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Tag: FOIA

Questions Raised about Discipline for High-Ranking U.S. Marshals Allegedly Caught in At-Work Rendezvous

By Steve Neavling

Two high-ranking officials with the U.S. Marshals Service are accused of having sex at the agency’s Virginia headquarters, and a nonprofit that advocates on behalf of federal employees wants more information on the alleged tryst.  

The Federal Managers Association is exploring how the “senior” officials were disciplined compared to rank-and-file employees, The New York Post reports.

The group sought more details of the alleged rendezvous in a Freedom of Information Act request. 

“The more specific recent activity we seek documentation on involves serious allegations of sexual misconduct by two agency employees within the senior ranks, purportedly at the Agency’s headquarters complex (i.e. in taxpayer funded office space), that may have occurred on official time,” states the letter, referring to the Marshals headquarters in Arlington, Va.

In the request, FMA wrote that employees are concerned about the “evenhandedness” of discipline. 

“A high number of managers across the workforce have raised as a concern the evenhandedness with which the Agency applies discipline between executives and rank and file. This particular case is being cited as an example where it may not be occurring,” FMA wrote in the Sept. 28 request.

The at-work tryst allegedly occurred in June or July. The officials are not identified. 

One of the officials was granted “extended special leave.”

“We are most interested in understanding if the approval pre-dated the employee’s alleged sexual activity with who we understand to be a lower-grade employee also assigned to the headquarters complex,” FMA wrote. 

The U.S. Marshals declined to comment on the specific allegations. 

“As a federal law enforcement agency, the U.S. Marshals Service demands high standards of personal conduct from our employees,” spokesman Drew Wade wrote in an email. “We take seriously any allegation of misconduct by our personnel.

“As a matter of policy, USMS does not discuss personnel matters. However, all credible allegations are investigated and appropriate disciplinary actions are taken, if warranted.”

Newly Released FBI Files Bring Probe of Whitey Bulger to Life

James “Whitey” Bulger. Photo: The Boston Police Department.

By Steve Neavling

The FBI released 300 pages of newly declassified records on Boston gangster and murderer James “Whitey” Bulger, revealing his role in loan sharking and horse fixing and how he “slapped around” an informant. 

The heavily redacted records were released to The Boston Herald as part of a Freedom of Information Act request.

In 1974, the FBI was trailing Bulger and other “different hoodlum groups in the Boston area,” the records state. According to the files, the bureau was fully aware of Bulger’s “street-thug tactics as the New England Organized Crime Strike Task Force targeted gangsters and the mafia,” The Herald reports. 

In November 1974, an FBI informant lived “in constant fear for his life” for failing to pay “debts” as ordered by the bureau. The idea was to trigger Bulger’s anger. 

The informant was “willing to testify” and consented “to be equipped with a body recorder in order to obtain corroborative evidence,” the records state. 

The files also identified New York City and Las Vegas mobsters who were part of a horse-racing scheme that involved bribing jockeys and drugging horses. 

Bulger eventually fled to elude the FBI and made the bureau’s Top Ten Most Wanted List for his involvement in 19 murders. Bulger was later tracked down to an apartment in California and sentenced to two life sentences before he was beat to death inside his prison cell in 2018.

FBI Was Digging for Fabled Cache of Gold in Pennsylvania Forest, Emails Show

Gold bars, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling

The FBI was digging for a legendary cache of Civil War-era gold in a Pennsylvania forest three years ago this month, according to recently obtained emails. 

In March 2018, FBI agents, led by treasure hunters, trekked to a remote site about 138 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, where legend has it that a gold shipment was lost or hidden during the battle of Gettysburg in 1863, according to the Associated Press.

Since then, the FBI has been mum about why they were digging. The bureau has repeatedly said no gold was uncovered.

The emails were obtained by a father and son who led FBI agents to the state-owned site and have believed the dig did not come up empty. But many documents related to the dig remain sealed, leaving the father and son searching for more clues. 

Judge: Trump Opened Door for FBI Disclosure After Declassifying Dossier Documents

Members of the House Intelligence Committee. Photo via U.S. Capitol.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s decision to release a declassified report on the Steele dossier and the Democratic rebuttal to it means the FBI must cough up information on whether the report verifies the evidence suggesting a link between Trump and Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.

U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta in February supported the FBI’s decision to deny a request seeking to confirm the existence of records involving the controversial dossier, Politico reports

But Trump’s decision to declassify the competing reports nullifies the question of whether the documents exist.

