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Weekend Series on Crime: The Canadian Mafia

LA Times: Border Patrol Must Continue Accountability, Use of Force Improvements

File photo of a Border Patrol agent.

File photo of a Border Patrol agent.

By Editorial Board
Los Angeles Times

Over the past three years, the Obama administration has struggled to change a culture of violence and impunity within the U.S. Border Patrol — a culture that has tolerated excessive force against suspected border crossers, including unnecessary lethal shootings. To its credit, the government has forced some improvements in both transparency and accountability, as well as reductions in the use of force, under Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske, though the agency continues to face dogged problems with bribery and other underhanded actions by some of the agents.

Whether the Border Patrol will continue to improve under the Trump administration is an open question. Kerlikowske is retiring and President-elect Donald Trump has not yet nominated a successor. Mark Morgan took over as chief of the Border Patrol, answering to Kerlikowske, in October, the first outsider to be put in charge of the agency. A former assistant director of the FBI and military veteran, Morgan was brought in to the Border Patrol two years ago to revamp its troubled internal affairs department. His appointment as chief signals the seriousness with which the Obama administration is trying to force changes by challenging the institutional culture.

But Morgan will now be working for Trump, whose harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric during the campaign is well known and who has vowed to take dramatic steps (such as building an enormous wall along the Mexican border) to keep immigrants from entering the country without authorization. Despite getting little support from organized labor generally, Trump received a rare early endorsement in the primaries from the union representing border patrol agents, which has been critical of the Obama administration’s reform efforts and has accused it of seeking to “demoralize Border Patrol agents” and to “dismantle immigration enforcement.” In accepting the union’s endorsement, Trump didn’t emphasize the reforms that need to be made, but merely vowed to provide the agency with “the resources, tools and support they need to protect the United States and stop the influx of drugs, gangs and cartel violence.” Given that, there is reason to fear backsliding.

To read more click here. 

PA-Based Fireworks Company Suspended After ATF Investigation

fireworks1By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The ATF has taken action against a Pennsylvania-based firework company after police found stolen fireworks in an employee’s home during an unrelated investigation.

Zambelli Fireworks was suspended for two weeks and fined $200,000, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. 

“This is a very serious issue that relates to poor record-keeping, not to the strength of Zambelli Fireworks,” Zambelli managing partner Ed Meyer said in a statement. “We are a world leader with strong bookings in 2017.” 

Zambelli said the suspension won’t affect operations because no events ere planned.

The company was founded in 1893 and produces 1,600 fireworks shows nationwide every years.

Republican Congressman Introduces Bill to Eliminate the ATF

ATF LogoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

If Wisconsin Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner gets his way, the ATF will be dissolved and its responsibilities dished out to other federal agencies.

Sensenbrenner introduce the ATF Elimination Act, which would hand over alcohol and tobacco cases to the DEA, while the FBI would handle firearms, explosives and arsons, the Daily Caller reports. 

“Common sense budgeting solutions are necessary, and the ATF Elimination Act is one measure we can take to reduce spending, redundancy, and practice responsible governance,” said Sensenbrenner. “The ATF is a scandal-ridden, largely duplicative agency that has been branded by failure and lacks a clear mission. It is plagued by backlogs, funding gaps, hiring challenges, and a lack of leadership.”

Sensenbrenner maintains that eliminating the ATF would help “bring draining the swamp” and be in the “best interest” of taxpayers.

The Daily Caller wrote:

The bill would require the DEA and FBI to provide congress a plan for incorporating the ATF’s responsibilities, field offices, buildings and assets.

In addition to cutting the ATF, the bill would place a hiring freeze on the ATF and would require the Department of Justice, the ATF’s parent agency, to “eliminate and reduce duplicative functions and waste.”

Trump’s Pick for CIA Pledges to Continue Investigating Russia

Rep. Mike Pompeo

Rep. Mike Pompeo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for CIA director, Rep. Mike Pompeo, said Thursday he won’t balk at investigating Russia over  hacking and other issues.

His remarks are in direct contrast to Trump, who downplayed the seriousness of the hacks and said he wants to improve his relationship with Russia.

“So far, nothing in the C.I.A.’s 69-year history has prepared it to deal with a president who is as openly derisive of its work as Mr. Trump,” The New York Times reports. 

Trump has publicly criticized America’s spies, which is “very dangerous,” said former CIA director Leon E. Panetta.

“It sends a message to our adversaries, to our enemies, that somehow they might be able to take advantage of us because we are so in conflict in terms of the president and the intelligence community,” Panetta said.

Pompeo said the CIA will continue to aggressively investigate Russia.

“I will continue to pursue foreign intelligence with vigor no matter where the facts lead,” Pompeo said. He added that he would do this “with regard to this issue and each and every issue.”

Under his leadership, Pompeo said the CIA would provide “accurate, timely, robust and clear-eyed analysis of Russian activities.”

Other Stories of Interest

Things Just Keep Getting More Interesting: Inspector General to Investigate FBI’s Dealings With Hillary Clinton Emails

FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

These days, Washington is anything but dull. President elect-Donald Trump just had his first press conference  since the election. The Senate is conducting confirmation hearings for Trump appointees. And now this.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz announced Thursday, as a result of requests from politicians and organizations,  that his office will examine the way the FBI handled the Hillary Clinton email scandal.

Specifically, his office will look into:

  • Allegations that Department or FBI policies or procedures were not followed in connection
  • Allegations that Department or FBI policies or procedures were not followed in connection
    with, or in actions leading up to or related to, the FBI Director’s public announcement on
    July 5, 2016, and the Director’s letters to Congress on October 28 and November 6, 2016,
    and that certain underlying investigative decisions were based on improper considerations
  • Allegations that the FBI Deputy Director should have been recused from participating in
    certain investigative matters;
  • Allegations that the Department’s Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs
    improperly disclosed non-public information to the Clinton campaign and/or should have
    been recused from participating in certain matters;
  •  Allegations that Department and FBI employees improperly disclosed non-public
    information; and
  •  Allegations that decisions regarding the timing of the FBI’s release of certain Freedom of
    Information Act (FOIA) documents on October 30 and November 1, 2016, and the use of a
    Twitter account to publicize same, were influenced by improper considerations.

Many U.S. Airports Allow Loaded Guns Outside of TSA Screening Areas

gun-161223_960_720

By Allan Lengel and James Gordon Meek
ABC News

Not only is it legal in America to transport unloaded, cased and locked firearms as checked luggage on airlines, but to the dismay of airport security officers it is also legal to carry a loaded weapon into 11 of the top 20 major airports including Los Angeles, Atlanta, Phoenix and Las Vegas — which all have had incidents, as ABC News has found.

The killing of five travelers inside a Florida airport last week allegedly by a man who legally transported a handgun from Alaska in his checked luggage has renewed concerns over state laws that allow firearms to be carried into baggage claim and ticketing areas in half of the busiest U.S. airports.

While airport security has been significantly tightened since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, gun-friendly state laws nationwide allow law-abiding citizens to possess firearms in areas outside of the TSA passenger screening security bubble like the check-in lounge and baggage claim, even in major terminals.

In some instances, gun rights advocates carrying loaded AR-15 assault rifles through public areas of major American airports have caused a stir, despite having a legal right to openly carry their weapons.

Some airports allow only “open carry,” while others require that weapons be concealed by individuals who hold state gun permits that are given to those who pass background checks.

To read the full story click here.