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Susan Ferensic Named Special Agent in Charge of Columbia Field Office in S.C.

FBI’s Columbia Field Office in South Carolina. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

Susan Ferensic has been named special agent in charge of the Columbia Field Office in South Carolina. 

Ferensic’s career with the FBI began in 1997 in the Laboratory Division as a computer forensic examiner combing through digital evidence. In 2000, she became a special agent and was assigned criminal and national security computer intrusion matters in the Washington Field Office after graduating from the FBI Academy. 

In 2007, Ferensic became supervisory special agent in the Cyber Division at FBI headquarters, where she served as a program manager for criminal computer intrusion investigations. In 2009, she transferred to the Albuquerque Field Office in New Mexico, leading the cyber and technically trained agent squad. She also served as the supervisory special agent of Albuquerque’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Ferensic was promoted in 2014 to special assistant to the executive assistant director of the Science and Technology Branch at FBI headquarters. In 2016, she became assistant special agent in charge of the Criminal Branch of the Sacramento Field Office in California.

Ferensic was named section chief of the Digital Forensics and Analytics Section in the Operational Technology Division at FBI headquarters in 2018. A year later, she was promoted to chief of staff of the Criminal Cyber Response and Services Branch at FBI headquarters, where she served before being appointed to head the Columbia Field Office.

Ferensic received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Maryland and went on to work as a computer scientist at the Department of Defense before joining the FBI.

Trump Lambasts FBI Investigation of His Supporters Surrounding Biden Bus

President Trump at a recent rally. Screen grab via Trump campaign.

By Steve Neavling

The FBI is investigating President Trump supporters who surrounded a Joe Biden campaign bus on a Texas highway over the weekend and smashed into one car, prompting officials from the campaign to cancel a rally.

Trump, who often trumpets “law and order,” said his supporters “did nothing wrong” and criticized the FBI for investigating.  

“FBI San Antonio is aware of the incident and investigating,” the bureau’s San Antonio Field Office confirmed on Twitter. “No further information is available at this time.”

Biden campaign officials said the Trump supporters, who aggressively surrounded the bus in trucks and cars with large flags flapping in the wind, tried to run the bus off the road. 

Biden was not on the bus, his campaign said. 

Trump responded to the caravan, tweeting, “I LOVE TEXAS!”

In another tweet Sunday, Trump suggested the FBI should stop investigating the incident.  

“In my opinion, these patriots did nothing wrong,” Trump tweeted. “Instead, the FBI & Justice should be investigating the terrorists, anarchists, and agitators of ANTIFA, who run around burning down our Democrat run cities and hurting our people!”

James Davis, Ex-FBI Agent Who Helped Process Saddam Hussein After His Capture, Died Unexpectedly

FBI Agent James Davis helping process Iraq leader Saddam Hussein after he was captured.

By Steve Neavling

James Davis, the former FBI agent who led the team that processed Saddam Hussein after his capture in Iraq and later led the Denver Field Office, has died. 

Davis was walking his dog when he had a heart attack Friday morning, The Denver Post reports

A Detroit native, Davis began his career with the FBI in 1985. After serving as assistant special agent in charge of the Indianapolis Field Office, Davis served as the deputy on-scene commander of the bureau’s Baghdad Operations Center in Iraq, where he was responsible for overseeing post-war counterterrorism and counterintelligence operations from November 2003 to December 2004.

In December 2003, when Hussein was captured from an underground hiding spot, Davis led the team that questioned, fingerprinted and collected DNA samples from the former Iraqi dictator.

“He shook. He was just a sick, old man,” Davis said in the 2008 interview. “He was just coughing. He was not healthy and he had not eaten well.”

Davis went on to serve as the on-scene commander for the FBI in Afghanistan from December 2004 to February 2005, leading the bureau’s operations to hunt down al Qaeda operatives. 

In March 2008, Davis was named special agent in charge of the Denver Field Office. 

