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FBI Employee Tests Positive for Coronavirus; Bureau Prepares for Possible Pandemic

SARS-CoV-2 is the cause of the coronavirus, via Wikipedia.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The coronavirus has infected an FBI employee from the San Francisco Division.

In a statement, the FBI said the employee works at a small satellite office, and his coworkers have returned home.

The FBI statement:

An employee of the FBI San Francisco Division has been diagnosed with COVID-19 (coronavirus). This employee works in a small satellite office. The other employees at the site have returned to their homes until further notice, and everyone known to have been in contact with the infected employee has been notified of possible exposure.
The FBI has contacted local health officials as well as the Centers for Disease Control and the Bureau will take all necessary remedial and precautionary measures to protect our employees, their families and our community.
At this time, we assess our operations have not been negatively impacted by COVID-19 and we will continue steadfast in our mission to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution.

The FBI also has ordered $40,000 worth of face masks and hand sanitizers in the event of a pandemic, CNBC reports.

The masks and disinfectants “are to be stored throughout the country for distribution in the event of a declared pandemic,” according to the bureau’s purchase order.

Weekend Series on Crime History: An Undercover DEA Agent

TSA Officers Would Receive Expanded Protections Under Passed House Bill

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

TSA officers would receive expanded protections like other federal employees under a bill passed by the U.S. House on Thursday.

The Rights for Transportation Security Officers Act, which passed on a 230-171 vote, would give full collective bargaining rights and whistleblower protections to TSA workers, who are among the lowest paid federal employees, The Hill reports.

Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Pa., said when the TSA was established following Sept. 11, 2001, “its administrator was given broad authority over its workforce with respect to setting up pay and workplace conditions. As such, transportation security officers, T.S.O.’s, have been unable to benefit from fair labor standards act protections or fall under the general schedule pay scale.”

But opponents of the bill said the additional protections would compromise public safety.

“TSA has repeatedly told us that [these changes] would tie the agency’s hands related to national security policy, workforce management, and collective bargaining,” Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., said on the floor. “Specifically, TSA would not be able to continue a one-step removal process for employees found to have committed serious security breaches or misconduct such as allowing unauthorized access to secure areas or allowing threat items and illicit contraband through the security checkpoints.”

Judge Orders Review of Barr’s Report, Criticizes AG’s ‘Lack of Candor’

President Trump and AG William Barr, via DOJ.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A federal judge ordered the Justice Department to turn over an unredacted copy of the Mueller report after sharply rebuking Attorney General William Barr’s “lack of candor” in his handling of the special counsel report.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton said Barr issued a “distorted” and “misleading” account of the report’s findings, The New York Times and other media reported.

Walton bluntly said Barr couldn’t be trusted because of “inconsistencies” between his public statements about the report and the public, partially redacted version of it.

The judge plans to review the unredacted report to determine the justification for the information that was blacked out.

The inconsistencies “cause the court to seriously question whether Attorney General Barr made a calculated attempt to influence public discourse about the Mueller report in favor of President Trump despite certain findings in the redacted version of the Mueller report to the contrary,” wrote Walton, an appointee of President George W. Bush.

The judge’s decision came as part of a lawsuit filed by EPIC, a watchdog group, and BuzzFeed News.

The judge’s criticism of Barr is just the latest rebuke of an attorney general who has been accused of politicizing the attorney general’s office.

AG Barr Chooses Will Levi As New Chief of Staff

Attorney General William Barr, via DOJ.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Attorney General William Barr has chosen a new chief of staff, two Justice Department officials tell Politico.

Will Levi, who has been one of Barr’s seven counselors, has been tapped for the role and will replace Brian Rabbitt, who is resuming a senior role in the department’s criminal division.

Levi will be responsible for day-to-day affairs in the Justice Department and undoubtedly will work closely with Barr, who has been accused of politicizing the attorney general’s office.

Levi’s father and grandfather both worked for the Justice Department.

DOJ Watchdog Criticizes FBI’s Handling of U.S.-Based Violent Extremists

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department’s inspector general criticized the FBI’s handling of U.S.-based extremists who successfully carried out attacks against Americans after the bureau investigated them.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report identified homegrown violent extremists (HVE) who continued to act violently after the FBI prematurely closed their cases.

“Since September 11, 2001, HVEs have carried out over 20 attacks in the United States, some of which occurred after the FBI closed a counterterrorism investigation or assessment on the individual,” the report said.

The report identified “at least six attacks committed in the United States by individuals who the FBI had previously assessed or investigated” between 2009 and 2017. They include the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the 2016 Orland Pulse Nightclub attack.

The report encourages the FBI to improve its handling of tips about potentially violent people and develop a more comprehensive plan to determine the risks of individuals with mental health problems.

Lifelong Republican Comey Endorses Biden, Then Mocked by Campaign

Former FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Former FBI Director James Comey, who was fired by President Trump, said he voted in his first Democratic primary election on Tuesday and endorsed Joe Biden.

“Voted in first Dem primary to support party dedicated to restoring values in WH,” the lifelong Republican tweeted. “I agree with @amyklobuchar: We need candidate who cares about all Americans and will restore decency, dignity to the office. There is a reason Trump fears @joebiden and roots for Bernie. #Biden2020.”

Biden’s campaign had an odd response to the endorsement. Andrew Bates, the rapid response director for Biden’s presidential campaign, appeared to mock Comey’s support on Twitter.

“Yes, customer service? I just received a package that I very much did not order. How can I return it, free of charge?” Bates tweeted Tuesday afternoon.

Two hours later, Bates insisted he was joking.

“I forgot the #1 rule of politics, which is that if you talk about anyone or anything related to 2016, common sense goes out the window. It was meant to be a lighthearted joke – not a rejection,” Bates tweeted. “We appreciate the vote of anyone repelled by Donald Trump.”

Homeland Security Closes Washington State Facility over Coronavirus Fears

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Department of Homeland Security temporarily closed one of its facilities in Washington state and directed employees to self-quarantine for two weeks after one of its employees visited a nursing home impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

The 14-day closure of a Citizenship and Immigration Services field office in Seattle was made “out of an abundance of caution,” Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf told the House Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday, CNN reports.

Before an outbreak was reported at the Life Care Facility in Kirkland, Wash., Wolf said an employe visited a family member there. Four deaths from the coronavirus are tied to the nursing home and rehabilitation facility.

“I am pleased to report that this employee embodied what it means to lead by example,” Wolf said. “The employee and their family took every precaution and followed the guidance of public health officials. They stayed home from work when they felt ill, the family self-quarantined, and reported the exposure and their condition to their employers and other officials.”

The employee went to work before exhibiting “flu-like symptoms four days after visiting the nursing home,” Acting Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli wrote in a series of tweets Tuesday morning.

Cuccinelli said the department “takes the safety & health of our employees & applicants seriously.”

“We’re following CDC’s guidelines & encourage all employees and applicants to stay home if they are feeling ill or exhibiting any flu-like symptoms,” Cuccinelli wrote.

Homeland Security employees are being asked to “telework.”