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FBI Arrests 4 People Tied to Neo-Nazi Group Atomwaffen Division

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI has arrested four people with ties to the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division on charges of plotting to intimidate and harass journalists, activists and others, including then-Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

The charges are part of a crackdown on violent white supremacists who have become emboldened by President Trump’s divisive rhetoric.

“These defendants from across the country allegedly conspired on the internet to intimidate journalists and activists with whom they disagreed,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said in a news release. “This is not how America works. The Department of Justice will not tolerate this type of behavior.”

The suspects are accused of conspiring to harass journalists and activists by delivering or mailing posters with swastikas, guns and Molotov cocktails to the journalists and activists.

“These defendants sought to spread fear and terror with threats delivered to the doorstep of those who are critical of their activities,” U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran for the Western District of Washington said.  “As Attorney General William Barr has made clear, rooting out anti-Semitic hate and threats of violence and vigorously prosecuting those responsible are top priorities for the Department of Justice.”

The suspects are Cameron Brandon Shea, 24, of Redmond, Wash.; Kaleb Cole, 24, of Montgomery, Texas; Taylor Ashley Parker-Dipeppe, 20, of Spring Hill, Fla., and Johnny Roman Garza, 20, of Queen Creek, Ariz.

“Today’s announcement serves as a warning to anyone who intends to use violence as intimidation or coercion to further their ideology that the FBI remains steadfast in our commitment to protect Americans from domestic terrorism,” Assistant Director for Counterterrorism Jill Sanborn said.  “These nationwide arrests are the result of the robust partnerships among the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces in Tampa, Seattle, Houston, and Phoenix and we appreciate their collective efforts.”

Trump’s Administration Imposes Temporary Ban on TSA Hiring and OT After Budget Cuts

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s administration has imposed a temporary ban on hiring at the TSA for the second time in recent months.

The moratorium on TSA hires is expected to be lifted in late April in time for the busy travel season this summer, KUER Radio in Utah reports.

The administration also placed a temporary hold on overtime.

“In anticipation of another record-breaking summer travel season, the Transportation Security Administration is managing resources by prioritizing overtime to the busiest of travel periods,” the TSA said in a statement. “Additionally, TSA will continue to assess applicants for entry into TSA, and will conduct two extended hiring windows to coincide with the busy summer travel season.”

The Trump administration reduced the agency’s $8.2 billion budget by $10.5 million in 2021.

Hydrick Thomas, who heads the union that represents TSA employees, said the hiring and overtime freeze is going to cause a headache.

“You always have overtime — no matter how much staff you hire. This agency has large turnover every month,” he said. “What are you going to do when you have no staff to process passengers?”

Supreme Court: Mexican Family Cannot Sue Border Patrol Agent Who Killed Teenager in Cross-Border Shooting

Border marker at San Ysidro Port of Entry, via Border Patrol.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The family of a Mexican teenager killed in a cross-border shooting a decade ago cannot sue the U.S. Border Patrol agent who fired the fatal shot from American soil, a deeply divided Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

In a 5-4 ruling, the court upheld a lower court’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the parents of 15-year-old Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca, who was fatally shot in 2010 by Border Patrol Agent Jesus Mesa Jr.

The teenager was on the Mexican side of the border when he was shot.

The central question: When Mexican teenagers are shot on the Mexican side of the border, can American families sue in U.S. courts?

The family of Guereca said the teenager was playing a game with friends when he was shot in the head by Mesa.

Mesa said he pulled the trigger because he was under attack by rock throwers.

The Supreme Court took the case in February 2017 but sent it back to a lower court for more proceedings.

At the time, the Trump administration argued the right to sue in U.S. courts “should not be extended to aliens injured abroad.”

The court’s decision will make it more difficult for foreign nationals to sue federal officers for civil rights violations.

“A cross-border shooting claim has foreign relations and national security implications,” Associate Justice Samuel Alito wrote, The USA Today reports. “In addition, Congress has been notably hesitant to create claims based on allegedly tortious conduct abroad.”

Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg disagreed because the shooting occurred on the U.S. side of the border.

“Neither U.S. foreign policy nor national security is in fact endangered by the litigation,” Ginsburg wrote. “Moreover, concerns attending the application of our law to conduct occurring abroad are not involved, for plaintiffs seek the application of U.S. law to conduct occurring inside our borders.”

John Brown Named Executive Assistant Director of FBI’s National Security Branch

Current FBI headquarters, via FBI

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

John Brown has been named executive assistant director (EAD) of the National Security Branch at FBI headquarters in Washington D.C.

Brown’s responsibility is to ensure the FBI can defend the U.S. and its interests from national security threats.

Most recently, Brown served as the assistant director of the Counterintelligence Division at FBI headquarters.

Brown’s career with the FBI began in 1999, when he served as a special agent assigned to the Chicago Field Office, where he primarily worked counterintelligence investigations.

