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FBI Agents Association Urges Trump Administration to Step Up Efforts to Gain Release of Former Agent Robert Levinson on 10th Anniversary of Disappearance

Robert Levinson

Robert Levinson

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI Agents Association, which represents more than 13,000 active and former FBI agents, marked the 10th anniversary of former FBI Agent Robert Levinson’s disappearance on Thursday by calling for the Trump Administration and the international community to increase efforts to gain his release.

“It’s time to bring Bob home to his family,” said FBIAA President Tom O’Connor  said in a statement. “FBIAA urges the Trump Administration and the international community to press Iran for information on his disappearance.  We are encouraged by the recent statement by a White House National Security spokesperson that Bob’s case is a priority and that the U.S. will never cease in its efforts to bring Bob home.  We ask anyone with knowledge of his whereabouts to come forward to help reunite Bob with his loved ones.”

Levinson is a retired FBI Agent who served 22 years with the FBI and six with the DEA. He traveled to Kish Island, Iran as a private investigator and has not been publicly seen or heard from since his disappearance on March 9, 2007.

“Our message to Bob and his family is that his former colleagues have not forgotten him,” said O’Connor.  We continue to stand with the Levinson family.  Bob has missed a decade of accomplishments and milestones in the lives of his children and his wife, Christine.  We pledge to the Levinson family that we will not let the world forget Bob’s unjustified imprisonment and we will continue to work for his release.”

Border Patrol Apprehensions Plummet Since Trump Took Office

File photo of a Border Patrol agent.

File photo of a Border Patrol agent.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Border Patrol apprehensions plummeted 40% since Donald Trump was sworn into office, a sign that his tough talk on immigration may be working.

“This trend is encouraging because it means many fewer people are putting themselves and their families at risk of exploitation, assault and injury by human traffickers and the physical dangers of the treacherous journey north,” Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said in a statement, McClatchy reports

In February, Border Patrol apprehended 18,762 people, a steep decline over the 31,578 detained in January.

McClatchy wrote:

One month of statistics does not necessarily reflect a new trend, but the drop is significant considering border agents apprehended more family members entering the United States along the Southwest border in fiscal year 2016 than they did in 2014, when tens of thousands of migrants from Central America flooded the U.S. border fleeing poverty and violence.

Raising even more questions about the Obama administration’s part enforcement, part humanitarian assistance strategy, both family apprehensions and detentions of unaccompanied children increased dramatically last year, with family apprehensions nearly doubling and the number children traveling without parents increasing 52 percent.

Trump’s blunt approach, at least, initially appears to be having a dramatic impact.

Supporters certainly will credit the decrease to tougher policies and a clearer statement from the administration that it’s serious about being tough on illegal immigration. Advocates won’t disagree, but are likely to note that the drop might also be attributable to new strategies on the part of migrants and smugglers responding to the administration’s tactics.

Senators Request Information on Trump’s Claims of Wiretapping Ordered by Obama

Trump Tower

Trump Tower

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Senators from both sides of the aisle want the Justice Department and FBI to release any information about Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that President Obama had wiretapped phones at Trump Tower during the presidential election.

Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., sent a formal request for information on any action taken to tap Trump’s phones at his New York home and offices, ABC News reports. 

“Congress must get to the bottom of President Trump’s recent allegation that President Obama wiretapped President Trump’s phones during the 2016 election,” wrote Graham and Whitehouse in a letter to FBI director James Comey and Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente.

“As Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, we would take any abuse of wiretapping authorities for political purposes very seriously,” the letter adds.

“We would be equally alarmed to learn that a court found enough evidence of criminal activity or contact with a foreign power to legally authorize a wiretap of President Trump, the Trump Campaign, or Trump Tower.”

On Saturday, Trump claimed on Twitter that President Obama had directed federal authorities to tap Trump’s phones.

Ex-NYPD Cop Fatally Shoots Self As FBI Agents Prepared to Arrest Him

nypd badgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former NYPD cop fatally shot himself in the head as FBI agents pulled him over to arrest him as part of a quadruple homicide and cocaine conspiracy, the New York Post reports. 

