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Gizmodo Calls FBI Director ‘a Clown’ for Handling of iPhone Debate

FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey

Kate Knibbs
Gizmodo 

Bipartisanship, baby! Congress finally found something to agree on this Super Tuesday – how slippery the FBI’s stance on encryption is.

At a House Judiciary hearing on Capitol Hill, representatives grilled FBI Director James Comey and Apple’s lawyers over their ongoing battle. The key to the dispute is whether the FBI can compel Apple to create software that would unlock a terrorism suspect’s iPhone.

Most Democrats and Republicans asked Comey pointed questions. (A few complimented the FBI director on his candor, a sad reflection of how conditioned House members are to getting stonewalled by intelligence officials.)

Comey’s prepared testimony rehashed an argument he has trotted out before: Encryption is a cloak for evildoers that lets criminals “go dark” and escape law enforcement. As we’ve said before, this argument simplifies a complex issue into an inaccurate Bad Guys vs. Good Guys situation. The stale prepared statement was nothing compared to how Comey responded to the barrage of questions.

Members of Congress thanked Comey for furthering dialog at the end of the session, but the only thing the FBI Director cleared up is how flexible his relationship with truth is. The only time he spoke an unambiguous truth was when he said that Apple is a company with a responsibility to its investors, and that it is motivated to maximize profit.

Comey compared Apple’s security measures to a “vicious guard dog.” It’s a bizarre metaphor, but here’s a match: The FBI sent a clown to Congress today, spewing silliness to distract from the agency’s objective to expand its surveillance powers.

To read more click here. 

Border Chief Says Agents Should Quit If They Dislike Obama’s Amnesty Program

Border Patrol agents reads the Miranda rights to a Mexican national arrested for transporting drugs.By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The strong message Tuesday came as tensions grow between Congress and the White House over the executive amnesty program, the Washington Times reports. 

Kerlikowske dismissed Congressional testimony by the National Border Patrol Council chief, who said last month that agents are told to release illegal immigrants.

“I would not stand by if the Border Patrol was releasing people without going through all of the formalities,” Mr. Kerlikowske testified to the House Committee on Appropriations.

Still Republican leaders in the House said they plan to vote on joining a lawsuit that seeks to halt the amnesty.

“This executive amnesty is a direct attack on the Congress’s Article I powers under the Constitution,” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said. “The president is not permitted to write law. Only Congress is. The House will make that very clear.”

Secret Service to Investigate Agent Who Threw Photographer to Ground During Trump Rally

secret-service-3By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Secret Service is investigating one of its agents after he threw a Time photographer to the ground by his neck.

The Washington Post reports that the incident “raised questions about the role of the Secret Service on the campaign trail.”

Still, government officials defended the Secret Service, saying agents only become involved if someone threatens the candidate.

“We don’t care if people are standing and yelling at a candidate, or saying they want peace in the Middle East, but if they say they’re going to kill the candidate, then it’s going to get pretty bad,’’ said one official familiar with Secret Service procedures, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the events at Monday’s rally remain under investigation.

Trump has had Secret Service protection since early November, a common services for presidential candidates.

Time requested an investigation over “the level and nature of the agent’s response.”

FBI Director Said He’s Closely Monitoring Investigation into Clinton’s Use of Private E-mail Server

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director James Comey assured Congress on Tuesday that he’s closely monitoring the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server, The Hill reports. 

Comey was asked about the progress of the investigation while addressing the battle to get Apple to help unlock an iPhone.

“A few weeks back, the FBI’s general counsel James Baker acknowledged the the FBI is, quote, working on matters related to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, end quote,” Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, told Comey. 

Cabot asked Comey: “Is there anything that you can tell us as to when this matter might be wrapped up one way or the other?”

Comey answered: “I can’t, congressman, as you know we don’t talk about our investigations. What I can assure you is that I am very close personally to that investigation to ensure that we have the resources we need, including people and technology, and that it’s done the way the FBI tries to do all of it’s work: independently, competently and promptly. That’s our goal, and I’m confident that it’s being done that way, but I can’t give you any more details beyond that.”

