign Whistleblower Was Identified

Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, via LinkedIn.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Australian officials expressed “annoyance and frustration” that one of their top diplomats was identified as the source of information that triggered the Trump-Russia investigation, according to the Sydney Morning Herald

In a bombshell report on Saturday, the New York Times revealed that the wide-ranging federal investigation was prompted by revelations shared by a Trump campaign aide at an upscale London bar in May 2016. According to Australian diplomat Alexander Downer, he was told by a tipsy, boastful Trump aide, George Papadopolous, that Russia had political “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.”

Downer revealed the conversation about two months later, when droves of Clinton emails began surfacing online.

The tip was enough to prompt the FBI to launch an investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia to undermine Hillary Clinton.

Papadopolous has since pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Happy New Year from ticklethewire.com

Young, Tipsy Trump Adviser Was Improbable Trigger for Russia Investigation

Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, via LinkedIn.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A young, tipsy and boastful adviser to the Trump campaign was the improbable spark that ignited the widening federal probe of allegations that the president and his campaign team may have conspired with Russia to steal the November 2016 election from Hillary Clinton. 

It began in an upscale London bar in May 2016, when George Papadopoulos, a 28-year-old political newcomer and foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, bragged to a top Australian diplomat that Russia had political “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails,” according to a new bombshell New York Times story.

The report reveals that Russia’s campaign to undermine the presidential election was far more aggressive than previously known – and that some high-ranking members of Trump’s campaign were complicit in a foreign adversary’s brazen attack on American democracy.

The bold, reckless disclosure by Papadopoulos came two months before the public found out about about embarrassing, politically damaging emails that had been illegally hacked from the Democratic National Committee.

So when Wikileaks dumped nearly 20,000 emails online in July, Australian officials tipped off their American counterparts about the meeting with Papadopoulos, an energy consultant whose only political experience was a two-month stint working on the presidential campaign of Ben Carson.

The prospect that Russia was hacking the campaign of a presidential candidate and the discovery that a member of Trump’s campaign appeared to have inside information and secret channels with the Kremlin prompted the FBI to launch a closely guarded investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. 

Despite repeated claims by Trump and his conservative allies, the federal investigation was not set off by the salacious, disputed dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele. Instead, the probe was triggered by valuable information shared by one of American’s closest intelligence agencies. 

Now Papadopoulos is cooperating with the special counsel team after pleading guilty in October to lying to the FBI about the secret meeting with Mifsud.

Trump and his allies have sought to diminish Papadopoulos’ role in the campaign, suggesting he was a low-level campaign volunteer or a “coffee boy.”

Interviews and documents obtained by the New York Times reveal that Papadopoulos, in fact, was an influential member of the campaign who  “played a critical role in this drama” and helped “reveal a Russian operation that was more aggressive and widespread than previously known.”

The first indication that the Trump administration was aware of Clinton’s emails came in April 2016, when Papadopoulos met at a London bar with Joseph Mifsurd, a Maltese professor with powerful Moscow contacts who include the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During the meeting, Mifsud informed Papadopoulos that the Kremlin had “dirt” on Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails. 

What’s unclear is how many people in the Trump campaign knew about the “dirt.”

About two months after the Mifsud meeting, Trump urged Russia to hack Clinton’s emails during a news conference in Florida. Just weeks later, just after Trump won the Republican nomination in July 2016, top FBI officials warned both presidential candidates that Russia likely would try to infiltrate their campaigns. Top FBI officials requested that both candidates  notify the bureau of any suspected hacking, but Trump’s campaign never came forward with information.

In May 2016, then-CIA Director John Brennan alerted Congress that intelligence officials were increasingly worried about connections between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. In the meantime, the FBI was quietly debating how to approach the allegations without tipping off Trump officials or creating the appearance that President Obama’s administration was meddling in the election.

That Papadopoulos, a 20-something political newcomer with virtually no knowledge of Russian issues, could become the impetus of an investigation involving the sitting president and a former Cold War adversary is nothing short of astonishing. Then again, nothing about Trump’s campaign has been conventional or without drama.

In early 2016, Trump’s roller-roaster campaign, desperate to build a foreign policy team, sought out Papadopoulos, who was ambitious and quickly took a leading role in trying to improve relations with Russia and arrange a meeting between Trump and President Vladimir Putin. At one point, Trump turned to the head of his campaign’s foreign policy team, then-Sen. Jeff Sessions, for advice on a Putin meeting.

Sessions, who is now Trump’s attorney general, failed to disclose the discussion during a Congressional committee hearing earlier this year, saying he had forgotten about it. But Sessions eventually said he advised against a Trump-Putin meeting, at least partly because he believed Papadopoulos was in over his head and could hurt the campaign.

Whatever the case, Papadopoulos continued to create ties with Russia, setting up meetings with Moscow officials and keeping top campaign officials in the loop.

After the Times story was posted, Trump tweeted:

Weekend Series on Crime: Wildlife Smuggling is the Next Drug Trade

Trump Contradicts GOP Lawmakers Who Claim Mueller Is Biased, Unfair

President Trump, via White House.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump contradicted some Republican lawmakers and other conservatives who have tried to discredit the special counsel investigation over the past month, saying he believes Robert Mueller will treat him “fairly.”

Still, Trump told the New York Times that the investigation has galvanized his base and prompted some “great congressmen” to begin “pointing out what a witch hunt the whole thing is.” 

The president said he doesn’t plan to fire Mueller, whom Trump expects will conclude he did nothing wrong.

“There is no collusion,” Trump said. “And even these committees that have been set up. If you look at what’s going on — and in fact, what it’s done is, it’s really angered the base and made the base stronger. My base is stronger than it’s ever been. Great congressmen, in particular, some of the congressmen have been unbelievable in pointing out what a witch hunt the whole thing is. So, I think it’s been proven that there is no collusion.”

Check Out ICE’s Top Photos of 2017

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Immigration and Customs Enforcement posted its “Top Images of 2017,” offering an inside look into an agency responsible for combating human trafficking, illegal immigration and other crimes.

ICE also posted the agency’s favorite story of the year.

Here are some of the photos:

Special Agent Alexandra DeArmas of the HSI Newark Rapid Response Team delivers water in Barrio Campanella, Toa Baja, Puerto Rico.

A member of the ICE Honor Guard places a rose above the name of a fallen ICE officer. The members of the Honor Guard walk around the entire National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., and lay roses at every fallen ICE officer’s name.

An ERO deportation officer checks fingerprints using a mobile biometric software application in Long Island, N.Y., during Operation Raging Bull, a federal law enforcement operation targeting MS-13.

Ingmar Guandique, a known MS-13 gang member, is removed to his native El Salvador by ERO deportation officers.

HSI Special Readiness Team sharp shooters keep a keen eye out to assist federal, state and local law enforcement officials in maintaining public safety during Super Bowl 51 in Houston, Texas.