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Tag: national security

Wray Pledges in Social Media Video to Keep Elections ‘Fair And Free,’ Contradicts Trump

FBI Director Christopher Wray

By Steve Neavling

In a nine-minute video posted on social media Tuesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray and top national security officials contradicted President Trump’s repeated and baseless narratives about widespread election fraud. 

“Next month we will exercise one of our most cherished rights and a foundation of our democracy – the right to vote in a free and fair election,” Wray said. “Rest assured that the security of the election and safeguarding your vote is and will continue to be one of our highest priorities.”

Christopher Krebs, director of cyber security and infrastructure security agency, added: “My confidence in the security of your vote has never been higher.”

Wray’s remarks come less than two weeks after he told a Senate committee that the bureau has no evidence of large-scale voter fraud. In testimony before a House committee in mid-September, Wray said Russia continues to be “very active” in meddling with the presidential election, primarily to “denigrate” Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Trump criticized Wray’s testimony a day later. 

“But Chris, you don’t see any activity from China, even though it is a FAR greater threat than Russia, Russia, Russia,” Trump tweeted. “They will both, plus others, be able to interfere in our 2020 Election with our totally vulnerable Unsolicited (Counterfeit?) Ballot Scam.”

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows also assailed Wray, saying the FBI director “has a hard time finding emails in his own FBI.”

Last Week, Daily Beast reported that Trump, if reelected, plans to replace Wray.

Wray is holding a news conference “on a matter of national security” at 11 a.m. today, fueling all kinds of speculation. Also attending the press conference are Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia G. Zachary Terwilliger, and Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office James A. Dawson. No further details were available. 

70+ National Security Officials Pledge to Vote for Biden, Saying Trump Is ‘Unfit to Serve’

Flie photo

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

More than 70 former Republican national security officials, including an ex-FBI director and former members of President Trump’s administration, plan to vote for Joe Biden.

In a letter, signed by a group called “Former Republican National Security Officials for Biden,” the 73 officials said President Trump is corrupt and unfit to serve.

“We are profoundly concerned about the course of our nation under the leadership of Donald Trump,” the letter reads. “Through his actions and his rhetoric, Trump has demonstrated that he lacks the character and competence to lead this nation and has engaged in corrupt behavior that renders him unfit to serve as President.”

Those who signed the letter include former FBI Director William Webster; John Negroponte, the first director of National Intelligence; Michael Leiter, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center; and Michael Heyden, former CIA director.

The letter provides 10 reasons the officials don’t believe Trump is fit to be president. They say Trump is “unfit to lead during a national crisis,” “solicited foreign influence,” “aligned himself with dictators and failed to stand up for American values,” “disparaged our armed forces, intelligence agencies, and diplomats,” “undermined the rule of law,” “dishonored the office of the presidency,” “divided our nation,” “attacked and vilified immigrants” and “imperiled America’s security by mismanaging his national security team.”

“We have concluded that Donald Trump has failed our country and that Vice President Joe Biden should be elected the next President of the United States,” the letter reads.

Sally Yates Defends Flynn Investigation, Denies It Was Motivated by Anti-Trump Politics

Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates on Wednesday defended the federal investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, adamantly denying allegations that the probe was politically motivated.

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Yates said the impetus for the investigation was concerns about national security after the discovery that Flynn held secretive talks with the Russian ambassador, The New York Times reports.

“General Flynn had essentially neutered the U.S. government’s message of deterrence,” Yates testified. “Far from rebuking the Russians for their attack on our country, General Flynn was conciliatory.”

Yates also said it was “highly irregular” for the Justice Department to call for the dismissal of charges against Flynn.

The Republican-led committee is investigating the probe of Russia’s alleged ties to the incoming Trump administration.

During the hearing, Trump claimed Yates was “part of the greatest political crime of the Century” and that she was “either lying or grossly incompetent.”

Hate Groups, Fueled by Conspiracy Theories May Exploit Coronavirus to Target Attacks, Feds Warn

Timothy Wilson is accused of plotting to detonate a bomb near a hospital, via Facebook.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Hate groups, fueled by conspiracy theories about the coronavirus, may incite violence in the midst of the outbreak, national security officials warn in an intelligence bulletin fringe the FBI, Homeland Security, and National Counterterrorism Center.

The report, first obtained by CNN, also warns that extremists may target hospitals, grocery stores, and even police officers enforcing social-distancing measures.

Recent plots were uncovered in the past two weeks, including a Missouri man accused of plotting to detonate a car bomb at a hospital and a train engineer who said he intentionally crashed his train near a naval hospital ship that he believed was preparing for a government takeover.

Asian-Americans and Jewish people also have been targeted with threats because of conspiracy theories blaming them for the spread of the virus.

CNN wrote:

While the FBI has become increasingly focused on combating domestic terrorism in recent years as the number of reported hate crimes has increased, the recent warnings have reflected an elevated concern that the pandemic and the changes to American society that it has caused were creating more perceived reasons and opportunities for extremists to act.

While the FBI has become increasingly focused on combating domestic terrorism in recent years as the number of reported hate crimes has increased, the recent warnings have reflected an elevated concern that the pandemic and the changes to American society that it has caused were creating more perceived reasons and opportunities for extremists to act.

