FBI Director James Comey said it’s impossible to gauge how many Americans are joining Islamic insurgents in Syria but emphasized that the threat is urgent, the Associated Press reports.
Comey said he’s concerned about what he called “lone wolves,” or people who are connecting online with others interested in jihad.
Those people are hard to track, said Comey, who originally estimated about 100 people have made the trip to Syria or at least tried to.
“When I give you the number of more than 100, I can’t tell you with high confidence that’s a 100 of 200, that’s a 100 of 500, that’s a 100 of a 1,000 or more, because it’s so hard to track,” Comey said.
The FBI has made several arrests in connection with terrorism in Syria.
More than a dozen Pulitzer Prize winners urged the Justice Department on Monday to stop trying to force New York Times reporter and author James Risen to identify a confidential source, the US News reports.
Risen has said he’d go to jail before testifying at the trial of former CIA employee Jeffrey Sterling, who is accused of providing a tip for Risen’s book, “State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration.”
Prosecutors allege Risen divulged a CIA scheme to provide flawed nuclear weapons designs to Iran.
Fourteen Pulitzer Prize winners issued a statement in support of Risen.
“Enough is enough,” said three-time Pulitzer Prize winner David Barstow of The New York Times. “The relentless and by all appearances vindictive effort by two administrations to force Jim Risen into betraying his sources has already done substantial and lasting damage to journalism in the United States. I’ve felt the chill firsthand. Trusted sources in Washington are scared to talk by telephone, or by email, or even to meet for coffee, regardless of whether the subject touches on national security or not.”
The DEA forked over $854,460 to an Amtrak secretary for confidential information the agency should have gotten for free, according to an internal investigation.
The DEA paid the employee to be an informant despite the agency’s right to obtain the information at no cost as part of a joint drug enforcement task force, the Associated Press reports.
The payments were made over a two-decade span, the investigation found.
The Amtrak secretary provided passenger information without the proper approval, but the information was available through the proper channels, the inspector general found.
OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST
The New York Times reports the inquiry into Michael Brown’s death came on the third day of protests. Ferguson, a city of 21,000 residents, has a history of racial issues. Although black people make up a majority of the residents, the local government and police are predominately white.
When the all-white school board suspended a black superintendent, protests broke out.
“The community is still highly segregated,” said Karen Knodt, interim pastor of the Immanuel United Church of Christ, whose congregation has 800 members, only four of whom are black. “The institutions of power don’t yet reflect the changing demographics of the county.”
The city also has been under a Justice Department investigation following claims of racial disparities for juveniles in Family Court.
A former sketch artist for the FBI has written a tell-all book about his 32 years working with the bureau, the New York Post reports.
Gene O’Donnell, who is shopping his book “Faces of Crime: Memoirs of an FBI Forensic Artist,” said he’s had a lot of bizarre experiences at the bureau, but the strangest may have been drawing a face based on visions of a psychic.
“Officially, I don’t believe that the FBI has ever really admitted to using psychics, but I can assure you that they do. Rarely, but every once in a while, the real FBI looks more like Mulder and Scully’s FBI,” said O’Donnell, referring to “The X-Files.”
O’Donnell, who retired in 2009, started working with the FBI after studying commercial art.
In one his more well-known sketches, O’Donnell helped capture the Russian handler of spy Aldrich Ames.
O’Donnell also helped sketch the face of a man who had been badly decomposed.
Secret Service agents are used to the jumpers – the people who hop over the White House fence.
But Thursday night was different when a toddler slipped through the gate in site of arms officers trained to protect the president, the Associated Press reports.
Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan said the boy was given a “timeout” before being returned to his parents.
Donovan joked that the FBI will wait until the boy learns to walk before questioning him.
OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST
- FBI Investigating Detroit Cops over Stolen Evidence, Cash
- Contractors Protest After FBI Awards No-Bid Contract to Motorola
- Pennsylvania Man Accused of Relaying Messages to Terror Group
- Teen Accused of Fabricating Story of Being Abducted in Michigan
- More Guns Showing Up at Airports Despite Persistent Warnings
Civil unrest over the fatal shooting of a black teenager by police turned into looting and vandalism Sunday evening as investigators try to piece together what happened.
