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Tag: Homeland Security

Violence by Extremists Is ‘Likely’ Following Supreme Court’s Decision to Overturn Roe v. Wade, DHS Memo Warns

U.S. Supreme Court

By Steve Neavling

Homeland Security warned in a memo about the heightened risk of domestic violent extremism in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. 

The memo, obtained by CBS News, says extremists “will likely exploit” the ruling to “intensify violence against a wide range of targets.”

“Most at risk” are state and federal officials, along with their buildings.

The memo refers to recent attacks by an abortion-rights group, as well as an attempted plot to murder Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. 

“We expect violence could occur for weeks following the release, particularly as (domestic violent extremists) may be mobilized to respond to changes in state laws and ballot measures on abortion stemming from the decision,” the memo states. 

Ex-DHS Secretary Johnson Suggests Graphic Images Would ‘Awaken the Public’ on School Shootings

Former Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson.

By Steve Neavling

As school shootings continue to increase, former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson suggested that “something graphic is required to awaken the public to the real horror” of the massacres.

“I lack the moral standing to tell a parent to accept and approve, for the greater good, the public display of photos of his or her dead child. Only they can judge the additional weight that doing so would place on them, at a time when they are already struggling with unimaginable grief,” Johnson wrote in an op-ed published in The Washington Post

“Nor do I suggest the release of any images in particular. But something graphic is required to awaken the public to the real horror of these repeated tragedies,” he added,

Johnson pointed to the impact that photos have had on historical events, from Black protesters being beaten in the south to a white cop kneeling on the neck of George Floyd. 

“Conversely, imagine if there had been no video of Floyd’s killing, leaving us with the initial Minneapolis police report, which was headed simply, ‘Man dies after medical incident during police interaction,’” Johnson wrote.

Johnson called the Uvalde elementary school shooting a “crime scene” that lawmakers should view more closely. 

“Robb Elementary School in Uvalde is a crime scene. If there were a case to go to trial, the prosecution would have to present publicly the shocking evidence of guilt. Put another way: Why must innocent schoolchildren, for the rest of their lives, carry the vivid memories of the executions of their teachers and classmates, while federal and state lawmakers (and the adult constituents who elect them) are spared?” he wrote. 

Johnson closed his piece by writing, “I am convinced that part of the reason we’ve been unable to do this is because the public and the politicians who purport to represent them lack a vivid understanding of the price being paid. The horror has been kept under wraps. To truly judge the trade-offs of the status quo, the death and destruction must be honesty revealed. We need a game changer. We need an Emmett Till moment.”

Heads of FBI, Homeland Security Issue Statements Following School Shooting in Texas

FBI Director Christopher Wray, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

FBI Director Christopher Wray and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issued statements Wednesday following the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. 

Here is Wray’s statement:

“Yesterday we got the news we all dread. Parents received calls that are too devastating to even fathom. And a community, really the whole nation, was shaken by another horrific mass shooting. This time—once again—at an elementary school full of young children just days away from finishing the school year.

“My heart goes out to the families of the victims and to the entire community in Uvalde. I know you’re experiencing unimaginable pain and trauma. The entire FBI family feels your heartbreak and stands with you. There will certainly be more we learn about this heinous attack in the days ahead, and I know the American people—and especially the people of Uvalde—are looking for answers.

“I want to acknowledge the heroism of all law enforcement who responded immediately to the scene. For our part, the FBI will continue to work around the clock with the Texas Department of Public Safety; the Uvalde Police Department; and our other state, local, and federal partners to assist in any way we can. We’re dedicating the full resources of the FBI San Antonio Field Office and a host of other FBI Divisions to helping the Texas DPS and Uvalde PD, which have the lead in the investigation.

“On top of that, we’ve deployed national resources, including investigative and analytical support, evidence response and laboratory personnel, victim services professionals to assist families of the victims, and crisis management and behavioral analysis units.

“We’re absolutely heartbroken about yesterday’s tragic events and committed to doing our part to support our partners in the investigation and the Uvalde community as we begin to try to move forward.”

Here is Mayorkas’ statement:

“No words can come close to comforting the families of those lost in Uvalde yesterday. We at the Department of Homeland Security are horrified by this callous act of violence. We grieve for the families and loved ones of the children and teachers lost, and with the people of the community of Uvalde. We are hopeful for the full and fast recovery of those who suffered injuries.

“We are grateful for the courageous members of our Border Patrol, many of whom are part of the Uvalde and surrounding communities, who immediately responded to the scene along with local and state law enforcement. Without hesitation, they put themselves between the shooter and students to end the bloodshed and administer medical aid. Without question, their heroism yesterday saved lives. A Border Patrol Agent was injured in the crossfire yesterday and we know the loss and trauma from this tragedy will continue to impact many other CBP families for a long time to come.

“The Department will continue coordinating with federal, state, and local partners and offering our full support to the Uvalde community. As we pray for the families and loved ones and recognize the bravery of frontline law enforcement personnel, we must redouble our collective efforts to make our communities safer.”

