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American University Removes Controversial Statue of Man Convicted of Killing FBI Agents

Leonard Peltier FBI wanted poster.

Leonard Peltier FBI wanted poster.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

American University is removing a controversial statue of a Native American activist who was convicted of murdering two FBI agents in 1977.

The decision to remove the statue of Leonard Peltier came after the president of the FBI agents association urged the university to take down the work of art because it was offensive.

Many Native Americans believe Peltier was wrongly convicted and sentenced to two life terms.

The university released the following statement:

“American University strongly supports the mission of museums to present thought provoking art to inform and educate. Within the AU Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, we have hosted numerous exhibits of political and sometimes controversial art.

The decision to host the Peltier statue required a more thorough assessment of the implications of placing the piece in a prominent, public space outside the museum. With the benefit of a fuller review, we have made a decision to remove the piece from this location.

The subject matter and placement of the piece improperly suggested that American University has assumed an advocacy position of clemency for Mr. Peltier, when no such institutional position has been taken. Further, the nature and location of the piece called into question our ability to honor our responsibilities to ensure the security of the art and the safety of our community.

The AU Museum has offered to work with the artist to find an alternative organization that would be willing to exhibit the art. We affirm our commitment to the AU Museum and will ensure that its mission is fully supported in the Katzen Arts Center.”

The Blade: ‘This Is No Time to Fall Down’ on Border Security

Border PatrolBy Editorial Board
The Blade 

This is no time to fall down on security.

A New York Times investigation documented incidents of bribery and other ethical lapses involving 200 Department of Homeland Security officers and contract workers during the past 10 years. While that number represents less than 1 percent of the DHS workforce, even one compromised officer can do tremendous damage to the nation’s safety. There’s also the question of how many incidents the newspaper, or DHS leadership, doesn’t know about. There are bound to be more out there.

In some cases, officers let immigrants and drugs into the country illegally, sabotaged investigations into criminal activity, and passed confidential government information to drug cartels. The ethical lapses are blamed, in part, on increased overtures from drug dealers and human traffickers frustrated with tighter border security. One wonders whether ethically challenged officers would also help terrorists who need intelligence information or documents to get into the country. Where does a bad egg draw the line?

To read more click here. 

Trump Team Requests Documents to Build Wall Along U.S.-Mexico Border

Donald TrumpBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

While many people doubt President-elect Donald Trump can deliver on his promise to build a wall and have Mexico pay for it, his transition team has begun requesting documents and analysis on border walls and barrier construction.

Reuters reports that the team also is requesting information about expanding immigrant detention and aerial surveillance.

Trump’s transition team hasn’t commented on the internal agency memos obtained by Reuters.

CBP officials responded to the memo, saying fencing could be erected along more than 400 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. 

Trump has pledged to be tough on immigration and even said during the campaign that he wanted to remove every undocumented immigrant.

Border Patrol Vehicle Struck by Bullets; Suspects on the Loose

border-patrol-struckBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Suspects shot at and struck a Border Patrol vehicle on Friday evening in southern Arizona near Tucson, shattering a window with bullets, KGUN9 TV reports.

The agent was uninjured and did not return fire.

The suspects remain at large.

An agent assigned to a mobile surveillance unit south of Sierra Vista heard the gun shots ring out.

It was unclear why the agent came under fire.

Other Stories of Interest

Parker: 2016 — Criminal Justice Issues By The Number

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

2016 has had significant developments in the many categories of the criminal justice arena. Here are some numbers in a few of those categories.

64 and 135 –  Law Enforcement Line of Duty Deaths and Murders

Ross Parker

Ross Parker

2016 was a dangerous year for police and other law enforcement officers. 135 officers suffered on the job deaths, up from 123 in 2015. This number was the highest since 2011. And the number one cause was as victims of shootings, up tragically to 64 from 41 last year. 21 of these were from ambush-style shootings, the highest number in over two decades.

Although there has been much controversy about animosity between police and racial minorities, the great majority of the killers were white. Many of those responsible were either mentally ill or claimed to be “sovereign citizens” or members of hate groups.