The Associated Press reports that the St. Louis County chapter of the NAACCP is urging the FBI to take over the case of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was killed after a scuffle with police in the predominately black suburb of Ferguson.
“He was running this way,” Brown’s grandmother, Desiree Harris, said. “When I got up there, my grandson was lying on the pavement. I asked the police what happened. They didn’t tell me nothing.”
Brown’s stepfather held a sign outside his house that read, “Ferguson police just executed my unarmed son!!!”
Police confirmed a police officer shot Brown but didn’t elaborate. Witnesses said Brown was unarmed when he was shot.
The FBI’s involvement is important “to protect the integrity of the investigation,” said John Gaskin, a member of the St. Louis County NAACP.
Attorney General Eric Holder said attorneys in the department’s civil rights division will monitor developments related to the shooting.
If I drive across a U.S. border, I expect to stop at a Border Patrol checkpoint. But imagine driving to the grocery store, or Mom’s house, well inside America, and being stopped by the Border Patrol. Many Americans don’t have to imagine it — it’s how they live.
Even as the federal government fails to control the southern border, it sends the Border Patrol farther into the interior, where Americans complain that agents harass people who are already U.S. citizens.
And it’s legal. The Supreme Court ruled that the Border Patrol can set up “inland” checkpoints anywhere up to 100 miles from an external border of the United States. That’s what government now considers a “reasonable distance” from the border.
But that means the zone within which you could be stopped and searched includes much of Florida and California and all of Maine and New Hampshire. Two-thirds of America’s population lives that close to the border.
American Civil Liberties Union lawyer James Lyall argues, “Interior checkpoints fundamentally fly in the face of what it means to live in a free society, where you don’t have to answer to federal agents when you’re going about your daily business.”
The Supreme Court ruled that Border Patrol agents at these checkpoints can “conduct brief stops for the limited purpose of verifying residence status” but cannot “conduct searches of individuals or the interior of their vehicles.” But the experience of members of my staff and videos on YouTube show that
Border Patrol agents do exactly that. They often demand answers to lots of questions and search cars, too.
To read more click here.
Protesters crawled under a Border Patrol vehicle to stop agents from transporting a driver who was taken into custody for being in the U.S. without documentation, the Tuscon News Now reports.
The incident happened at 2:45 p.m. when Tucson police pulled over a driver for making an improper turn.
Saying the driver had no license to drive a car and was illegally in the U.S., police contacted Border Patrol, which sent an unmarked SUV to take the driver into custody.
Protesters arrived soon after, with two of them crawling under the SUV.
They were pulled out.
To the Honorable Members of the Senate and House of Representatives:
My name is Jay Dobyns. In January of this year, I retired from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms after twenty-seven years of decorated service.
Today is the six-year anniversary of the arson of my home. My wife and two children were inside when the fire was set. They were lucky to escape and survive, although my home and all of our belongings were destroyed by that criminal act.
Leading up to that conclusive and somewhat predictable event, my family and I had already endured years and dozens of credible and validated death and violence threats issued from violent crime suspects and based on my work as an ATF Agent. Each time those events were summarily dismissed by ATF’s leadership as unworthy of attention.
After investigating the August 10, 2008, arson, two of the nation’s leading arson investigators determined that I was not involved. ATF’s leadership, both nationally and locally, ignored the determinations of their own experts and maliciously pursued me as the sole suspect, implicitly categorizing me as an ATF agent willing to murder his own family by fire. The managers and executives involved were known to be corrupt, despised by ATF agents, and among those who planned and implemented ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious.
Those mangers ignored real-time investigative leads and true suspects while instead illegally recording my telephone calls and attempting to gather intelligence on me. None was to be found because I was not involved and innocent. One of ATF’s investigators, an Agent trusted to investigate the Olympic Park bombing, the Oklahoma City bombing, the Columbine High School massacre, the 9/11 terrorist attack and countless other crime scenes told ATF – “I’ve investigated Jay, he’s clean, let me go find the people who did this.”
ATF’s manager George Gillett (of Fast and Furious infamy) immediately removed that agent and his partner from the case. Their investigation did not fit his agenda.