In 2004, he was part of an FBI team working counterterrorism operations with the Department of Defense in Iraq.

In 2005, Brown returned to FBI headquarters as a supervisory special agent in the Counterterrorism Division and later became unit chief, overseeing international terrorism investigations. He also led the creation of the bureau’s first unit dedicated to investigating terrorists using the Internet.

In 2008, Brown moved to the Chicago Field Office to supervise a counterterrorism squad.

From 2010 to 2011, Brown served with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan before returning to Chicago.

A year later, Brown was promoted to section chief in the Cyber Division at FBI headquarters in 2012 and returned to the Chicago office in 2014 to lead a social media cyber squad. Brown was later named assistant special agent in charge of Chicago’s cyber and counterintelligence operations.

In 2016, Brown was promoted to special agent in charge of the Administrative Branch of the Los Angeles Field Office. In 2018, Brown began serving as the special agent in charge of the San Diego Field Office.

Before joining the FBI, Mr. Brown served in the U.S. Army as an air defense and military intelligence officer.

Comey Acknowledges His Decisions During 2016 Presidential Election ‘Hurt the FBI’

James Comey via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Former FBI Director James Comey acknowledged his handling of investigations into presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in 2016 “hurt the FBI,” but defended his tenure.

Speaking at a Harvard Institute of Politics forum Monday night, Comey spoke frankly about the dilemma he faced, saying he tried to make the best decisions in a difficult time.

“Decisions that I made hurt the FBI — and that’s important,” Comey said, The Harvard Crimson wrote. “I still believe if I had chosen the other door, I would’ve hurt the FBI worse. But there’s no doubt, I knew we were spending the FBI’s credibility.”

Many political observers criticized Comey for publicly announcing the FBI had reopened an investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server less than two weeks before the election. Clinton also said Comey’s announcement contributed to her loss.

When asked by an audience member if he would apologize to Clinton, Comey said he wouldn’t.

“If you really understand the position we were in — that I was in — on October 28, you walk away saying, ‘Oh my god, that was a very hard decision,’” Comey said. “So I’d want her to understand that.”

FBI Investigating Disappearance of $500,000+ from National Border Patrol Council Funds

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI is trying to determine what happened to more than $500,000 that is missing from the union that represents about 20,000 Border Patrol agents.

Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, told ProPublica that the FBI’s investigation is targeting an apparent embezzlement scheme involving the bank accounts of the union’s El Paso branch, where money went missing in recent years.

“We know the FBI is looking at it,” Judd said.

In November, Judd notified agents in El Paso that money was missing. In a recording of that meeting, Judd said that the union hired forensic auditors, who found “$352,389.31 that was misappropriated. They also found that there was another $150,035.65 that was not properly paid to the IRS in tax money. Somebody pocketed it, just up and walked away.”

Judd told agents, “We expect there will be indictments.”

The FBI did not comment on the investigation.

Column: Ex-Fed Prosecutor — Nuclear Meltdown Gripping Justice Department

Michael J. Stern, a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors, was a federal prosecutor for 25 years in Detroit and Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter: @MichaelJStern1

Attorney General William Barr on ABC News.

By Michael J. Stern
USA Today

“The Real Housewives” have nothing on the Department of Justice when it comes to drama. I don’t mean to be flippant. But if I can’t marvel at the absurdity of the nuclear meltdown that is gripping the institution to which I dedicated my professional career, I’m afraid I will cry.

I was concerned when the punchline “Donald Trump” came to be preceded by the title “president.” But my beloved DOJ was filled with career prosecutors whose dedication and integrity would keep the ship on course — even if the storm lasted four years.

I was confident that the traditions that made the Justice Department the most respected law enforcement organization in the world would surely allow it to weather any attorney general Trump could install.

But Trump has commandeered the department and sent a clear message: “Investigate me or people close to me and I will undercut years of your hard work, trash your reputation on Twitter, and create a Hobson’s choice between your integrity and your ability to earn a living. And if you pick the former, I will issue a pardon and undo all you worked for anyway.”

Read the full column

Ex-DEA Agent and Wife Charged With Laundering Colombian Drug Money

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ex-DEA agent Jose I. Irizarry has been charged with working with Colombian drug dealers to launder money seized from undercover drug operations, the Justice Department announced Friday. He allegedly used the cash to buy a Tiffany diamond ring, a $135,000 Land Rover and a home in Cartagena.

The 19-indictment unsealed in Tampa, Fla., also named his wife Nathalia Gomez-Irizarry (Gomez), 36.

Authorities charged the scheme involved diverting money from undercover money laundering investigations into bank accounts the couple controlled along with family members and criminal associates.

Authorities allege that Irizarry was in personal bankruptcy proceedings for nearly the duration of this criminal conduct and failed to disclose any of his illicit income to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Irizarry is charged with conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, honest services wire fraud, bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, conspiracy to commit identity theft and aggravated identity theft.  Gomez is charged with conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.