The average age of those officers who died on the job was 40 years, and the average length of service was 14 years. Six were women police officers, the same number of federal agents who died in the line of duty.

These statistics, as well as other factors, have had a seriously negative effect on police morale, early retirements, and recruitment difficulties. It’s a dangerous job to protect and serve.

1,324 – President Obama’s Clemency Grants

The President has issued more commutations (sentence reductions) and pardons (setting aside of convictions) than the last 11 Presidents combined. For example President Clinton exercised clemency a total of only 61 times during his 8 years in office. And, with 958 petitions still pending, Obama still has three more weeks to increase those numbers.

95 of this number were pardons. The rest were commutations. The overwhelming majority of the commutations involved “non-violent” drug offenders who received long sentences under then-existing mandatory minimum and high guideline sentence rules, some of which have since been reduced. Most of these commutations reduced sentences which will permit the offenders’ release in the next year or so. For example, many 30 year sentences were reduced to 20 years.

The majority of those receiving reductions were Hispanics or African Americans who had received the sentences before drug penalties were overhauled.

Obama and some bi-partisan support have also reduced sentence laws and guidelines. This has resulted in early release for tens of thousands of inmates.

20 and 30 – The Number of Executions and Death Sentences

With 20 executions and 30 people sentenced to death in 2016, the use and public tolerance for the supreme penalty continues to spiral down. The executions were the lowest number since 1991. The number has declined every year for the last 7 years. Likewise the number of sentences of death is the lowest figure since the death penalty was reinstated in 1972.

What is perhaps even more significant about the number of executions is that they occurred in only 5 states, Georgia (9), Texas (7), Alabama (2), Florida (1) and Missouri (1). The cases were largely confined to a few counties in these states.

This past week the United Nations with the support of 117 countries called for a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty.

The factors driving this trend include public fear of discrimination for those who are sentenced to death, the prospect of “botched” executions, the substantial costs of capital prosecutions and incarcerations, and the release of 130 death row inmates who have presented evidence of their innocence. Nationwide the average cost of each death penalty prosecution is estimated to be $2.4 million. California claims to have spent $4 billion in total on these cases and has not managed an execution in several years.

Even a “conservative” Supreme Court seems to be increasingly reluctant to approve the ultimate penalty. It has struck down various death penalty practices in several states, including Florida, Arizona, Oklahoma, and Delaware. The Florida Supreme Court recently set aside death sentences in what could be as many as 300 cases.

The death penalty lives on in an increasingly small part of the country.

Over 300 Million –The Number of Guns in America

Gun ownership increased in 2016, but polls and experts differ on the number. Some estimate that about 44% of American households have firearms, up about 7% in the last 2 years. Other surveys assert that the majority of these guns are owned by as few as 3% of the population. Almost all reports say there has been a significant increase in firearm permits and gun sales.

There were more than 50,000 instances of gun violence in the country with over 14,000 resulting in deaths and 30,000 in injuries.

The U.S. has the highest number of guns per capita in the world, estimated as 112 for every 100 residents. We have more guns than people. Compare this number with other countries:  Canada 30.6, Mexico 15, UK 6.6, Japan .6.

Ironically incidents of mass gun violence and efforts to curtail gun violence have only served to boost gun sales.

29 – The Number of States Legalizing Marijuana

Four more states joined the growing majority which have legalized marijuana in some form. Maine (whose vote is currently subject to a re-count), Massachusetts, Nevada, and California all passed recreational marijuana possession laws in November. Three others (North Dakota, Arkansas, and Florida) legalized its use for medical purposes. Well funded campaigns in another half dozen states are already underway for 2017.

The trend occurs as researchers are discovering more medical and health problems among regular users, especially the young. Use rates have doubled in the last three years according to Gallup Polls.

Meanwhile possession, distribution, and cultivation continue to be federal criminal offenses, although prosecutions for smaller amounts has largely terminated. DEA declined to reclassify the drug out of Schedule I this past year. President-elect Trump has not yet announced the new administration’s investigation and prosecution policy.

