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Judge Limits DOJ Warrant Seeking Data from Anti-Trump Site

courtroomBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A federal judge drastically scaled back a Justice Department warrant seeking digital data about visitors to an anti-Trump website that helped organize protests against the president.

Superior Court Chief Judge Robert E. Morin ruled that the Los Angeles web host may redact information that identifies site visitors because of constitutional rights to privacy, the Los Angeles Times reports. 

The Justice Department cannot force the disclosure of identifying information unless there is evidence of criminal activity.

“While the government has the right to execute its warrant, it does not have the right to rummage through the information contained on DreamHost’s website and discover the identity of, or access communications by, individuals not participating in alleged criminal activity, particularly those persons who were engaging in protected 1st Amendment activities,” Morin wrote.

In July, the Justice Department filed a search warrant for information on the 1.3 million visits to the website, disruptj20.org.

Immigration Officer Gets 4 Years in prison for Requesting Sex for Silence on Citizenship

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A U.S. Citizenship and Immigration officer was sentenced to four years in prison for demanding sexual favors from a woman accused of getting married just to gain citizenship.

Officer Jovany Perez told the woman he could help her avoid trouble in exchange for sexual favors, the Miami Herald reports

After giving in during the first meeting, the woman declined a second sexual advance and alerted Homeland Security, which set up a sting to catch the 34-year-old making ultimatums on audio and video surveillance.

Perez was convicted on July 26 of receiving a bribe from a public official.

Suburban Mom Accused of Threatening FBI Mole on Facebook

Data securityBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A suburban Chicago mother of seven faces federal cyberstalking charges for allegedly urging Facebook followers to kill a gang member-turned-FBI mole for helping put behind bars an associate of hers accused of trying to sell semiautomatic rifles stolen from a freight train.

Iesha Stenciel, 38, also faces a gun charge after she was found carrying a bag containing an AR 15-type assault rifles stolen from a Chicago train in September 2016, the Associated Press reports

Brian Stafford was arrested in October 2016 for allegedly telling the informant that he was in possession of the stolen rifles. Following the arrest, Stenciel is accused of posting the Facebook threats.

“Snitches get stitches and found in ditches,” one posting allegedly said, followed by 11 handgun emojis.

Stenciel later claimed the postings were fantasies, not legitimate threats.

Facebook is “a cyber fantasy community where you can live out any fantasy with no real means or intent of carrying anything out,” she wrote to a federal judge in a letter in July.

The AP wrote:

Filings aren’t clear about whether Stafford or Stanciel, both of whom have previous criminal records, played a direct role in the 2016 theft. The guns had been loaded in Atlantic City, New Jersey, two days before the train stopped in Chicago. The thieves also made off with several TVs.

The filings describe Stanciel and Stafford as “associates” but don’t offer details. Stanciel, of Aurora, and Stafford, from the Chicago suburb of Bellwood, have both pleaded not guilty. Stafford faces gun possession charges.

The informant, working with the FBI, agreed to pay Stafford $4,000 for the three rifles, court filings said. The informant wore audio and video devices during the exchange of the money and guns at Stafford’s home on Oct. 23 last year, and Stafford was arrested later that day.

Trump Has Yet to Fill Vacancy for Head of Homeland Security

homeland-security-sportsBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security has been without a head of Homeland Security for more than two months after President Trump made John Kelly his chief of staff.

The delay of replacing Kelly with a new head of Homeland Security could leave the agency without a leader of the agency for longer than any period in history, the Washington Post reports

Asked about a timeline for Kelly’s replacement, Trump said on Sept. 29 that “we’ll be making that decision probably within a month.”

The Post wrote:

With 240,000 employees, a $40 billion budget and a mile-wide organizational chart, the DHS is managing multiple threats, crises and disasters, both natural and man-made. While leading the recovery efforts after three major hurricanes, the department is also busy policing America’s borders, airports and seas; implementing Trump’s controversial immigration policies; and guarding the country’s electoral system and infrastructure from unprecedented hacking attempts, among other tasks.

Acting secretary Elaine Duke has been in the role since July 31, but she does not have a background in emergency management, counterterrorism or law enforcement. Though she has earned mostly praise for her stewardship of the agency during a difficult stretch, she is not considered a candidate for the secretary job, according to several administration officials with knowledge of the search.