Gerard Benderoth, 48, committed suicide on a quiet suburban road in Rockland County around 8:20 a.m. Wednesday.

Benderoth, nicknamed “White Rhino” from his days as a strongman competitor, was about to be arrested on a seal indictment in connection with a murder and drug conspiracy case.

“If this guy put a bullet in his head rather than go and talk to them, he must have been in deep,” a law enforcement source noted to The Post.

A 20-Year Veteran of FBI Takes Over Bureau’s Kansas City Office

fbigunbadgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Darrin Jones, a 20-year FBI veteran, has been appointed to lead the bureau’s Kansas City office.

Jones will replace Eric Jackson, who will head the FBI office in Dallas, the Kanas City Star reports. 

A native of Nebraska, Jones joined the FBI in 1997.

Most recently, Jones was an executive within the Technical Collection Branch of the FBI’s Operation Technology Division in Quantico, Va.

Before that, he served in the Salt Lake City office, helping leader counterterrorism efforts ahead of the 2002 Olympics.

Jones also served in leadership positions the FBI’s Office of Congressional Affairs, Operational Technology Division and the field offices in Anchorage, Alaska, and Albuquerque, N.M.

Trump Proposes Cuts to TSA, Secret Service, FEMA to Pay for Border Wall

Donald Trump, via Wikipedia

Donald Trump, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump wants to free up money for his border wall by mulling cuts to the Coast Guard, TSA, Secret Service and FEMA.

The budget reductions would cut deeply into notable national security and emergency response initiatives, ABC News reports. 

Under the proposal, the administration would cut $1.3 billion from the Coast Guard’s budget, which is a 14% reduction over last year.

TSA stands to lose more than $500 million, and FEMA would be cut by $370 million.

But whether Trump can get Congress to approve the reductions is an entirely different story. Republicans and Democrats questioned the wisdom of the budget cuts.

“The White House needs to go back to drawing board with its budget and produce something to Congress that is workable, realistic, and, most importantly, keeps our country safe,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi, the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee.

Other Stories of Interest

FBI Director Meets with Local Law Enforcement at Ribbon-Cutting for New Boston Office

FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director James Comey met with about 40 local law enforcement leaders over lunch Tuesday before participating in a ribbon-cutting to announce the opening of a new headquarters for the FBI’s Boston field office in Chelsea.

The office, which covers Massachusetts, Main, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, sits on 5.1 acres and will be 220,000 square feet, eight stories and cost $100,000 to build.

Although Comey didn’t field questions from reporters, Harold Shaw, special agent in charge of the FBI office in Boston, said the director talked about drug trafficking, terrorism and gang violence. Comey sought to build a working relationship with other law enforcement agencies, the Boston Globe reports. 

“They were very insightful, the discussions about what’s concerning them most,” said Shaw.

Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes, who is head of the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs of Police Association, said he’s encouraged by the enhanced level of partnership between the FBI and local police.

“The FBI has been incredibly supportive of local police in terms of these issues as they pertain to gang violence, drugs, bank robberies, white collar crime and certainly terrorism,” Kyes said.

FBI Prepares to Help Determine Who Released CIA Records to WikiLeaks

CIA headquarters

CIA headquarters

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is poised to take a major role in determining the identity of the person who gave a trove of CIA documents to WikiLeaks.

The latest leak raises questions about the intelligence community’s ability to keep digital records from getting released to the public.

Army private Chelsea Manning and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden were among the latest to leak secret documents.

“Anybody who thinks that the Manning and Snowden problems were one-offs is just dead wrong,’’ Joel Brenner, former head of U.S. counterintelligence at the office of the Director of National Intelligence, told the Washington Post. “Ben Franklin said three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead. If secrets are shared on systems in which thousands of people have access to them, that may really not be a secret anymore. This problem is not going away, and it’s a condition of our existence.’’

The FBI and CIA have declined to comment.

If the documents’ are verified, authorities must then determine who had access to the documents.

WikiLeaks suggested the source was a former government employee or contractor.

“This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA,’’ WikiLeaks said in announcing the first release of documents. “The archive appears to have been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.’’