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Homeland Security Nominee Faces Tough Questions During Hearing

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Jeh Johnson is about to be in the crosshairs of combative Republican senators.

President Obama’s pick for Homeland Security secretary will soon face a confirmation hearing in which he’ll likely be grilled over his role in drone strikes, the National Journal reports.

Johnson also faces tough questions about immigration, terrorism and Guantanamo Bay.

“I have a long list of questions that have been sent to him,” he told National Journal. “So we are real early in the stage,” Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., told the National Journal.

Man Files Suit to Continue Parodying DHS, NSA on Mugs, T-Shirts

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Minnesota man who was selling parody T-shirts, mugs and other souvenirs featuring the logos of the NSA and DHS received a cease-and-desist order claiming the seals can’t be reproduced without permission.

That was two years ago.

On Tuesday, LibertyManiacs.com owner Dan McCall filed suit against the federal agencies, saying he has a constitutional right to express his opinions about the government and should be allowed to use the logos, Arstechnica.com reports.

“The agencies’ attempts to forbid McCall from displaying and selling his merchandise are inconsistent with the First Amendment,” his attorney, Paul Alan Levy, said in a statement. “It’s bad enough that these agencies have us under constant surveillance; forbidding citizens from criticizing them is beyond the pale.”

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST


New FBI Agents, Analysts Required to Visit MLK Monument in Washington

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

All new FBI agents and analysts must visit the monument for the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., new FBI Director James Comey said Monday, Reuters reports.

The idea, he said, is to remind people of the African American struggles for equality.

For similar reasons, new agents and analysts also are required to visit the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Both monuments are in Washington D.C.

“It will serve as a different kind of lesson – one more personal to the bureau – of the dangers of becoming untethered to oversight and accountability,” Comey said.

Obama Sings James Comey’s Praises During Welcoming Ceremony for New FBI Director

President Barack Obama and FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce, center, applaud FBI Director James Comey, left, during his installation ceremony at the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D.C., Oct. 28, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Obama officially welcomed James Comey to his new post as FBI director during a ceremony Monday at the J. Edgar Hoover Building.

The president applauded what he called Comey’s judgment and commitment, according to a White House blog.

“Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity: That’s your motto,” the President told the men and women of the FBI.  “And today, we’re here to welcome a remarkable new leader for this remarkable institution, one who lives those principles out every single day: Mr. Jim Comey.”

Obama said Comey was the best choice to head the FBI.

“It’s just about impossible to find a matter of justice he has not tackled, and it’s hard to imagine somebody who is not more uniquely qualified to lead a bureau that covers all of it — traditional threats like violent and organized crime to the constantly changing threats like terrorism and cyber-security,” he said.

Audit: FBI Makes Big Strides in Handling Confidential Informants

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The FBI is doing a better job handling confidential informants after a scathing report in 2006 criticized the agency’s dealings with sources, McLatchy reports.

Since the initial report, “the FBI has made substantial changes in its management of confidential human sources.”

Concerns were first raised in 2006 when it was discovered that confidential informant Katrina Leung had a longtime affair with her FBI handler.

Washington Times to Sue After Homeland Security Seizes Notes, Records from Reporter’s Home

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Washington Times is planning to sue the federal government after armed Homeland Security agents raided the home of a reporter and seized her notes, the newspaper reports.

Reporter Audrey Hudson is an award-winning reporter who has exposed problems in the Homeland Security Department’s Federal Air Marshals Service.

She said agents seized her private notes and records that she had obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Included in the notes are identities of her sources, the Times reported.

The Times plans to file a lawsuit, saying the federal government violated Hudson’s constitutional rights.

“While we appreciate law enforcement’s right to investigate legitimate concerns, there is no reason for agents to use an unrelated gun case to seize the First Amendment protected materials of a reporter,” Times Editor John Solomon said. “This violates the very premise of a free press, and it raises additional concerns when one of the seizing agencies was a frequent target of the reporter’s work.

FBI Director Comey Warns of Hundreds of Furloughs if Sequestration Continues

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director James Comey warned that he may have to furlough 600 employees if Congress doesn’t restore the bureau’s budget, the Houston Press reports.

Comey also said he’d be forced to cut 3,500 jobs.

The result could be disastrous, he said, because the bureau will have a more difficult time handling investigations.

The sequestration also is preventing the FBI from hiring anyone new.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Ex-Arizona Congressman Rick Renzi Gets 3 Years in Prison

Rep. Rick Renzi

 
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ex-Congressman Rick Renzi of Arizona was sentenced Monday in Tucson to three years in prison for extortion, bribery, insurance fraud, money laundering and racketeering.

His co-defendant, James Sandlin, was sentenced Monday to 18 months in prison for his role.

Renzi, 55, of Burke, Va., and Sandlin, 62, of Sherman, Texx. were convicted in June. Renzi was found guilty of 17 felony counts and Sandlin of 13.

“Mr. Renzi abused the power – and the corresponding trust – that comes with being a member of Congress by putting his own financial interests over the interests of the citizens he had sworn to serve,” Acting Assistant Attorney General  Mythili Raman said in a statement. “He fleeced his own insurance company to fund his run for Congress, and then exploited his position for personal gain. Mr. Renzi’s conviction and today’s sentence demonstrate the Justice Department’s commitment to fighting corruption at the highest levels of government.”

A Justice Department press release stated:

According to evidence at trial, Renzi, then a member of Congress from Arizona’s 1st Congressional District, promised in 2005 to use his legislative influence to profit from a federal land exchange that involved property owned by Sandlin, a real-estate investor.

At the time, Sandlin owed Renzi $700,000 in future payments from their business dealings, and Renzi threatened proponents of the land exchange that he would not support it unless they purchased Sandlin’s property in Cochise County, Ariz. When they refused, Renzi promised a second proponent of a land exchange that he would support the exchange if they purchased Sandlin’s property. According to an agreement reached in May 2005, Sandlin was paid $1 million in earnest money, out of which he paid $200,000 to Renzi. Just before Sandlin received the $1.6 million balance owed on the exchange, he paid an additional $533,000 to Renzi.

Evidence at trial further showed that from 2001 to 2003, Renzi engaged in insurance fraud by diverting his clients’ insurance premiums to fund his first campaign for Congress, and he subsequently sent false letters to his insurance customers and provided false statements to various state regulators who were investigating his activities.