Other Stories of Interest

Gerald Roberts Jr. and Timothy Gallagher Get New Assignments

Timothy Gallagher

Timothy Gallagher

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Gerald Roberts, Jr. has been named special agent in charge of the FBI’s  Intelligence Division at the Washington Field Office and Timothy Gallagher will head up the Newark office, the FBI announced.

Roberts most recently served as the section chief of the Terrorist Financing Operations Section in the Counterterrorism Division at FBI Headquarters.  He  joined the FBI in 1999.

Gallagher most recently served as a deputy assistant director in the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. He joined the FBI in 1996.

 

Time Expresses Concern Over Secret Service’s Tussle with Photographer at Trump Rally

Photographer Chris Morris

Photographer Chris Morris

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Time has contacted the Secret Service to express concerns over the aggressive nature of an agent who grabbed a news photographer by the neck and slammed him to the ground at a Donald Trump rally Monday.

Chris Morris, a veteran White House photographer who was covering the presidential campaign for Time, said he’s never had problems with the Secret Service.

“I’ve worked for nine years at the White House and have never had an altercation with the Secret Service,” Morris said in a statement. “What happened today was very unfortunate and unexpected. The rules at Trump events are significantly stricter than other campaigns and make it very difficult to work as a photographer, as many others have pointed out before me. I regret my role in the confrontation, but the agent’s response was disproportionate and unnecessarily violent. I hope this incident helps call attention to the challenges of press access.”

The Secret Service issued a statement after the incident: ““The Secret Service is aware of an incident involving an employee of the Secret Service that occurred earlier today in Radford, VA. At this time, our local field office is working with their law enforcement partners to determine the exact circumstances that led up to this incident. The Secret Service will provide further details as warranted once additional facts surrounding the situation are known.”

via GIPHY

The incident appeared to happen when Morris stepped outside of the press box to shoot Black Lives Matters protesters, who were told to leave the rally.

When told to stand in the restricted area, Morris responded, “Fuck you.”

That’s when the agent choke-slammed the photographer.

FEMA Hired 4 Employees with Criminal Backgrounds, Inspector General Reports

homeland2department-of-homeland-security-logo-300x300By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former FEMA official hired four employees with criminal backgrounds, paying them nearly $350,000 in combined annual salaries, a report has revealed.

Homeland Security Inspector General John Roth said the unidentified chief security officer knew about the criminal backgrounds of two of the employees and hired them anyway, the Associated Press reports. 

The employees were fired in 2012.

Roth recommended an investigation by the Homeland Security Department’s chief financial officer to determine whether other violations occurred. Roth also said the chief security officer should enforce premium pay rules.

A FEMA spokesman said the agency supports the recommendation and added that the agency has “taken a number of corrective actions to prevent current and future misuse” of pay rules.

TSA Stops Woman With Bullet-Lined Shoes at Baltimore Airport

Bullet-lined shoes discovered at an airport checkpoint. Photo by TSA.

Bullet-lined shoes discovered at an airport checkpoint. Photo by TSA.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A woman trying to board a flight was stopped when security found bullet-lined platform shoes with revolvers for heels.

The incident happened at Baltimore-Washington International Airport on Monday, when an unidentified passenger was stopped by the TSA for having the shoes and a bracelet lined with bullets, Time reports. 

“Shoes and bracelets that are less than ideal to wear or bring to a @TSA checkpoint. These delayed a traveler at BWI,” the agency’s spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein posted on Twitter Monday.

The platform shoes were in the traveler’s carry-on bag.

Instead of abandoning her flight, the woman abandoned the shoe and bracelet.

Farbstein reminded travelers, “Realistic replica firearms and ammunition are not permitted past TSA checkpoints.”

In 2015, the TSA found an average of seven firearms a day at airport checkpoints.

Other Stories of Interest