ATF intentionally scuttled their investigation before contaminating a hand-off to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Under the guidance of the Department of Justice, the most flagrant destruction of one federal agent’s career and reputation ever publicly known took place. Now six years later the trail has gone cold and the real arsonist(s) remain at large having attempted to murder a federal agent and his family without pursuit.
When that conduct was challenged in court, both agencies used every tactic available to them, some illegal, some merely unethical and despicable, to cover-up their conduct. Attorneys for the government were fired for their actions in this case; their bad acts never acknowledged or remedied. The unethical tactics used by the government included the destruction and withholding of critical evidence and providing false sworn testimony at depositions and at trial.
The highest levels of leadership at each of these agencies are fully aware of the truth, yet they continue efforts to ensure it is never exposed. That is the system now firmly entrenched at the United States Department of Justice and at ATF – do anything necessary to do to keep your job, displace blame onto others, and if you must, hide and misrepresent the facts and truth from public and courtroom examination.
I respect the separation of powers between the legislative and judicial branches defined by our Constitution. As I await the findings of the court with patience and hope, I honor those laws. The truth is going to come out, whether ATF, DOJ, and their leaders Eric Holder and B. Todd Jones, care for it or not.
My biggest disappointment is that facts and evidence revealed during my lawsuit have been publicly available and brought to your attention for a considerable amount of time. Our nation’s elected officials, appointed Justice Department and ATF leaders, mid-level managers, federal prosecutors, and every internal ethics mechanism within those agencies, just doesn’t care.
Those agencies and their leaders have felt no pressure from you on this matter, thus, no inclination to do anything about ATF scuttling the investigation of the attempted murder of an agent and his family, or ATF’s calculated effort to place the crime on my shoulders. I say “ATF” because when ATF managers conduct themselves in this manner and ATF executive leadership becomes aware of it yet fails to enact discipline, terminate employment or refer internal crimes for prosecution, then ATF and those executives own and accept those misdeeds as approved methods of operation.
Fortunately, Congress and the judiciary have the power and authority to correct these wrongs. I have faith and confidence that the court will determine what facts are true and render a fair and appropriate conclusion.
But, where is Congress on this? What more is needed? If federal legislators are waiting for the court to put a bow on this situation for them then, in my opinion, you are not fulfilling your duties and passing the buck by displacing your jobs onto the Judge. Evidence is presently available for your attention and action outside of the pending legal proceedings. The court will do their job. Will you? For six years ATF’s top brass has acted in the very manner that you publicly criticize them for but, Congress has turned their backs to this situation acting in the exact manner you challenge ATF’s leadership for. Attached below is a fraction of the critical information available to you that is not protected by the court. Will you react to it or will hold a double standard; one for your demands of ATF accountability and one for yourselves?
My situation may be unique, in that there was an attempt to murder me and my family, but the nature of cover-up and retaliation that I have suffered is similar to dozens, if not hundreds, of other cases in ATF. As I await the court’s resolution of my case, there are clear and decisive measures that Congress can take now to prevent situations like mine from being repeated. To date, none of those have been implemented, and no hearings have been held. DOJ and ATF have been empowered by your exhaustion for seeking the truth. In their eyes, they have won. They have weathered the storm, out-waiting and out-litigating your inquiries.
Given my situation and in the eyes of my family, friends and respected peers, I cannot allow the excuse of frustration or weariness to prevent me from continuing to address this matter, even in retirement.
As evidence of those agencies unchecked brazenness; in May of 2013, one month before the trial regarding my allegations of failure to assist a threatened employee, I was attacked on a commercial airline flight by gang members who recognized me. ATF, the FBI and DOJ once again failed to conduct even the most elementary investigation of that event ignoring the simplest and most basic investigative procedures that would have quickly resulted in arrests and prosecutions. I assume that that they did not react knowing that this new attack on me was outside the scope of the allegations pending before the court and could not be discussed at trial.
I have done all that I can to seek truth, justice and accountability. I am but one man mostly powerless to force or affect change. Please do your part to ensure that no other government employee, no other lawman or woman anywhere, has to suffer the consequences that I have behind their service to America’s law enforcement missions.