DEA Agents Who Took Down Pablo Escobar Share Experience at Ohio State University

Javier Pena/dea photo

Javier Pena/dea photo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The two DEA agents who took down one of the most violent and elusive cocaine kingpins in history, Pablo Escobar, shared their experience Monday night at the Ohio Union at Ohio State University.

The retired DEA agents Javier Pena and Steve Murphy were the impetus for the first two seasons of the Netflix original series, “Narco.”

The agents were sent to Colombia to take down Escobar and his Medellin cartel.

“Our philosophy was that when you go after an organization, you have to go after everybody in it,” Peña told the Lantern. “In other words, you have to dismantle the organization, not just one person.” 

Murphy said the phrase “war on drugs” was not completely accurate because governments provider serious resources in an actual war.

“We were fighting a ‘war on drugs’ against the biggest cocaine dealer, the world’s first narco-terrorist, the world’s most wanted criminal, and what did they send? They sent the two of us,” Murphy said. “It was more of a joke. Since we’ve retired, we’ve re-examined the situation. We still need the enforcement element, but we cannot arrest our way out of this problem. We cannot put enough people in jail to stop narcotics trafficking. There’s just too great a demand.”

The lecture included a history of Escobar, the violence of the Medellin cartel, smuggling tactics and the prison that Escobar built for himself and his compatriots.

“We never met him, but he knew us by name,” Murphy said. “He put a $300,000 bounty on our heads.”

Latinos Less Likely to Report Domestic Violence Because of Fears of Deportation

ICE agents, via ICE.

ICE agents, via ICE.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration appears to have made victims of domestic violence less likely to report the incidents because of fears of deportation.

Reports of domestic violence fell by as much as 18% in California’s Latino community in the first six months of 2017, according to data compiled by the Los Angeles Times

The reports fell 18% in San Francisco, 13.3% in San Diego and 3.5% in Los Angeles.

By comparison, the drops in domestic violence reporting among non-Latinos dropped less than 1%, “prompting fears among professionals working in the domestic violence field that the declines are linked to a fear of deportation,” the LA Times reported.

One U.S. official said the fears are grounded more in perception than reality.

“ICE still has a policy that we don’t pursue removal proceedings against victims or witnesses of crime, and I haven’t seen any documented instances where that actually happened,” Claude Arnold, who oversaw ICE in Los Angeles between 2010 and 2015, told the Times. “To a great degree, we facilitate those people having legal status in the U.S.”

Other Stories of Interest

FBI Stumped on What Motivated Mass Shooting in Las Vegas

Stephen Paddock

Stephen Paddock

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Unable to determine why Stephen Paddock opened fire at a music festival in Las Vegas, the FBI is erecting billboards across Nevada encouraging people to help uncover his motive.

“We still do not have a clear motive or reason why,” a frustrated Clark County Undersheriff Kevin McMahill said Friday, the Independent reports. “We have looked at literally everything.”

Investigators have examined 1,000 leads and the politics, finances and social behavior of Paddock but have yet to determine what prompted Paddock to pull off the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

“We have been down each and every one of these paths,” McMahill said. “We all want answers.”

The billboards will encourage anyone with information to call 800-CALL-FBI.

“If you know something, say something,” said Aaron Rouse, agent in charge of the Las Vegas FBI office. “We will not stop until we have the truth.”

FBI Terrorism Unit Warns of Potential Violence from Black Activists

Protest in Detroit. Photo by Steve Neavling.

Protest in Detroit. Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A leaked FBI report shows the federal government is worried that “black identity extremists” are a violent threat.

The August 2017 assessment by the FBI’s counter-terrorism division claims that “perceptions of police brutality against African Americans spurred an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement and will very likely serve as justification for such violence.” 

The assessment has raised concerns among civil rights activists that black activists will be targets of surveillance.

“When we talk about enemies of the state and terrorists, with that comes an automatic stripping of those people’s rights to speak and protest,” Mohammad Tajsar, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, told the Guardian. “It marginalizes what are legitimate voices within the political debate that are calling for racial and economic justice.” 

In a statement to Foreign Policy, the FBI said it cannot initiate an investigation based solely on an individual’s race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, or the exercise of First Amendment rights.”