“It remains no longer logical nor plausible for the FBI to maintain that it cannot confirm nor deny the existence of documents” related to attempts to verify information in the dossier, Mehta wrote in a 13-page opinion.

The FOIA was filed by a Politico reporter and the James Madison Project.

“This ruling represents another incremental step in revealing just how much the FBI has been able to verify or discredit the rather personal allegations contained in that synopsis derived from the Steele dossier,” said Brad Moss, a lawyer pressing the lawsuit. “It will be rather ironic if the president’s peripheral actions that resulted in this ruling wind up disclosing that the FBI has been able to corroborate any of the ‘salacious’ allegations.”

Records Reveal Geek Squads’ Relationship with FBI Is Deeper Than Previously Reported

Best Buy, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The FBI has paid Best Buy’s Geek Squad employees to act as informants for a decade, much longer than previously reported.

Records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act by the Electronic Frontier Foundation reveal that the FBI has been working with Geek Squad employees since at least 2008. 

The FBI declined to say whether it has similar relationship with other electronics repair companies.

The records raise serious questions about whether the relationship between the bureau and Geek Squad employees violate the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable searches and seizures.

At issue is whether the FBI’s payments to the employees for turning over child pornography prompted Geek Squad workers to search computers beyond what was required to make repairs.

The bureau paid at least “eight FBI informants at Geek Squad City” between $500 and $1,000 each for helping disclose child pornography.

Wife of Slain Journalist Sues FBI for Confidential Records about His Murder

Slain journalist Steven Vincent.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The wife of a journalist who was beaten and shot dead in Iraq in 2015 won’t rest until she gets justice.

But first, Lisa Ramaci needs classified documents from the FBI to go after Iranian officials she believes are behind the death of Steven Vincent, a 49-year-old freelance reporter.

Ramaci has sued the FBI for those documents, saying the bureau has refused to release more than 100 pages of documents, the New York Post reports

Ramadi has filed a civil lawsuit against Iran, its central bank and its national oil company.

Vincent was captured, beaten and shot dead by local police in Iraq a few days after he published an article about Iranian-sponsored radicals.

Judge Rules Against FBI in Reporter-Impersonation Case

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI incensed news organizations after reporters discovered the bureau used special agents to impersonate a journalist to help capture a suspect in a string of anonymous bomb threats in 2007. 

Saying the impersonation “endangers the media’s credibility and creates the appearance that it is not independent of the government,” two media groups sued the FBI for records to show how often the bureau had masqueraded as news organizations. 

The FBI responded that it had no such records.

But last week, a D.C. Circuit Court ruled that the FBI failed to adequately search and locate documents related to the practice of using undercover agents to pose as journalists to go after suspects, Courthouse News reports

Courthouse News writes:

Two media groups brought the underlying challenge based on reports about how the FBI apprehended an individual who in 2007 made a series anonymous bomb threats to a Seattle high school, causing near-daily evacuations of students, teachers and administrators.

Believing the threats were the handiwork of a narcissist, the FBI agents investigating the matter devised a plan: They would flatter the culprit into clicking a link that appeared to be press coverage suggesting he’d outsmarted the authorities.

When he did, a specialized malware would be secretly delivered to his computer and it would reveal his location. The plan worked and the individual calling in the bomb threats was arrested.

A technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union spotted the FBI’s ruse several years later while reviewing documents from an earlier records request. News of the media-impersonation tactics quickly made national headlines. The New York Times even printed a letter in justification of the ruse from FBI Director James Comey Jr.

In the wake of the controversy, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and Associated Press filed three FOIA requests for documents on the FBI’s impersonation of journalists and creation of “fake news” in the course of investigations.

Obama’s Administration Spent $114M on Vacations, Campaigning

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The total costs to taxpayers to protect former President Obama’s family travels reached a total of $114 million during his eight years in the White House, according to documents obtained by the conservative legal group, Judicial Watch.

So far, President Trump has spent $10 million in taxes for protection.

The figures come from documents obtained from the Air Force and Secret Service.

One of the biggest-ticket trips came during the weekend of February 14, 2014, when First Lady Michell Obama and her daughters traveled to Aspen, causing the shutdown of an airport.

Trump, who has been under fire for he and his family’s travel expenses, is spending less money so far than his predecessor, according to Judicial Watch.

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