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Tag: Congress

Experts: Secret Service Could Benefit from Hiring Director from Outside Agency

Secret Service photo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Some members of Congress and other experts believe the next director of the Secret Service should come from outside because much of the agency’s problems are its insular culture, the USA Today reports.

If the White House taps someone with no ties to the agency, it will be the first time an outside leader has taken over the Secret Service.

“If you are going to change the culture, you’re going to have to bring someone from the outside. That has to happen,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, a member of the House panel that has been reviewing agency operations.

Four panelists are currently reviewing the agency’s operations with the goal of completing the study by Dec. 15. Part of the tasks of the panelists is to submit potential candidates for the director position.

‘”I have full confidence that these distinguished individuals will conduct a fair, thorough and unbiased assessment,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said.

NYPD’s Use of ‘Broken Windows’ Crime-Fighting Strategy Comes Under Fire

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

 The Justice Department is mulling whether to investigate NYPD’s use of the controversial crime fighting strategy known as “broken windows,” the New York Daily News reports.

The Justice Department Civil Rights Division is considering a request from six members of Congress to investigate whether black people and Hispanics are disproportionately affected by quality-of-life violations.

“When a systemic pattern or practice of misconduct is determined to exist, we have the authority to initiate civil action against state or local officials to remedy the misconduct,” wrote Justice Department Assistant Attorney General Peter J. Kadzik.

The Congress members said plenty of evidence exists against the NYPD.

“It’s now our job to convince the Department of Justice that the evidence exists to open a pattern and practice investigation,” said Congressman Hakeem Jeffries. “The police department in New York City is out of control right now. It seems as though every day a new video surfaces of an officer brutalizing someone in the black and Latino community.”

 

Has ISIS Militants Crossed Border into Texas? Congressman Says So

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

 

A California Congressman is claiming ISIS fighters trying to get into the U.S. were busted at the Texas border with Mexico, Fox News reports.

“ISIS is coming across the southern border,” said  Rep. Duncan Hunter, whose district includes much of San Diego. “They aren’t flying B-1 Bombers bombing American cities, but they are going to be bombing American cities coming across from Mexico.

“At least 10 ISIS fighters have been caught coming across the Mexican border in Texas,” Hunter continued. “There’s nobody taking about it.”

The information has not been independent verified by the Border Patrol, which is where Hunter said he received the information.

“They caught them at the border,” Hunter said. “Therefore, we know ISIS is coming across the border. If they catch five or 10 of them you know there are going to be dozens more that did not get caught by the Border Patrol.”

 

Congressional Watchdogs Consider Removing Secret Service from Homeland Security Department

secret service photo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Hoping to address low morale and security blunders at the Secret Service, some congressional watchdogs are proposing to limit the agency’s role of protecting the president, Time reports.

Perhaps most important, the proposal includes removing Secret Service from the Department of Homeland Security, which has struggled as a giant bureaucracy.

“Long-term, the 60,000 foot view, there are some who are very critical of the switch that the Secret Service went through after 9/11,” says Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a top member of the House Oversight Committee. “That seems to have changed the dynamic and made it much more political as opposed to security-driven. And I think long-term that’s something we might explore is the structure of having it within Homeland Security.”

The discussions come after the resignation of Director Julia Pierson and the release of a study that showed Homeland Security employees had the lowest morale of all 19 large agencies surveyed.

“I think the counterfeiting role really probably belongs in Treasury,” says Connolly. “The protection and investigation role I think might make sense in DHS but I do think we have to have a thorough review about the missions and whether they continue to make sense. Are they compatible? Do they detract from one another?”

More mild reforms call for increasing funding and the number of employees.

“I don’t know if moving it out of DHS [would work],” says Mickey Nelson, a 28 year-veteran of the Secret Service who retired in 2012. “Then where would you move it, logically speaking? But I think that should be part of the review.”

Next Secret Service Director Will Face Herculean Task to Raise Morale, Improve Protection

Secret Service photo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Whoever takes over the embattled Secret Service will face an insurmountable task.

