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Stejskal: Mississippi Burning 50 Years Later

Greg Stejskal served as an FBI agent for 31 years and retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office.
By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com
 
The 60s were a tumultuous decade, and 1964 was emblematic of that decade. Arthur Ashe won the US Open, and Martin Luther King, Jr. was awarded the Nobel Prize for peace. The Beatles came to America and established a beachhead for the “British invasion.” Lyndon Johnson, a Southern Democrat, having become President when John Kennedy was assassinated in November of 1963, showed great political courage and legislative acumen by getting landmark civil rights laws passed in Congress.

On June 19th the US Senate passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Two days later the need for that legislation became clear when three civil rights workers disappeared under suspicious circumstances in Mississippi. Two of the workers were white and from the north, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman. The third, James Chaney, was black and from Mississippi.

In the heady days of the spring of ’64 with the civil rights bills moving through Congress, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) announced an initiative, the Mississippi Summer Project. It was to participate in this project that Schwerner and Goodman had traveled to Mississippi. There, they joined-up with Chaney and other local civil rights workers.

There were those in Mississippi who were dead set (literally) against the civil rights initiatives or any of the changes to the status quo that were portended by the civil rights legislation. Foremost in this opposition were the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of Mississippi.

The following is a rendition of events based on the testimony at the 1967 federal trial, US v. Price; et al:

In May of 1964, Sam Bowers, Imperial Wizard of the Mississippi KKK sent word to his fellow klansmen, it was time to activate “Plan 4” – the “elimination” of Michael Schwerner. Schwerner had drawn the enmity of the Klan because he had organized a black boycott of a white-owned business and had aggressively been trying to register blacks to vote. The Klan referred to Schwerner as “Jew-boy” and “Goatee.”

Read more »

FBI Confirms Sightings of Masterpieces Stolen from Boston Art Museum in 1990

The Concert (c. 1658–1660) by Vermeer

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Two men disguised as police officers stole $500 million worth of artwork from a Boston museum in 1990.

Now the FBI has confirmed recent sightings of the work that was taken from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston.com reports.

The art included work by Rembrandt, Vermeer and Manet.

FBI Special Agent Geoff Kelly, who is in charge of the theft, identified three persons of interest, all of whom have ties to organized crime: Carmello Merlino, Robert Guarente, and Robert Gentile.

Gentile, who is the only one of trio still alive, said he knows nothing of the missing artwork.

FBI Director Comey Criticized for Suggesting the Bureau May Relax Marijuana Policy for Job Applicants

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director James Comey has come under fire for suggesting this week that he wants to relax the bureau’s drug policies to hire the best and brightest hackers.

“I have to hire a great workforce to compete with those cyber-criminals, and some of those kids want to smoke weed on the way to the interview,” Comey said, urging an audience member to tell his stoner friend to still fill out an application.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., wasn’t pleased and confronted Comey, who responded that he was trying to be lighthearted.

“I am determined not to lose my sense humor,” Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Unfortunately, there I was trying to be both serious and funny.”

Sessions said Comey’s earlier statement “could be interpreted as one more example of leadership in America dismissing the seriousness of marijuana use.”

AG Holder: New Recording Policy Intended to Protect Suspects and Federal Law Enforcement

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A new policy to require federal agents to electronically record statements while suspects are in custody is intended to protect both suspects and law enforcement, Attorney General Eric Holder said in a video posted by the Justice Department Thursday.

“Federal agents and prosecutors throughout the nation are firmly committed to due process in their rigorous and evenhanded enforcement of the law,” Holder said. “This new recording policy not only reaffirms our steadfast commitment to these ideals – it will provide verifiable evidence that our words are matched by our deeds. And it will help to strengthen the robust and fair system of justice upon which all Americans depend — and which every American deserves.”

The policy, which has exceptions and goes into effect July 11, applies to the FBI, ATF, DEA and U.S. Marshals Services.

The new policy “will ensure that we have an objective account of key investigations and interactions with people who are held in federal custody” and “allow us to document that detained individuals are afforded their constitutionally protected rights,” Holder said.

New York Congressman Under Federal Indictment Kept His FBI Alias And Phone After Leaving Bureau

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Embattled U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm, who is under federal indictment, retained his alter ego – Mikey Suits – from when he was working undercover for the FBI.

While prosecutors were seeking a court order to track the Staten Island Republican’s cell phone, they discovered that Grimm kept a cell phone registered to “Michael Garibaldi of Centurian Consulting,”  the New York Daily News reports.

Grimm even used the number as his primary phone up until at least last year.

Grimm is accused of tax evasion and employing undocumented immigrants at his health food restaurant in New York.

His FBI alias is more than six years old, when he was portraying a shady Wall Street trader with spiffy suits.

Secret Service Was Tense As President Decided to Take Leisurely Stroll in Downtown Washington

Secret Service photo

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

What seemed like a leisurely stroll outside of the secured confines of the White House for President Obama was anything but leisurely for the Secret Service who is responsible for protecting the president.

The Washington Post reports that Obama surprised many by leaving his usual bubble to greet people on the streets of downtown Washington D.C.

Obama’s stroll was not as structured as the Secret Service would have preferred, so agents were tense when groups of people approached the president, according to the Post.

“Any time the president leaves the White House complex there are risks involved,” Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said, adding that the Secret Service uses its knowledge to mitigate those risks. “Off the record movements can be used to our advantage since there is an element of surprise. If something a protected [person] does is not on the schedule then presumably someone wishing to disrupt an event or do them harm is unaware of it as well.”

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Republican Congressman Accuses Obama Administration of ‘Nixonian’ Attempt to Control DEA Chief

Michele Leonhart/dea photo

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart has come under fire recently for being out of sync with the Obama administration over drug policies and sentencing requirements.

Now Rep. Frank Wolf, a Virginia Republican, is coming to Leonhart’s defense, saying the Obama administration should butt out following news that Attorney General Eric Holder spoke with the DEA chief about her critical comments about the president’s sentencing reforms, the Huffington Post reports.

What Wolf doesn’t say is that Leonhart is a politically appointed position.

“Having served in the Nixon Administration, I am well aware of how the political leadership of an administration can try to politicize the civil service, including law enforcement,” Wolf wrote. “This article suggests a similar ‘Nixonian’ effort to pressure a career law enforcement leader into changing her congressional testimony and public comments to fit the narrative of the administration. I am deeply concerned and hope you will correct the record if the information reported was inaccurate.”

FBI Agent Who Shot Todashev in Florida Is Subject of Probe Over His Annual Police Pension

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI agent who fatally shot a friend of one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects in his Florida apartment is the subject of an investigation over a $52,000 pension that he’s receiving as a retired police officer from Oakland, California.

The Boston Globe reports that Aaron McFarlane has been receiving the pension since he was 31 years old in 2004.

What’s bizarre about his pension is that he began collecting it for medical reasons, yet he managed to pass the rigorous physical requirements of the FBI when he landed the job in 2008.

The city of Oakland is investigating.