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Teachers, Others Oppose FBI’s Online Anti-Extremism Video

Screenshot of the video, "Don't Be a Puppet."

Screenshot of the video, “Don’t Be a Puppet.”

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI hoped to discourage teenagers from becoming extremists by introducing a video called, “Don’t Be a Puppet.” 

The idea was to counter homegrown extremism by teaching users how to identify young people who are gravitating toward radical ideology.

But now the American Federation of Teachers union and other groups are vocally opposing the video, saying it could lead to more distrust of peaceful Muslims, the Wall Street Journal reports. 

The Wall Street Journal wrote:

In August, the groups, which include the American Association of School Administrators and American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, wrote a letter to FBI director James Comey saying they were “deeply troubled” by the Don’t Be A Puppet campaign and claimed it would increase distrust of Muslim and Middle Eastern students. Critics of the website fear that the recent bomb attacks in New York and New Jersey, and stabbings at a Minnesota mall, will be used to further justify its use with young people.

The website—which walks users through various topics related to extremism and allows them to “free the puppet’ after each section—references religious and environmental extremism, white supremacy, and anarchists. It offers short explanations of the Sept. 11 attacks, as well as the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City.

Specifically, the advocacy groups have raised concerns that the computer program can too easily be interpreted as singling out Muslims. Critics have taken issue with several of the potential signs of extremist behavior that the website warns users to report—such as “talking about traveling to places that sound suspicious” and “using code words or unusual language.”

Michael Mason on Clinton Probe: ‘All I Know is That I trust FBI Director Jim Comey’

Michael Mason is a retired Executive Assistant Director of the FBI.

Mike Mason/fbi photo

Mike Mason/fbi photo

By Michael Mason

We live in a country with an imperfect judicial system.  Every day of the week people are not charged for crimes others believe them to be guilty of committing.

There are many reasons why this occurs.

In the case involving Hillary Clinton and her handling of classified e-mails, most clamoring for her prosecution probably lack any detailed knowledge of the facts and are more driven by their strong dislike of Mrs. Clinton.  I don’t claim to possess any knowledge of the facts in the Clinton investigation either, so it is difficult for me to offer an opinion regarding the merits of pursuing a prosecution in this case.

Were her actions careless or traitorous?  I suspect they were the former, and doubt any one would seriously argue they were the latter.

Did she act with malice aforethought or for ill-considered convenience?  What was the nature of the classified materials improperly handled?  Granted classified is classified regardless of the over-zealous use the high-end classification of documents that could be posted on bill boards with no harm to national security.  The notion that all classified materials fit into the same bucket is patently absurd and those in the business know this to be true.

So where does this leave me?

All I know is that I trust FBI Director Jim Comey.  I believe in his integrity and his honesty.  Ultimately the FBI does not make the decision regarding whether a case will be pursued for prosecution, not even the Director of the FBI.

That authority resides solely with the United States Justice Department.  So in the very loud and boisterous complaining that so often surrounds a matter that is steeped in political intrigue, what seems to have been lost is that the Justice Department could have overruled Director Comey and pursued the prosecution of Hillary Clinton, but they did not.

Some of the brightest legal minds in the country serve in the Department of Justice.  The Justice Department cannot abdicate the responsibility that resides solely in their wheelhouse based on the recommendation of the FBI Director.   I have read plenty regarding Director Comey’s recommendation to the Justice Department, but little of their decision not to pursue a prosecution.

This is not an attempt of a former FBI executive to protect its current Director as I do not believe he needs anyone to protect him.  Nor is this an opinion piece regarding whether a prosecution should have been pursued.  It is only my wish that we could distill the anger and hatred that so often drives our opinions regarding critically important issues of the day.

 

How FBI Foiled Alleged Militia Plot to Bomb Apartment Where Muslims Lived

Three men accused of plotting to blow up an apartment building where Muslims lived.

Three men accused of plotting to blow up an apartment building where Muslims lived.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI conducted an 8-month investigation into a militant group that culminated in the arrest of three men accused of conspiring to kill countless Muslim immigrants in Kansas.

A confidential source was embedded with the militia group and provided vital information to investigators about the group’s plans, WFTV reports. 

The three men are accused of planning to bomb a southwestern Kansas apartment complex, where numerous Somali immigrants lived, and stockpiling firearms, explosives and ammunitions to carry out the plot.

“These charges are based on eight months of investigation by the FBI that is alleged to have taken the investigators deep into a hidden culture of hatred and violence,” U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said. “Many Kansans may find it as startling as I do that such things could happen here.”

Charged were Curtis Allen, 49, Gavin Wright, 49, and Patrick Eugene Stein, 47, who were members of the Crusaders.

FBI Documents: State Department Tried to Get FBI to Declassify Clinton Email

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Newly released FBI documents are raising questions about the integrity of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server when she was secretary of state.

In one instance, Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy repeatedly urged the FBI to declassify an email from Clinton’ private server, CNN reports. 

At issue is whether the FBI and State Department were involved in a “quid pro quo” that called for declassifying an email in exchange for the State Department allowing FBI personnel in Iraq. The State Department denies there was any quid pro quo and said it would not have been unusual for it to be involved in a discussion over the proper classification of a sensitive document.

The FBI denied such a deal was proposed or arranged.

In the meantime, Republicans are calling for the resignation of Kennedy, Fox News reports. 

FBI Asks Judge to Dismiss Lawsuit Over South Carolina Church Shooting

Dylann Roof

Dylann Roof

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is urging a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit that alleges the bureau should have prevented Dylan Roof from purchasing a gun that was used in last summer’s South Carolina church massacre.

