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Tag: Justice Department

FBI Director Refuses to Say “Never” When It Comes to Agents Impersonating Reporters

FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

FBI Director James Comey said he’s unwilling to pledge an end to agents posing as reporters, but emphasized that such a tactic should be rare and “done carefully with significant supervision, if it’s going to be done,” the Seattle Times reports.

The comments at a round-table discussion with reporters came after recent revelations that an FBI agent posed as an Associated Press reporter in 2007 to investigate high school bomb threats.

The AP asked that the tactic stop.

“I’m not willing to say never,” Comey responded. “Just as I wouldn’t say that we would never pose as an educator or a doctor or, I don’t know, a rocket scientist.”

The AP argues that posing as a reporter degrades a news agency’s “legacy of objectivity, truth, accuracy and integrity.”

Comey said that he’s not familiar with any other instances in which agents posed as reporters.

“I think it’s something that ought to be done carefully with significant supervision if it’s going to be done,” he said. “But I’m not in a position to say never.”

 

Justice Department Says It Won’t Reopen Criminal Probe Into Torture Cases

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The Justice Department roiled civil rights advocates on Tuesday by saying it would not reopen a criminal probe into the CIA’s handling of terrorism suspects following a sobering report about torture, the USA Today reports.

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report disclosed several types of abuse – water-boarding, extreme sleep deprivation and others – by the CIA.

“The true test of our nation’s character comes now,” said Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice. “Will we make excuses and try to defend the indefensible? Or will we finally acknowledge that our nation crossed a terrible line, and start talking about accountability?”

A Justice Department officials told the USA Today that investigators in the probe “reviewed the committee’s full report and did not find any new information that they had not previously considered in reaching their determination.”

Justice Department Issues Scathing Report of Cleveland Police Department’s Abusive Practices

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

A federal examination of the practices and procedures by the Cleveland Police Department prompted the Justice Department to deliver a scatting review of the department with a mandate for sweeping changes, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

Attorney General Eric Holder based the findings on a civil rights investigation that involved nearly 600 use-of-force incidents from 2010 to 2013.

Among the problems found were insufficient accountability, ineffective policies and inadequate training.

The 58-page report found that police have shot at suspects without justifiable case, beat people who were in handcuffs and covered up abuse by writing false reports.

“The reality is that there are problems,” Holder said. “But I also think the people of Cleveland should have a sense of hope … that these problems have been identified and that they can be rectified.”

FBI Director James Comey Warns of Social Media Dangers During Jacksonville Visit

FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

During a visit to the FBI’s Jacksonville field office, Director James Comey delivered a warning about social media.

“You have a feeling you’re safe and alone in your kitchen, when you’re actually out wandering all over the world,” Comey said about the availability of personal information on social media, First Coast News reports.

Comey said terrorists use social media to keep tabs on law enforcement and the military.

“We want to make sure, given these terrorists are bent on hurting people, especially those in uniform, that we are not communicating things that make it easy for them,” he said.

But Comey said he doesn’t “want to freak people out.”

“I just want them to be prudent,” he said.

Justice Department to Launch Civil Rights Investigation into Eric Garner’s Death

Eric Garner with his children, via National Action Network

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Soon after a grand jury declined to indict a white New York City cop in the death of Eric Garner, a black man who was selling cigarettes, the Justice Department will conduct its own civil rights investigation.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a press conference today that Attorney General Eric Holder was preparing to closely examine the case to determine whether civil rights charges are warranted, the Huffington Post reports.

“They made clear that the investigation initiated by the U.S. attorney would now move forward, move expeditiously, and be a thorough investigation,” de Blasio said.

The announcement comes after a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict New York City Police Officer Daniel Pantelo, who placed Garner in a chokehold after arresting him on July 17 for selling single cigarettes.

In a video, Garner can be heard screaming, “I can’t breathe,” before his body went limp.

A medical examiner determined Garner’s death was a homicide caused by the chokehold.

Statement From Attorney Eric Holder:

Good evening. I want to provide an update regarding the case involving Eric Garner, a Staten Island resident, who died tragically in July.

Since Mr. Garner’s death, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, the Civil Rights Division and the FBI have been monitoring the local case closely while allowing the local investigation, led by the District Attorney’s office in Staten Island, to proceed first.

Earlier today, the grand jury declined to return an indictment in this case. Now that the local investigation has concluded, I am here to announce that the Justice Department will proceed with a federal civil rights investigation into Mr. Garner’s death.

This afternoon I spoke with the widow of Eric Garner to inform her and her family of our decision to investigate potential federal civil rights violations. I have been in touch with President Obama and Mayor de Blasio regarding our decision as well.

Our prosecutors will conduct an independent, thorough, fair and expeditious investigation.

In addition to performing our own investigative work, the Department will conduct a complete review of the material gathered during the local investigation.

Read more »

President Obama’s Close Friend Considered a “Hostile Witness” by Justice Department

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

One of President Obama’s closest friends is not cooperating in a federal investigation, prompting the Justice Department to seek Dr. Eric E. Whitaker as a “hostile witness,” the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Prosecutors filed the motion Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Springfield, where a Chicago businessman, Leon Dingle Jr., is on trial on charges of stealing more than $3 million in tax dollars from state grants.

Prosecutors said Whitaker, who has not been charged, benefited at least three times from the state grant money.

Whitaker incensed prosecutors when he backed off a deal to cooperate with investigators.

The cooperation ended, prosecutors said, when Whitaker was asked about his relationship with Quinshaunta R. Golden, the former state official who oversaw the grants.

Whitaker was asked whether he had a “sexual relationship” with Golden and refused to cooperate.

Prosecutors said he is “a witness clearly hostile to the government.”

Justice Department Prepares to Turn Over Nearly 30,000 Emails in IRS Probe

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Did the IRS improperly disclose taxpayer information to the White House?

It has been a question that is more than a year old but may finally yield an answer after the Justice Department said it is close releasing thousands of documents related to the IRS investigation, International Business Times reports.

The Justice Department reportedly could release nearly 30,000 emails between a White House policy adviser and a former IRS official.

The potentially inappropriate exchange surfaced in 2013 when The Daily Caller reported that the White House and IRS officials exchanged confidential information about a conservative group aiming to abolish the contraception mandate with Obamacare.

The allegations are part of larger claims that the IRS was targeting conservative groups seeking tax exemptions.

David Laufman To Oversee Justice Department’s Increased Counterespionage Efforts

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

David Laufman, an experienced former federal prosecutor, will take over the Justice Department’s counterespionage efforts as part of a larger restructuring to put more of a focus on cyber attacks, Reuters reports.

Laufman is expected to begin his job today as chief of the counterespionage section of the Justice Department’s national security division.

Laufman is returning to government work after joining the private sector. He’s worked as a CIA analyst, a congressional insider and in the early 2000s a senior Justice Department official under George W. Bush.

The Justice Department is trying to get a handle on growing cyber threats and violations of export control laws, Reuters wrote.