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Petition Circulated for Border Patrol Agent Who Was Killed Protecting Family

Javier Vega Jr.

Javier Vega Jr.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The National Border Patrol Council is pressing for a fallen colleague’s death to be considered “in the line of duty.”

Javier Vega Jr. was shot and killed by two undocumented immigrants in front of his family during a fishing trip in Willacy County two years ago.

Now the National Border Patrol Council has filed a petition for Vega’s family, whom he protected during a robbery attempt, RGVProud reports. 

The argument is that Vega died trying to prevent a criminal act and therefore his death should be considered “in the line of duty.”

“He served his country. He served his community and I believe we owe it to him to honor him properly,” National Border Patrol Council President Chris Cabrera said.

  

Denver Post: Time for DEA to Stop Stalling on Reclassifying Marijuana

marijuana-istockBy Editorial Board
Denver Post

Colorado’s now years-long experiment with legal medical and recreational cannabis markets has been mostly positive and fascinating, and yet the federal government has been slow to rethink its decades-long prohibitionist position.

We hope the Obama administration takes advantage of its historic opportunity to end or take steps toward dismantling the destructive war on pot. What an irony it would be if Obama, who has openly admitted to pot use in his early years, and who has shown great tolerance toward local legalization laws, left office without having moved the nation away from the antiquated reefer-madness enforcement of past presidencies.

The problem appears to be entrenchment at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which missed the July 1 deadlineit set for itself to reach a determination on whether to reclassify marijuana from its current — laughable — position as a Schedule I substance. Like heroin, the classification is reserved for the most dangerous drugs with which the DEA concerns itself.

A DEA spokesman told The Cannabist’s Alicia Wallace last week that the agency remains in the final stages of an inter-agency review. But Denver regulatory attorney Tom Downey, who recently wrote in these pages about the DEA’s reclassification or declassification options, suggested the DEA would not reach a decision this year.

To read more click here. 

NYT Editorial: Justice Department Too Slow to Apply Mercy

jail2photoBy Editorial Board
New York Times

President Obama last week commuted the prison terms of 214 federal inmates who were sent to prison under draconian, ’80s-era laws that have since been revised. Among them were 67 people serving life sentences, nearly all of them for nonviolent drug offenses.

Mercy was granted in these cases. But the federal clemency system — which moves far too slowly and is too often blocked by politics in both the Justice Department and the White House — was never intended to manage miscarriages of justice that happen on a vast scale, as was the case when so many Americans were sent to prison under the “tough on crime” policies of the 1980s.

The country needs a variety of mechanisms for reducing unreasonably long sentences. And the Justice Department, which has considerable latitude in these matters, needs to do more within the course of its regular operations to deal with the legacy of sentencing policies that have been recognized as destructively unfair.

The former attorney general, Eric Holder Jr., took an important step: In 2014, he supported the United States Sentencing Commission’s decision to reduce sentences for many nonviolent drug crimes and asked that people in prison be made eligible for the reductions. According to the Justice Department, more than 12,000 people have been released under that effort.

Recently, however, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a Justice Department agency, has come under criticism for not doing enough with the powers it already has to help inmates who deserve to be released. The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 authorizes the bureau to ask a federal judge to reduce an inmate’s sentence when there are “extraordinary and compelling” reasons for doing so.

To read more click here. 

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Weekend Series on Crime: The Contract Killer called ‘The Iceman’

FBI Agent Was on Scene of ‘Draw Muhammad’ Attack in Garland, Texas

Garland_TXBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An undercover FBI agent was on the scene when two ISIS supporters opened fire at a “Draw Muhammad” contest in a Dallas suburb, according to newly filed court documents.

The shooting on May 3, 2015, involved two men who used assault rifles to attack people at a convention center in Garland, Texas, where a “First Annual Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest” was taking place, The Hill reports. 

Hour before the attack, the FBI warned local police of one of the shooters, Elton Simpson, whom the bureau had spent years tracking.

It’s unclear why the FBI didn’t intervene before the attack.

PolitFact: Relatives of Slain Border Patrol Agent Wrong About Available Agents

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Relatives of Brian Terry, the Border Patrol agent who was killed in a shootout with Mexican bandits in December 2010, criticized President Obama for “thinly equipped” Border Patrol agents.

“In Arizona, for example, there are only one and a half agents per every 10 square miles,” Kelly Terry-Willis said July 18. “This is unacceptable.”

Kent Terry continued, “Only one candidate is serious about border security, and that’s Donald Trump.”

PolitFact checked the assertion about Border Patrol staffing and concluded it was “false.” 

PolitFact wrote:

Terry-Willis said, in Arizona,”there are only one and a half (Border Patrol) agents per every 10 square miles.”

Based on our calculations, she actually overestimates the number of Border Patrol agents compared to square miles. But that’s still misleading — and leaves out important context.

Most Border Patrol agents survey areas closer to the Arizona-Mexico border, not the rest of the state. The number of agents per linear mile is much higher.

We rate the statement False.

Homeland Security Searches for Drones Capable of Facial Recognition

FBI-facial-recognitionBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security is looking to Silicon Valley for specially designed drones.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that officials met last week with technology entrepreneurs in search of small, light-weight drones that are easy to fly and can cover vast stretches of desert.

The drones also need to be able to provide images good enough to scan faces against a database for prior criminal history.

“There can be questions about how accurate that is and legitimate questions about how someone’s picture got into a database,” said John Simpson, director of Consumer Watchdog’s privacy project.

Border Patrol currently uses drones, but the technology isn’t up to snuff, officials said.

FBI Released Aerial Video Footage of Baltimore Protests

FBI surveillance video from the Freddie Gray protests in Baltimore.

FBI surveillance video from the Freddie Gray protests in Baltimore.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI captured more than 18 hours of aerial surveillance video from the Baltimore protests following the death of Freddie Gray in 2015.

The video was shot from traditional piloted aircraft, not drones.

The videos were released as part of a Freedom of Information Act request by the ACLU.

The raw video is available at the FBI’s website.

The FBI has been using surveillance planes since the 1970s.

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