After 26 years with the FBI, Davis became the public safety and homeland security advisor in Colorado, where he served for three years in Gov. John Hickenlooper’s administration.

“Jim Davis, in the face of danger and disaster, always put others first. He was the unsung hero who made the 2008 DNC Convention a great success, and Colorado was fortunate that he agreed to come reorganize our Department of Public Safety right before four of the most difficult years for our state,” Hickenlooper said in a statement. “Jim was unwaveringly caring and empathetic, helping responders and victims to deal with some of the worst tragedies imaginable. We lost a great Coloradan and a great man today. My heart goes out to his family and friends across the state and around the world.”

Davis later worked in Colorado as a security consultant and most recently was a security advisor in Denver to the National Football League.  

Davis graduated from Michigan State University with an accounting degree in 1982 and worked as a certified public accountant in Chicago before joining the FBI.   

Weekend Series on Crime History: The JFK Assassination

DOJ to Allow Local, State Police to Wear Body Cameras During Task Force Arrests

Body cams, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling

The Justice Department has reversed its ban on body cameras, saying state and local law enforcement may wear the devices during some joint operations with federal law enforcement. 

The move comes after some police officials have said the ban violates their public accountability policies. The DOJ had worried body cams would reveal the identities of undercover agents.

Under the change announced Thursday, federally deputized officers may activate body cams while serving arrest warrants or making other planned arrest operations while on a federal task force. 

“After spending a substantial amount of time examining this issue, assessing the results of the pilot program, and taking into account the interests and priorities of all the law enforcement agencies involved, I am pleased to announce that the department will permit the use of body-worn cameras on our federal task forces in specific circumstances,” Attorney General William P. Barr said in a statement.  “The Department of Justice has no higher priority than ensuring the safety and security of the American people and this policy will continue to help us fulfill that mission.”

The Justice Department’s task forces include the ATF, DEA, FBI and U.S. Marshals Service. 

The task forces launched a pilot in January 2020 to allow local police to use body cams. Those include the Houston Police Department, Detroit Police Department, Wichita Police Department, Salt Lake City Police Department and Park City Police Department. 

FBI Director Christopher Wray spoke in favor of the ban reversal. 

“The FBI values the collaborative efforts of our state, local, and tribal partners, as they are integral to the success of our common mission to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution,” Wray said in a statement. “We hope this program will enable us to further expand these efforts and build upon deep-rooted relationships within our communities.”

FBI Agents Association Urges Trump, Biden to Allow Wray to Finish 10-year Term

Christopher Wray is sworn in as the new FBI director. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

The FBI Agents Association (FBIAA) is calling on the next president to ensure Christopher Wray is able finish his 10-year term for the stability, credibility, and integrity” of the bureau.  

In letters to President Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, the group that represents more than 14,000 active and retired special agents says Wray “operates indepdently from partisan activities.”

“He has not led the Bureau in a political manner, and politics should not determine his fate as Director,” FBIAA President Brian O’Hare writes. “While the President can remove an FBI Director, doing so could lead to instability and damage to the Bureau’s operations, which is why Congress intended to insulate the position of Director from political whims.”

The letters come amid speculation that Trump, in the event that he wins reelection in November, plans to dump Wray. Trump has lashed out at his FBI director for failing to announce an investigation into Biden and his family’s business activities. 

The FBI has a tradition of not intervening in presidential races.

“Unanticipated changes in Bureau leadership are challenging and can undermine stability, making it more difficult to effectively protect our country,” O’Hare writes. “Right now, the FBI is confronting an even more daunting threat environment than in 2011—with threats from both domestic and foreign terrorists, espionage, cyber-attacks, and traditional crimes. This country needs stability in leadership of the Bureau during these challenging times, and creating upheavals at the Bureau after the elections can only undermine the goal of protecting the safety and security of our country.”   

Trump appointed Wray in 2017 after firing then-Director James Comey. 