Some hate groups are claiming that government responses to the outbreak could crash the global economy and lead to a race war, the bulletin states, potentially working to incite people who are facing economic hardship and social isolation in the meantime to commit acts of violence.
Others have commented that they should exploit holes in policing left by law enforcement who’ve contracted the virus themselves or are diverted to enforcing stay-at-home orders.

John Brown Named Executive Assistant Director of FBI’s National Security Branch

Current FBI headquarters, via FBI

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

John Brown has been named executive assistant director (EAD) of the National Security Branch at FBI headquarters in Washington D.C.

Brown’s responsibility is to ensure the FBI can defend the U.S. and its interests from national security threats.

Most recently, Brown served as the assistant director of the Counterintelligence Division at FBI headquarters.

Brown’s career with the FBI began in 1999, when he served as a special agent assigned to the Chicago Field Office, where he primarily worked counterintelligence investigations.

In 2004, he was part of an FBI team working counterterrorism operations with the Department of Defense in Iraq.

In 2005, Brown returned to FBI headquarters as a supervisory special agent in the Counterterrorism Division and later became unit chief, overseeing international terrorism investigations. He also led the creation of the bureau’s first unit dedicated to investigating terrorists using the Internet.

In 2008, Brown moved to the Chicago Field Office to supervise a counterterrorism squad.

From 2010 to 2011, Brown served with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan before returning to Chicago.

A year later, Brown was promoted to section chief in the Cyber Division at FBI headquarters in 2012 and returned to the Chicago office in 2014 to lead a social media cyber squad. Brown was later named assistant special agent in charge of Chicago’s cyber and counterintelligence operations.

In 2016, Brown was promoted to special agent in charge of the Administrative Branch of the Los Angeles Field Office. In 2018, Brown began serving as the special agent in charge of the San Diego Field Office.

Before joining the FBI, Mr. Brown served in the U.S. Army as an air defense and military intelligence officer.

Trump Budget Calls for Moving Secret Service Back to Treasury Department

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Secret Service, which has been a part of the Department of Homeland Security after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, may soon return to the Treasury Department.

The move is part of President Trump’s 2021 budget.

CQ Roll Call spotted the proposal in a footnote to an Office of Management and Budget summary table for the next year’s budget.

“The funding totals for 2019 actual and 2020 enacted are comparatively adjusted to reflect the Administration’s 2021 Budget proposal to shift the U.S. Secret Service from DHS to the Department of the Treasury,” the footnote said.

The move would need legislative approval and is supported by current and former Secret Service directors.

Top Senators from both parties are discussing the move.

“The good news is we have bipartisan support in the Senate. They’ll be introducing this legislation,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a Fox Business Network interview last week. “I think you know the Secret Service was started at the Treasury Department to prevent counterfeiting.”

Trump’s administration says the move will boost efforts to combat cyber-enabled financial crimes and improve national security efforts.

Senate Confirms John Demers to Head DOJ’s National Security Division

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The Senate on Thursday confirmed John Demers to head the Justice Department’s national security division after a Republican senator lifted a hold on his confirmation over a dispute on marijuana.

Demers, an attorney for Boeing and former member of the Justice Department’s national security division team, is set to become assistant attorney general for national security.

“John Demers was on the leadership team at the creation of the National Security Division, which today plays a crucial role in protecting Americans from the threat of terrorism,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.

“I am grateful to the Senate for confirming John and I look forward to his return to the department, where his significant experience in both the private sector and public service will most certainly benefit the American people.”

The confirmation was made possible after Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado lifted a hold on the nomination over a dispute with Sessions’ zealous crackdown on marijuana, even in states that legalized pot.

“I have decided to lift my holds on the Assistant Attorney General for National Security, United States Attorneys, and United States Marshals as an act of good faith,” Gardner said in a statement. “My holds on all other DOJ nominees will remain in place as discussions continue.”

Other Stories of Interest

Hawkish CIA Director Pompeo May Replace Tillerson As Secretary of State

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

If all goes as planned, hawkish CIA Director Mike Pompeo will leave his post to become President Trump’s next secretary of state, replacing Rex W. Tillerson, whose relationship with the White House has become strained.

The New York Times also reports that Pompeo likely would be succeeded at the CIA by Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican who has aligned himself with the president on national security issues. 

Trump has not officially approved the plan, which was pitched by White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly.

Pompeo, a hard-line former Congressman from the Tea Party wing of the party, has expressed more hawkish views toward Iran, North Korea and other prominent issues.

A West Point graduate, Pompeo has been unusually vociferous and political for a CIA director, soft-pedaling the link between Trump’s campaign and Russia and endorsing regime change in North Korea. 

Sen. Tim Cotton

Some questions remain about whether Cotton would be tapped to become the CIA director. He’s a strong ally on immigration and national security, but Republicans are hesitant to put a Senate seat in play during what could be disastrous mid-term elections for the party.

When asked by Fox News whether he’d take the CIA position, Cotton didn’t answer directly. 

“I’m very proud to be representing the people of Arkansas,” he said.

The New York Times reports that another potential candidate for the top CIA post is Robert S. Harward, a retired Navy vice admiral who turned down the national security position after Michael T. Flynn’s abrupt departure.