The FBI has copies of the work email account of a fired Ford Motor Co. engineer who is accused of hiding listening devices in the automaker’s conference rooms, the Detroit News reports.
The contents of the email account include files, pictures, drafts, address boxes, contact lists and calendar data of fired Ford engineer Sharon Leach.
“We continue to work with the FBI on this investigation that we initiated and requested assistance on from the FBI,” Ford spokeswoman Susan Krusel said Thursday.
In a previous raid, the FBI has took possession of the 43-year-old’s personal email accounts and searched her home, finding eight secret listening devices, the Detroit News wrote.
Ford fired her in June after she admitted installing the audio equipment.
The FBI has ended its controversial quest to hire a company to grade whether news is positive, neutral or negative, the Washington Times reports.
The bureau abruptly removed the contract solicitation without explanation, and the FBI declined to discuss it.
Journalism ethicists expressed worries about the FBI’s plans to grade news coverage.
“You would certainly worry this could affect access,” Dan Kennedy, a journalism professor for Northeastern University, said. “It might affect the way they’re going to approach your questions, whether they’re going to be extra careful not to make news if you’re on the ‘bad list.’”
Now the FBI is looking for a clipping service but not a grading system.
A Border Patrol agent claims that gang members from Central America are being released into the U.S., Fox News reports.
Agent Chris Cabrera said the federal government is releasing gang members if they have family members in the U.S.
“If they have family in the United States, they’ll release them to the family, even if they’re admitted gang members,” Cabrera explained to Fox News. “We’ve had a couple that had admitted to murders in their home country. They were 17 years old, 16 years old, and the United States government thought it fit to release them to their parents here in the United States.
“Even if he’s a confirmed gang member, a confirmed criminal even by self-admission, we for some reason don’t send them back to their home country, we release them into our country.”
Cabrera blames the release on a “loophole.”
“They found a loophole with the unaccompanied women and children,” Cabrera told Fox News. “We don’t have anywhere to house these women and children and if the child has no family back in his home country, or claims he has no family back in his home country, we have to release him to a parent who is here.”
Two Honduran nationals are accused of violently assaulting a Border Patrol officer near the Rio Grande City in Texas, the Brownsville Heralds reports.
Marco Tulio Avelar-Gomez, 45, and Nelson Dionosio Chavarria-Ramos, 25, face federal charges after the alleged assault.
The Border Patrol agent, whose identity is not being released, approached the men when Chavarria-Ramos punched the agent several times in the face while Avelar-Gomez held the agent down.
The men were spotted and arrested.
Border Patrol is reporting a rise in the number of violent crimes because of an influx of immigrants.
Baseball fans, brace for another wave of disclosures about players accused of using performance-enhancing drugs.
ESPN is reporting that Major League Baseball is urging the DEA to identify the players in an attempt to begin an investigation.
Now the feds are trying to determine how they are going to honor the request after discovering previously undisclosed players suspected of using the drugs by Biogenesis, a clinic accused of providing the concoctions to baseball players.
MLB wants the names to begin disciplining the accused players.
The DEA said it expects more arrests and accusations to surface.
OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST
- Hundreds Attend Funeral for Slain Border Patrol Agent Vega Jr.
- FBI Investigates How Bank Robbery Suspect Was Subdued by Police
- Is Justice Department Closer to Stepping Up Scrutiny on Wall Street?
- The FBI Warns of ‘Virtual Kidnapping’ Scam in South Texas
- Former FBI Agent Says ‘Deep Dive’ Review Needed of Denver Jails
The FBI’s argument for resisting an inmate’s Freedom of Information Act request is “transparently implausible,” a federal judge said in admonishing the bureau, the Sacramento Bee reports.
The FBI made the bizarre argument that the “FOIA request need not be disclosed because they reside on two CDs and a thumb drive.”
The FOIA requests by Gregory Bartko, who is serving prison time for conspiracy, mail fraud and selling unregistered securities, seek records involving the federal prosecutor who handled his case.
U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg said the FBI must turn over the documents.