“Director Wray has led the FBI through a complex period, and is ensuring that FBI Special Agents remain focused on fighting the criminals and terrorists who threaten our safety,” O’Hare writes. “No matter the outcome of next week’s election, the men and women of the FBI are urging whomever becomes our next President to allow Director Wray to lead the Bureau and serve our country.” 

Ex-Justice Official Praises FBI-Ukraine Cooperation in Kidnapping Case but Blasts Trump

By Allan Lengel

A former Justice Department official on Thursday praised the cooperation between the FBI and Ukraine for the indictment and arrest of an Afghan national charged with kidnapping former New York Times reporter David Rohde in 2008.

At the same time, Steven Pelak, the former chief of the Counterespionage Section of the Justice Department, criticized President Donald Trump for putting such cooperation between the FBI and Ukraine in jeopardy. The suspect was arrested in Ukraine and transferred Tuesday to the U.S. where he made an initial federal court appearance in New York before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ona T. Wang on Wednesday.

David Rohde

“The President’s foreign bribery scheme and obstruction of justice put such efforts at risk,” Pelak tells ticklethewire.com. “By seeking to abuse the criminal justice system in Ukraine and the U.S. for personal gain, Mr Trump put the day-to-day good faith working relationships of U.S. and Ukrainian law enforcement at risk. 

“Over time, such relationships are built and persist only with honesty and the rule of law.  That is an important part of the story and lesson,” Pelak said, of the efforts to coerce Ukrainian officials to obtain false evidence against Biden.

According to authorities, in November 2008,  Haji Najibullah, 44, of Afghanistan and his co-conspirators, armed with machineguns, kidnapped the Rohde and two Afghan nationals who were assisting him.

Ex-DOJ official Steven Pelak

About five days later, Najibullah and others forced the three hostages to hike across the border from Afghanistan to Pakistan, where they were held hostage for seven months.

During their captivity, Najibullah and others forced the victims to make numerous calls and videos seeking help. In one video, Rohde was forced to beg for his life while a guard pointed a machinegun at his face.

Rohde, who now works for the New Yorker, and one of the other captives escaped. The third person stayed behind.

“Whether someone commits a violent act against an American citizen here at home or overseas, we’ll never stop aggressively pursuing charges against them and, when necessary, seeking their transfer to U.S. custody,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the FBI William F. Sweeney Jr said in a statement.  “Najibullah’s reprehensible actions over a decade ago earned him a flight to the U.S. yesterday. Today he arrived in U.S. federal court to face our justice system.”

Two other defendants in the case are still at large.

It was “great work by the FBI with an assist by Ukraine,” said Pelak, who also worked at one time as an assistant U.S Attorney in the D.C. office handling terrorism. He currently practices law in D.C. with the firm Holland & Hart.

Former DHS Chief of Staff Comes Out As Anonymous Trump Author

Miles Taylor, the former Homeland Security chief of staff.

By Steve Neavling

Miles Taylor, the former Homeland Security chief of staff, revealed himself as the anonymous author of a New York Times op-ed and a book that was heavily critical of President Trump. 

“To be clear, writing those works was not about eminence (they were published without attribution), not about money (I declined a hefty monetary advance and pledged to donate the bulk of the proceeds), and not about crafting a score-settling ‘tell all’ (my focus was on the President himself and his character, not denigrating former colleagues),” Taylor wrote in a Medium post.

Taylor, who denied being “Anonymous” as recently as August, said he struggled with the decision to attack the president and said he “wanted this President to succeed” when he first joined the administration with John Kelly, Trump’s first Homeland Security secretary and later the White House chief of staff. 

But, he wrote, someone had to hold Trump accountable. 

“Too often in times of crisis, I saw Donald Trump prove he is a man without character, and his personal defects have resulted in leadership failures so significant that they can be measured in lost American lives,” Taylor wrote. “I witnessed Trump’s inability to do his job over the course of two-and-a-half years.”

Taylor also was the chief of staff to Secretary Kirstjen, serving at DHS from 2017 to 2019.