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Judge Orders FBI to Release Records on Surveillance, Recruitment of Muslims

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A judge has ordered the FBI to release documents detailing its surveillance of Muslims and recruiting efforts in Northern California, The San Francisco Gate reports. 

U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg of San Francisco said the FBI must disclose previously redacted or omitted information about the programs used to conduct surveillance of Muslims without evidence of wrongdoing.

The FBI claimed that some of the information was “compiled for law enforcement purposes” and therefore are exempt from disclosure.

“Generalized monitoring and information-gathering are not sufficient justifications” to withhold information, Seeborg said.

“This decision upholds the public’s right to know about FBI activities that are not sensitive crime-fighting activities,” said ACLU attorney Julia Harumi Mass. “Communities in Northern California have a right to understand how they’re being spied upon by the government.”

The FBI declined to comment.

Video Shows Car Erupt in Flames After Border Patrol Agent Shoots Taser

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A newly released video shows a car exploding moments after a Border Patrol agent shoots a Taser at the driver in California, NBC San Diego reports. 

The driver, Alex Martin, died after the car erupted in flames.

His family claims in a federal lawsuit that the Taser caused the explosion.

His attorney said Martin was lost and traveling on the wrong side of a highway when Border Patrol agents in unmarked cars tried to stop him.

“These agents approached in unmarked cars, in plain clothes and never identified themselves by the display of badges or even the simple statement ‘Border Patrol,’” the attorney said.

Gabriel Pacheco, a lead Border Patrol union representative, said the agents followed procedures and would not have taken such drastic measures if the driver just stopped.

No. 2 Official at Homeland Security Accused of Helping Political Insiders

Alejandrom Mayorkas

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The second in command at Homeland Security is accused of intervening in cases that involve connections to political insiders “in unprecedented ways,” acceding to a report by the department’s watchdog.

The Office of Inspector General report said Alejandro Mayorkas created an “appearance of favoritism” while head of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services by giving special treatment in a program for wealthy foreigners to get visas, The Los Angeles Times reports.

Among those who benefited from Mayorkas’ interventions were Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and a brother of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The report tallied more than 15 people who blew the whistle on Mayorkas for allegedly giving special treatment to people with connections.

In a response to the report, Mayorkas defended his actions.

“I did so not because I wanted to but because I needed to,” Mayorkas wrote. “It was not easy or pleasant to hear complaints of how poorly our agency was performing … and how incompetent we were in the performance of some of our work.”

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said he maintains “full confidence” in Mayorkas.

DEA Seizes Far Fewer Marijuana Plants Under Obama Administration

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA continues to seize and destroy less marijuana under the Obama administration, the Washington Post reports.

Last year the DEA destroyed 4.3 million marijuana plants, compared to 10.4 million in 2009.

The “cannabis eradication program” provides money to local and state law enforcement agencies to destroy marijuana plants. But those funds have been drying up.

The Post wrote:

Marijuana eradication teams, who criss-cross the countryside in helicopters looking for grow sites, occasionally become overzealous in carrying out their missions. The Georgia Governor’s Task Force for Drug Suppression earned notoriety last year when they raided a retiree’s garden after misidentifying okra as marijuana. Last month, a member of DEA’s marijuana eradication team in Utah warned lawmakers there that a medical marijuana bill would lead inevitably to stoned rabbits in the state’s forests.

Other Stories of Interest


Defense for Marathon Bombing Suspects Grills FBI Special Agent about Evidence

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The trial for suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev continued Monday as defense attorneys grilled FBI Special Agent Kevin Swindon about his knowledge of computers and the evidence.

MassLive.com reports that attorney William Fick appeared to grow agitated as Swindon struggled to answer some of his questions.

Swindon was unable to answer some of the questions directly, frustrating Fick.

The testimony sheds some light on the defense’s strategy, which appears to be discrediting the evidence.

The evidence was collected from three computers.

The trial continues today.

Maryland Makes Big Pledge to FBI in Hopes of Luring New Headquarters

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com
 
Maryland is trying its best to lure the FBI’s headquarters to the state. 

The Washington Post reports that Maryland and Prince George County have pledged to commit hundreds of millions of dollars on road improvements if the FBI relocates from downtown Washington to Greenbelt or Landover.

Support has also come from the state’s congressional delegation.

Maryland is locked in a tight competition for the headquarters with Springfield in Fairfax County.

The headquarters will bring an estimated 11,000 FBI jobs.

Justice Department Investigating Milwaukee U.S. Attorney for Alleged Misuse of Credit Card

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

U.S. Attorney James Santelle is under investigation on accusations that he misused the government-assigned credit card and violated a law barring federal employees from some political activities, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

The Department of Justice is leading the investigation, which started more than a  year ago following a routine audit.

Investigators are trying to determine whether the credit card was used for non-official use, like food.

Santelle, who works in Milwaukee, declined to comment.

“I am not in a position to comment other than those matters are both with the Department of Justice,” he said Monday.

FBI’s Fabled Behavioral Analysis Unit to Investigate Hanging Death of Black Man

Otis Byrd

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI will use its Behavioral Analysis Unit to investigate the hanging death of Mississippi man Otis Byrd, the USA Today reports.

The unit  “focuses specifically on criminal human behavior in an attempt to better understand criminals — who they are, how they think, why they do what they do — as a means to help solve crimes,” according to FBI.gov.

The hope is that the unit will help determine whether Byrd, 54, committed suicide or was murdered.

He was found hanging from a tree by a bed sheet near his last known residence last week.