They must handle plunging morale, a tarnished reputation, budget holes and plenty of blunders that led to the resignation of Director Julia Pierson, the Wall Street Journal reports.

How disgruntled are employees? A 2013 survey found that Secret Service agents had the lowest employee job satisfaction in a decade.

And now there are elected officials who want to change how the Secret Service operates.

“Long term, we must consider restructuring the Secret Service’s mission,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the Utah Republican who has emerged as one of the agency’s most vocal critics in recent days.

From 2010 to 2014, the number of people who protect the president and others fell from 3,800 to 3,533.

Now Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is considering appointing an outsider to operate the Secret Service.

The problems are numerous, said Jon Adler, the president of Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, a group whose members include Secret Service agents.

“You don’t have the current training, you have an overworked, tired overextended workforce and it’s going to factor into response time,” he said. “If the agency is properly funded, properly staffed and properly trained, those things in conjunction with the right protocols, then the system works,” he added.

Secret Service Director Takes Full Responsibility, Pledges Wholesale Changes

Julia Pierson

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson accepted full responsibility for the recent White House intrusion and pledged to improve security at a House Oversight Committee hearing Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Pierson divulged that Omar J. Gonzalez, who was armed with a knife, made it deeper into the White House on Sept. 19 than previously thought.

Pierson said Gonzalez was able to make it so far because the White House had two open front doors that don’t automatically lock and a muted alarm system. Secret Service officers also decided to subdue the intruder instead of shoot him.

“Eight hundred million dollars a year…during your tenure…and that door was unlocked,” said Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), referring to the Secret Service’s personnel budget.

“The door was unlocked at the time of Mr. Gonzalez’s entry, that’s correct,” Ms. Pierson said, adding that automatic locks have since been installed on the White House front doors.

“The fence failed, officers chased him, didn’t catch him, sniper was in position, no shots were fired, dogs were out there, weren’t released, countersurveillance, I’m understanding, is understaffed…nobody shot anything,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah) said.

“It’s clear that our security plan was not properly executed,” Ms. Pierson said. “This is unacceptable and I take full responsibility. And I will make sure that it does not happen again.”

Elected officials said the meeting fueled concerns that the White House is vulnerable.

Republicans Accuse a Top DEA Official of Intimidation in Complaint to Inspector General

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Did one of the top leaders of the DEA intimidate members of Congress while discussing a prescription drug bill?

That’s the claim by two Republicans – Reps. Marsha Blackburn, Tenn., and Tom Marino, Pa. – who say in a letter to the Justice Department’s inspector general that DEA Deputy Assistant Administrator Joe Rannazzisi accused them and their staff of “supporting criminals,” the Washington Post reports.

The Republicans want the inspector general to determine whether Rannazzisi’s “baseless accusations constitute serious misconduct by a Department official.”

“We believe an accusation of this nature from a DOJ official is totally unacceptable and does in fact constitute serious misconduct,” Blackburn and Marino wrote. “We have no other choice but to conclude that his statement was an effort to attempt to intimidate the United States Congress.”

The issue was over a bill that would offer a second chance for pharmaceutical distributors who violate federal regulations.

The DNA did not return the Posts’s request for a comment.

Other Stories of Interest


Employees: Byzantine Oversight of Homeland Security is Crushing Morale, Hindering Work

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Homeland Security has so much congressional oversight that it’s damaging morale and making the work more difficult, the Washington Post reports.

Consider the number of committees and subcommittees that oversee DHS – more than 90, which exceeds the number that has jurisdiction over the Defense Department by nearly three fold.

“It makes no sense at all,” said Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), a homeland security committee member, who attributed the structure to a “petty fight for power” between committees reluctant to give up their piece of DHS.

When the department was created in 2002, 22 autonomous federal agencies were combined.

“It makes it very difficult for the department,’’ said King, who sees “no movement” in Congress to change the situation. “The amount of time that goes into preparing for a congressional hearing is immense. It’s like this hydra-headed monster they have to deal with.’’