8 – The Number of Sitting Supreme Court Justices

Justice Antonin Scalia’s death and Senate Republicans’ refusal to even consider President Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland for the past 9 months have meant that the Supreme Court has operated one Justice short for most of 2016. Some have suggested that Obama perform a recess appointment of Garland in the short period between the two Congresses, but the move is probably unconstitutional.

Having only 8 Justices has had many negative consequences. The Court’s reputation has been damaged as an independent branch of government issuing the supreme law of the land according to legal precedent principles. Rather it has appeared to be a stepchild subject to the partisan wrangling of issue-oriented politicians.

There have been practical consequences as well. The Court is simply not considering many important cases in order to avoid controversy and 4-4 voting deadlocks.

Only 10 criminal cases have been scheduled for argument in the first four months of the 2016-2017 term, and only four since October. All four of the criminal opinions this term have been decided by unanimous votes, mostly by affirming the decision of the Court of Appeals.

The two cases scheduled for January illustrate the caution. Nelson v. Colorado considers the issue of whether a state can require an acquitted defendant to thereafter prove his innocence in order to recover a fine paid as part of the sentence. Only Colorado has such a bizarre rule. The other case, Lynch v. Dimaya, considers the issue of whether a part of the Immigration and Nationality Act on the removal of an alien from the U.S. is unconstitutionally vague. Neither case requires heavy lifting.

Meanwhile difficult and important cases continue to float around the pool of split and inconsistent decisions of the various lower courts.

P.S. To all of our Tickle the Wire readers who are still actively involved in federal law enforcement, we wish that all of their 2017 cases involve targets like the man in The Woodlands,Texas who called police this past week to report that two men had robbed him while he was selling marijuana to them. All three will celebrate New Years Eve in the local jail.

Thanks for the tip, Justin.

 

Weekend Series on Crime History: 5 Most Dangerous Hackers of All Time

FBI Report Squarely Blames Russia for Meddling in 2016 Presidential Election

Russian Embassy in Washington D.C.

Russian Embassy in Washington D.C.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI issued its first statement on the cyberattacks targeting the 2016 presidential election, blaming Russian intelligence services for launching a broad hacking campaign.

In a 13-page report co-authored by Homeland Security, the FBI concluded that Russia’s foreign intelligence agency, the FSB, sent a malicious link to U.S. government targets, Reuters reports. 

Russia continues to deny the hacking claims.

The FBI’s report came on the same day President Obama imposed retaliatory measures, including the expulsion of 35 Russian intelligence operatives.

The FBI said the Democratic National Committee was among the targets. The DNC also was infiltrated by another Russian agency, the military GRU, in early 2016.

Even some Republicans criticized Russia’s meddling in the election. 

Virginian-Pilot: DEA Has Bad Relationship with Facts, Science on Drug Risks

Photo by Steve Neavling.

Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Editorial Board
Virginian-Pilot

Leaders of America’s Drug Enforcement Administration have long demonstrated a shockingly casual relationship with facts and science on drug risks.

The idea that marijuana — completely legal in several states and available for medical use in most — should be listed on the same Schedule 1 with heroin, bath salts and Ecstasy is the kind of laughable conclusion only a zealot could justify.

The DEA is supposed to be a dispassionate law enforcement agency, doing its best to keep America safe. But when it wastes time, energy and money on the indefensible, it undermines the agency’s very legitimacy.

Take cannabidiol, commonly called CBD.

Earlier this month, the DEA classified CBD, along with other marijuana derivatives, as Schedule 1 drugs, which means they have “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”

Except that’s simply not true. CBD — which doesn’t impart the high of THC — has well-established medical uses.

According to a 2013 study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, “CBD acts in some experimental models as an anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant, anti-oxidant, anti-emetic, anxiolytic and antipsychotic agent, and is therefore a potential medicine for the treatment of neuroinflammation, epilepsy, oxidative injury, vomiting and nausea, anxiety and schizophrenia, respectively.”