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President Obama Chooses New Head of DOJ’s Civil Rights Division

Vanita Gupta

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A top lawyer for the ACLU is President Obama’s choice to head the civil rights division of the Justice Department, a position that has been without a permanent leaders for more than a year, the Washington Post reports.

Vanita Gupta, 39,will become the acting head of the division Wednesday.

A longtime civil rights lawyer, Gupta brings a lot of experience with her. She is the deputy legal director for the ACLU.

The Post reports that Obama plans to nominate Gupta to be the permanent assistant attorney general for civil rights.

It’s an important position that oversees voting and civil rights investigations.

Born in the Philadelphia area to immigrant parents, Gupta has been lauded for her civil rights work, especially on prison reform, the Post wrote.

Veteran FBI Agent with Doctorate in Physical Chemistry to Take Over San Diego Field Office

Eric S. Birnbaum

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI agent Eric S. Birnbaum, a 26-year-veteran of the bureau, will take over San Diego’s field office.

The Times of San Diego reports that Birnbaum has been named to succeed Daphne Hearn, who retired in August.

Birnbaum has a bachelor’s degree in math from Miami University in Ohio and a doctorate in physical chemistry from Stanford University in Palo Alto.

Since beginning his FBI career in 1988, Birnbaum has worked in the FBI Laboratory, the Inspection Division and the field offices in Washington, San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Birnbaum supervised a white-collar squad in San Diego.

Massachusetts Man Who Is On FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist List May Be Helping ISIS in Syria

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Massachusetts man who is on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist List is believed to be in Syria and may be employing computer science skills he learned in his American education to assistant ISIS, WCVB.com reports.

“Here is a guy that went to terrorist training camps, that expressed his desire to go and fight in Iraq against US troops. That’s somebody that needs to face justice,” said Vincent Lisi, the special-agent-in-charge of the Boston office of the FBI.

Three years before he was indicted, Ahmad Abousamra fled the country.

Authorities have few hints on his exact whereabouts and the extent to which he is assisting extremists.

Justice Department Puts End to Waivers That Prevented Defendants from Appealing

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department has ended the controversial practice of asking defendants who plead guilty to waive their appellate rights over bad legal advice, CNN reports.

In a memo issued Tuesday, the Justice Department said it will ban the waivers that are still used in 35 U.S. attorney offices.

The waivers are controversial because make it difficult for defendants to have due process.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced the new policy.

The Justice Department said the waivers were used to discourage frivolous lawsuits.

Homeland Security Chief: Fewer Immigrants Crossing Border But Threat of Terrorism Exists

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said fewer immigrants are crossing the border because of increased security efforts, but he emphasized that other threats require a strong law enforcement presence, the Arizona Capitol Times reports.

The good news is that illegal immigration is falling.

“Put simply, it’s now much harder to cross our border and evade capture than it used to be, and people know that,” he said.

But Johnson warned about getting complacent because of the dangers involving homegrown extremists.

“People who leave their own country … link up with some extreme elements and then return to this country,” Johnson said of Westerners who join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a militant Islamist army currently waging war in those countries.

“In many respects, that’s the terrorist threat that I worry most about because it’s the hardest to detect,” he said.

Georgia Man Accused of Shooting ATF Agent Is Indicted by Grand Jury

Steven Maurice "Stevo" McKinley

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An Athens. Ga.  man accused of shooting an ATF agent last month was indicted Tuesday by a grand jury, Online Athens reports.

The suspect, 21-year-old Steven Maurice “Stevo” McKinley, is suspected of shooting the agent during a Sept. 30 undercover operation at the Airport Mini Mart.

While planning to purchase narcotics and firearms, McKinley was attacked by a second suspect, whom the agent shot and killed.

McKinley is charged with taking the agent’s gun and shooting him in the shoulder.

The agent survived, and McKinley is charged with one cough of attempting to kill a federal officer and discharge and use of a firearm during a federal crime of violence.

Other Stories of Interest

Assistant Attorney General John Carlin Shares Insight Into War On Terrorism

FBI Director Comey: New iPhone Encryption Shields Criminals from Investigators

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Apple’s privacy features on the new iPhone and iPad protect pedophiles, terrorists and other criminals because investigators can’t access the information, FBI Director James Comey said.

The new encryption scrambles information as it travels through Apple services.

Comey isn’t happy about that.

“The notion that people have devices… that with court orders, based on a showing of probable cause in a case involving kidnapping or child exploitation or terrorism, we could never open that phone? My sense is that we’ve gone too far when we’ve gone there,” Comey said in an interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

Comey compared the iPhones to “cars with trunks that couldn’t ever be opened by law enforcement with a court order.”