The FBI argues it was unable to take action because of state and federal limits on background checks and local errors in record-keeping, ABC News reports. 

Roof, who is white, shot nine black parishioners inside Emanuel AME Church on June 17, 2015, with a .45-caliber handgun. Family of the victims argue in the lawsuit that Roof was barred from purchasing the gun because of a prior drug arrest.

The FBI responded to the lawsuit Friday, saying FBI negligence was not a factor.

“The shooting at the Emanuel AME Church was an atrocity of unspeakable proportions. The perpetrator’s actions were despicable,” attorneys for the government wrote. “But the United States is not liable in tort for the tragic death of plaintiff’s decedent.”

FBI Announces the Latest Crackdown on Child Sex Trafficking

FBI photo

FBI photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

San Diego — Trying to keep a focus on the plague of child sex trafficking,  FBI Director James Comey on Monday announced that 82 minors were rescued and 239 traffickers and their associates were arrested in a nationwide crackdown titled Operation Cross Country X that ran from Oct. 13 to Oct. 16 and involved members of state, local and federal law enforcement.

“Operation Cross Country aims to shine a spotlight into the darkest corners of our society that seeks to prey on the most vulnerable of our population,” Comey said at the International Association of Police Chiefs in San Diego.  “As part of this effort, we are not only looking to root out those who engage in the trafficking of minors, but through our Office for Victim Assistance, we offer a lifeline to minors to help them escape from a virtual prison no person ever deserves.”

For the first time, Comey said, the program, in its 10th year, included foreign countries: Cambodia, Canada, the Philippines, and Thailand.  In Canada, authorities recovered 16 children, while in Cambodia, Thailand, and the Philippines, authorities recovered 25 children, including a 2-year-old girl.

Comey said while some are relieved when law enforcement intervenes, not all are grateful, and may require counseling and other assistance to essentially be deprogramed.

President of IACP Advocates That Police Officers and Communities of Color Break the Historical Cycle of Mistrust

Chief Terrence Cunningham

Chief Terrence M. Cunningham

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

SAN DIEGO — Terrence M. Cunningham, president of  the International Association of Chiefs of Police and chief of the Wellesley, Mass. Police Department, issued a powerful message to thousands of law enforcement officials here on Monday about breaking the historical cycle of mistrust between police and communities of color.

He stated:

Over the years, thousands of police officers have laid down their lives for their fellow citizens while hundreds of thousands more have been injured while protecting their communities. The nation owes all of those officers, as well as those who are still on patrol today, an enormous debt of gratitude.

At the same time, it is also clear that the history of policing has also had darker periods.

There have been times when law enforcement officers, because of the laws enacted by federal, state, and local governments, have been the face of oppression for far too many of our fellow citizens. In the past, the laws adopted by our society have required police officers to perform many unpalatable tasks, such as ensuring legalized discrimination or even denying the basic rights of citizenship to many of our fellow Americans.

While this is no longer the case, this dark side of our shared history has created a multigenerational—almost inherited—mistrust between many communities of color and their law enforcement agencies.

Many officers who do not share this common heritage often struggle to comprehend the reasons behind this historic mistrust. As a result, they are often unable to bridge this gap and connect with some segments of their communities.

While we obviously cannot change the past, it is clear that we must change the future. We must move forward together to build a shared understanding. We must forge a path that allows us to move beyond our history and identify common solutions to better protect our communities.

For our part, the first step in this process is for law enforcement and the IACP to acknowledge and apologize for the actions of the past and the role that our profession has played in society’s historical mistreatment of communities of color.

At the same time, those who denounce the police must also acknowledge that today’s officers are not to blame for the injustices of the past. If either side in this debate fails to acknowledge these fundamental truths, we will be unlikely to move past them.

Overcoming this historic mistrust requires that we must move forward together in an atmosphere of mutual respect. All members of our society must realize that we have a mutual obligation to work together to ensure fairness, dignity, security, and justice.

It is my hope that, by working together, we can break this historic cycle of mistrust and build a better and safer future for us all.

FBI Denies ‘Quid Pro Quo’ in Hillary Clinton Email Investigation

FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI defended itself against claims that the bureau engaged in a “quid pro quo” arrangement with Hillary Clinton’s State Department after Rep. Jason Chaffetz raised an allegation of “potential criminality” during an interview with Fox News last week.

Chaffetz, R-Utah, said recently released documents from the FBI’s year-long investigation into Clinton’s private email server suggested an “alleged quid pro quo” between an FBI official and Patrick Kennedy, the undersecretary for management for the State Department.

“In return for altering the classification, the possibility of additional slots for the FBI at missions overseas was discussed,” Chaffetz said.

But according to CBS News, the FBI said no such arrangement occurred. In a statement, the FBI said the State Department asked the bureau to “review and make classification determinations on FBI emails and information” before the agency’s investigation into the Clinton server.

“A senior State Department official requested the FBI re-review that email to determine whether it was in fact classified or whether it might be protected from release under a different FOIA exemption,” the FBI wrote. “A now-retired FBI official, who was not part of the subsequent Clinton investigation, told the State Department official that they would look into the matter.”

The FBI maintains that the official raised a separate issue about employees abroad.

“Having been previously unsuccessful in attempts to speak with the senior State official, during the same conversation, the FBI official asked the State Department official if they would address a pending, unaddressed FBI request for space for additional FBI employees assigned abroad,” the bureau said.

“The FBI official consulted with a senior FBI executive responsible for determining the classification of the material and determined the email was in fact appropriately classified at the Secret level,” they continued. “The FBI official subsequently told the senior State official that the email was appropriately classified at the Secret level and that the FBI would not change the classification of the email. The classification of the email was not changed, and it remains classified today.”