Homeland Security Pauses Disinformation Governance Board Because of, Well, Disinformation

By Steve Neavling

The Department of Homeland Security is pausing its controversial Disinformation Governance Board, and the leader of the group has resigned, after it became a target of disinformation, The New York Times reports.

The board, which launched three weeks ago, was tasked with combating disinformation at a time when lies and baseless conspiracy theories are fueling domestic violence. 

But Republicans baselessly claimed that the board’s work would lead to censorship. 

According to the group, the goal was to combat dangerous disinformation by international crime groups and foreign adversaries, not to police people’s speech. 

“False attacks have become a significant distraction from the department’s vitally important work to combat disinformation that threatens the safety and security of the American people,” the department’s statement said.

In her resignation letter, the group’s leader, Nina Jankowicz, said it’s “deeply disappointing that mischaracterizations of the Board became a distraction from the Department’s vital work, and indeed, along with recent events globally and nationally, embodies why it is necessary.”

Republicans Push to Move Secret Service Back to Treasury Department

By Steve Neavling

The Secret Service, which has been a part of the Department of Homeland Security after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, could return to the Treasury Department if Republicans get their way.

The Secret Service was a part of the Treasury Department until it moved to the Department of Homeland Security. 

Reps. Roger Williams, R-Texas, and David Kustoff, R-Tenn., introduced a bill last week that would move the Secret Service back to the Treasury Department, Government Executive reports.

“The Department of the Treasury is a better fit for the Secret Service, as the main responsibility of the agency is to combat financial crimes and counter critical criminal threats to the U.S. financial systems,” Kustoff said in a press release on Tuesday. “Returning the Secret Service to the U.S. Treasury will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its investigations and bolster its capability to combat illicit finance and cybercrime.” 

In a statement to Government Executive, Williams said, “Transferring them from the Department of Homeland security  to the Treasury Department would help fulfill their mission of protecting our nation from the ever-changing threats to our financial system.” Moreover, “this strategic realignment will bolster coordination between the two agencies and increase their capabilities to investigate and combat financial crimes.”

The Secret Service did not comment on the bill. 

The move would need legislative approval. 

McCarthy Warns of Possible Impeachment of Mayorkas over Immigration

Homeland Security Director Alejandro Mayorkas.

By Steve Neavling

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Republicans may try to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. 

McCarthy made the statement Monday during a visit to the southern border, The Hill reports

“This is his moment in time to do his job,” McCarthy said. “But at any time if someone is derelict in their job, there is always the option of impeaching somebody.”

Mayorkas is scheduled to testify before the House on Wednesday and Thursday. 

Republicans are opposed to lifting Title 42, which has allowed the U.S. to deny asylum-seekers a hearing.

The Biden administration said it plans to lift Title 42 on May 23. 

Mayoraka’s “first response to us should be, ‘We should not lift Title 42,’ ” McCarthy said. “They’re not prepared to protect, and we cannot sustain what will happen to this nation.” 

Although Democrats have a slim majority in the House, that could change in the November mid-terms, which would make impeachment far more likely. 

Feds Indict 2 Men Accused of Impersonating Federal Agents, Lavishing Secret Service with Gifts

By Steve Neavling

Two men accused of impersonating federal agents and providing expensive gifts to Secret Service officers and agents for the past two years have been indicted by a federal grand jury. 

Arian Taherzadeh, 36, and Haider Ali, 40, were charged with false impersonation of a federal officer and possessing a large-capacity ammunition device, Business Insider reports.

According to the indictment, the men possessed an illegal magazine for a Glock firearm, and Taherzadeh had five illegal magazines for a Sig Sauer firearm.

They live in a luxury apartment building in Southeast Washington, where several Secret Service agents and other law enforcement officials also resided. They are free of jail on home confinement. 

They are accused of falsely claiming they worked for Homeland Security and were on a special task force investigating gang and violence connected to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. The pair allegedly posed as law enforcement in order to build a relationship with real agents. 

Taherzadeh gave Secret Service officers and agents rent-free apartments, surveillance systems, a drone, a TV, iPhones, a generator, a gun case and other policing equipment, according to prosecutors. Taherzadeh is also accused of offering to buy a $2,000 assault rifle for a Secret Service agent assigned to protect the first lady. 

Four Secret Service agents who associated with the pair have been placed on leave pending an investigation. 

Homeland Security Reports Record Number of Encounters with Undocumented Immigrants

Border Patrol agent. Photo: CBP

By Steve Neavling

A record number of undocumented immigrants were detained at the Southwest border last month, according to recently filed court records.

Homeland Security reported that CBP encountered 221,303 migrants at the southern border in March, which is a 28% increase from Mach 2021. 

By comparison, fewer than 35,000 migrants were encountered at the border in March 2020. 

Federal authorities are worried about a surge at the border as the Biden administration plans to rescind Title 42 health authority over undocumented immigrants. Under the current policy, migrants can be expelled quickly without a hearing on their asylum claims. 

In March, 123,304 immigrants were expelled under Title 42.