“The Bureau’s rationale seems to be that the electronic media in question are not ‘records’ for FOIA purposes because they are physical items that were presented to prosecutors as evidence,” Boasberg wrote. “Why this reasoning would exclude CDs that hold documents in digital form but not, say, the printer paper that will eventually hold this Opinion is beyond the Court.”
“In any case,” Boasberg continued, “no sophistry is necessary here, as Congress, with commendable technological foresight, amended FOIA in 1996 to cover records ‘maintained by an agency in any format, including an electronic format.’”
While visiting the bureau’s St. Louis office, FBI Director James Comey pledged to help police chiefs in the region combat violent crime, St. Louis Public Radio reports.
St. Louis Metropolitan Police chief Sam Dotson asked for help with chronic gun offenders.
“Missouri, in my opinion, has some of the more lax gun laws of all the 50 states,” Dotson said. ”So when we encounter individuals that consistently use fire arms to commit crimes, can the FBI help us develop cases that we can take to the U.S. attorney and get prosecution on a different level and keep the community safe?”
Comey said the field office plans to help.
Comey was visiting the office as part of a planned tour of all 56 of the agency’s field offices.
The visits, he said, are used to “both learn about how it’s going and to talk to my partners, especially to say what are we doing well here, what can we do differently; are there things I can take from this community and try to spread elsewhere.”
Two gunmen accused of murdering an off-duty Border Patrol agent in front of his family during a fishing trip in Texas are expected to soon be charged in connection with a series of robberies and carjackings at secluded fishing spots in Cameron County, Fox News reports.
The man are believed to be tied to the Gulf Cartel.
Gustavo Tijerina, 30, and Ismael Hernandez, 40, were charged Tuesday in the murder of Javier Vega Jr. in Willacy County. They also were charged with the attempted murder of Vega’s father, who was shot in the hip.
Border Patrol released this statement on Wednesday:
“Words cannot express our sorrow for the loss of our brother, when we lose one of our own, it feels as if we’ve lost a beloved member of our own family,” said Chief Patrol Agent Kevin Oaks. “I wish to express to his family and friends my deepest condolences. May the peace that comes from the memories of the time you shared together, comfort you now and in the difficult days ahead.
“Prior to joining the Border Patrol, Agent Vega served his country as a Marine. His service in the Marine Corps and in the Border Patrol is a true testament to the type of man he was. His character, work ethic and desire to help others are commendable. His death is not only a loss for RGV Sector and the U.S. Border Patrol, but for our entire community.
“The Kingsville Station is at a loss,” said Kingsville Station Acting Patrol Agent in Charge Arnold Perez. “Not only did Javier strive to be the best agent and K-9 handler, but he also made it a point to develop and truly care about his friendships.”
“In the days that have followed this devastating loss, the impact has been immediate and sorrowful. In the many comments and thoughts expressed by those who knew him best, his family and friends were an obvious priority and focus in his life. His co-workers say he was a good man, devoted to his family, particularly his wife, Paola, and sons, Javier Vega III, Jiovanni, and Jarod. He was a beloved son and brother, and had a passion for life.”
A TSA employee is accused of trying to solicit sex with a mother and her young daughter on Craigslist, the San Francisco Gate reports.
George Hristovski, 54, of Sacramento, faces federal child pornography charges after a sheriff’s investigator spotted an ad seeking a mother and daughter for sex.
The investigator posed as a 30-year-old woman with a 13-year-old daughter. The two exchanged dozens of emails.
Hristovski, an inspector, also thought he was emailing the 13-year-old girl, whom he tried to solicit sexual information and photos, authorities said.
The TSA suspended Hristovski.
“TSA holds its employees to the highest ethical standards and expects all TSA employees to conduct themselves with integrity and professionalism,” said TSA spokesman Ross Feinstein. “These alleged crimes are egregious and intolerable.”
OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST
- Homeland Security Contractor Reports Computer Breach in System
- Homeland Security Spending $450,000 on Gym Memberships
- FBI: Couple Intimidated Developmentally Disabled Man for Money
- Former FBI Agent Helps Denver Institute Reforms at Sheriff’s Department
- FBI Pursues New Leads in 25-Year Disappearance Case