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Tag: GAO

Judge: Acting Homeland Security Director Wolf Likely Serving in Role Unlawfully

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf is likely serving in his role unlawfully, a Maryland judge ruled said.

In the ruling, Judge Paula Xinis blocked the Trump administration’s new asylum restrictions because Wolf appears to lack the authority to introduce them, The Hill reports.

“In sum, the Court concludes that Plaintiffs are likely to demonstrate (former acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin) McAleenan’s appointment was invalid under the agency’s applicable order of succession, and so he lacked the authority to amend the order of succession to ensure Wolf’s installation as Acting Secretary,” Xinis’ said in a 69-page ruling on Friday.

The judge’s decision comes a month after the Government Accountability Office determined that Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli, a senior official performing deputy secretary duties, were not appointed through a valid process and therefore aren’t legally qualified to hold their positions. The GAO said their appointments violated the laws detailing who can fill Senate-confirmed posts.

The White House has said it’s not acting on the findings.

Two Top Homeland Security Officials Were Illegally Appointed, Not Qualified to Hold Posts

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The top two acting Homeland Security leaders were not appointed through a valid process and therefore aren’t legally qualified to hold their positions, the Government Accountability Office has determined.

The appointments of Chad Wolf, acting Department of Homeland Security secretary, and Ken Cuccinelli, a senior official performing deputy secretary duties, violated the laws detailing who can fill Senate-confirmed posts, the GAO said. They have been serving in their positions since November.

“Because the incorrect official assumed the title of acting secretary at that time, subsequent amendments to the order of succession made by that official were invalid,” the GAO said Friday, as reported by The New York Times.

Without the ability to enforce its findings, the GAO was referring the case to Homeland Security’s inspector General and Congress.

The White House said it’s not acting on the findings.

“D.H.S. is expressly authorized by Congress in the Homeland Security Act to designate its acting secretaries,” Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, said. “G.A.O. is not. And G.A.O.’s opinion substituting its views for that of the agency’s is not only wrong, but laughable.”

Some Democrats called for the officials to resign and said their policy decisions could be invalidated.

“President Trump’s efforts to install political sycophants to implement his extreme policies in an end run around the law and Senate have finally caught up with him,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. said in a statement. “The determination by an independent congressional watchdog today invalidates actions Mr. Cuccinelli and Mr. Wolf have taken and both should immediately step down from their illegal roles.”

Border Patrol Agent Accused of Killing 4 Women Far from the Only Agent in Legal Trouble

Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Juan David

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Accused serial killer, Border Patrol Supervisor Juan David Ortiz, is far from the only agent at the agency to be accused of serious crimes in past five years.

Border Patrol Agent Ronald Anthony Burgos-Aviles is accused of killing his 27-year-old lover and the couple’s baby. He was charged in April and has pleaded not guilty.

Between 2014-16, more than 20,000 misconduct cases, which include criminal offenses, were filed against employees of Customs and Border Protection, according to the Government Accountability Office, USA Today reports

Of those, 1,300 involved criminal conduct, ranging from drunken driving to domestic violence. An additional 1,000 cases involved mistreatment of detainees, ranging from physical violence to sexual abuse.

Only about 2% of those cases forced agents to resign, retire or be fired.

Border Patrol Losing More Agents Than It Can Replace, Underscoring Hiring Challenges

File photo of a Border Patrol agent.

File photo of a Border Patrol agent.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Border Patrol is losing more agents than it can replace, causing “significant challenges” in hiring and training new personnel.

Two eye-opening reports from the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security and the Government Accountability Office underscore the difficulties of meeting ambitious hiring goals set by President Trump, the Los Angels Times reports

The GAO report indicates that staffing levels fall below the 2011 congressional mandate of 21,370 agents. As of May, the agency had 19,500 agents, or 1,870 fewer than required.

Between 2013-16, Border Patrol hired an average of 523 agents a year to replace the annual exodus of 904.

The reports indicate fewer agents are hired because of better pay at competing agencies, a difficult hiring process that requires a polygraph exam and assignments that involve working in remote location near the border.

Other Stories of Interest

New Report: Nearly Half of TSA Employees Accused of Misconduct

tsaBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Nearly half of all TSA employees have been accused of some form of misconduct between 2013 and 2015, according to a new report from the House Homeland Security Committee.

Among the complaints are sexual misconduct, bribery and failure to follow TSA procedures.

The number of complaints between 2013 and 2015 rose nearly 29%.

In an attempt to curtail misconduct, the Government Accountability Office recommended that the agency implement a better review process for allegations.

Other Stories of Interest

Federal Watchdog Criticizes FBI Over Handling of Facial Recognition Technology

FBI-facial-recognitionBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI was criticized by a federal watchdog for using a huge database of more than 411 million photos without disclosing the impact on public privacy.

The Government Accountability Office released a study on the database on Wednesday, saying the FBI did not obey disclosure requirements, the Guardian reports. 

The office is making the attorney general to determine why the FBI failed to make the disclosures.

The GAO also wants the FBI to conduct accuracy tests to determine ensure the software is working correctly.

The Privacy Act of 1974 requires law enforcement to disclose when they are using collecting personal information in a database. The GAO said the FBI failed to do that.

The FBI gets the photos from driver’s license and passport photos.

Government Watchdog: TSA Fails to Provide Proper Oversight of Airport Perimeters

airport-photoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Transportation Safety Administration has failed to properly oversee airport perimeter security, making the entire U.S. commercial aviation system vulnerable, a government watchdog said.

CNN reports that the  Government Accountability Office issued a scathing report that includes the TSA’ failure to update recommendations to account for new potential threats.

“TSA has not updated this assessment to reflect changes in the airport security risk environment, such as TSA’s subsequent determination of risk from the insider threat — the potential of rogue aviation workers exploiting their credentials, access and knowledge of security procedures throughout the airport for personal gain or to inflict damage,” the report said.

According to TSA data from 2009 to 2015, there was an average of 2,500 breaches every year over the airport access points and perimeter.

Other Stories of Interest

Washington Post Columnist: Homeland Security Fails to Protect Buildings from Cyber Attacks

By Josh Hicks
Washington Post

Federal buildings are unprepared for potential cyber attacks on their security systems, elevators, heating and cooling networks and other critical operations because the Department of Homeland Security doesn’t have a handle on the risks.

At stake are thousands of vulnerable facilities, including the offices of federal employees and structures that house high-risk items such as drugs and weapons.

Those are the findings from a Government Accountability Office report this week that said DHS lacks a strategy for protecting government buildings from hackers, terrorists, corrupt employees and criminal groups who might want to breach their networks.

Auditors determined that the increased digital connectivity with federal facilities “heightens their vulnerability to cyber attacks, which could compromise security measures, hamper agencies’ ability to carry out their mission, or cause physical harm.”

GAO released its findings on Monday, the same day President Obama gave a speech about national cybersecurity efforts and hackers took control of two social media accounts operated by the U.S. military’s Central Command, posting threatening messages and Islamist propaganda videos.

The watchdog report said the Department of Homeland Security, which is responsible for protecting federal buildings, has failed to formulate a plan for dealing with the vulnerability of government facilities.

“No one within DHS is assessing or addressing cyber risk to building and access control systems … in part, because cyber threats involving these systems are an emerging issue” the report said.

To read more click here.

Other Stories of Interest

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Undercover Agent Explains How He Helped FBI Nab Silk Leader

House Bill Aimed at Blocking President Obama on Immigration

ATF Takes to Facebook to Interact More with Public

Is TSA Compromising Security for Popularity, Peaking at Your Records