Although Homeland Security has received $47 million to prepare for potential pandemics, federal authorities are far from ready and properly trained, according to a federal audit, the Washington Post reports.
The Homeland Security inspector general found numerous problems, including the imminent expiration of antiviral drugs and a failure to find personal protective gear.
“A severe influenza pandemic presents a tremendous challenge, which may affect millions of Americans, cause significant illnesses and fatalities, and substantially disrupt our economic and social stability,” the report said. “It is DHS’s responsibility to ensure it is adequately prepared to continue critical operations in the event of a pandemic.”
The audit found that 81% of the department’s antiviral drugs are set to expire next year.
Other Stories of Interest
- ATF to Unveil Model Re-Creation of Deadly Waco Standoff
- Bank Robbery Suspect Dies After Exchanging Gunfire with Task Force
- Discovery of Secret Justice Department Documents Prompts Probe
- Mexican Immigrant Dies in Border Patrol Detention Center in Texas
- DEA Allows Pharmacies to Accept Unwanted Prescription Drugs
The FBI was able to get a United Airlines flight to turn around mid-flight from Washington Dulles International Airport to Beijing to arrest a passenger accused of parental kidnapping, the Washington Post reports.
The mother, Wenking Liu, was arrested Thursday evening at Dulles International Airport, where the plan returned.
Liu was charged with unlawfully attempting to remover her son from the U.S. with intent to obstruct the lawful exercise of parental rights.
The boy’s father reported the kidnapping, prompting agents to urge the airline to turn the flight around.
How could 22-year-old Victor White III fatally shoot himself while handcuffed in the back of a police car in New Iberia, La.?
The Louisiana State Police completed its investigation of the unusual case, but the 16th Judicial District Attorney Phil Haney said his office will await the results of a separate FBI probe, The Town Talk reports.
“We’re going to reach out to the family through their attorney,” he said.
Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal said he sympathized with White and his family.
“In my opinion, this was a tragic loss of life and it is difficult to understand why it happened,” Ackal said in a statement.
White was in the back of a police car after being arrested March 2 for possession of marijuana and cocaine when police said he shot himself in the chest.
Family members are suspicious, finding it difficult to believe that White managed to shoot himself in the chest while handcuffed and after being searched by police.
A senior Justice Department lawyer who has been a key proponent of President Obama’s initiatives has been named to the department’s No. 3 post, becoming the highest-ranking openly gay official to ever serve the department, the New York Times reports.
Stuart F. Delery is replacing Tony West, who announced his departure last week, and will handle civil rights and environmental cases, among other issues. Delery may be best known for his role in overturning the federal ban on same-sex marriage. “Stuart has helped to strengthen our nation’s security, to protect public health and safety, and to achieve justice in cases of financial fraud and recover billions of dollars for taxpayers,” Mr. Holder said in a statement.
“I can think of no more dedicated, more capable, or more passionate public servant to continue the duties, and uphold the high standards, that defined Tony West’s time in office.”
The U.S. Border Patrol is urging the state of Texas and militia members to leave immigration issues to the pros, the Associated Press reports.
The plea comes after the influx of migrants prompted state Gov. Rick Perry to send as many as 1,000 guardsman and hundreds of state troopers to the border. Militia members also took up guard.
Everyone is heavily armed, and coordination is minimal.
The Border Patrol recently had a friendly fire incident involving a militia member.
“Sometimes it can be dangerous, because you have all these (non-law enforcement) people out there running around the border,” said Kevin Oaks, the Border Patrol’s chief in the Rio Grande Valley. “There are cartel members that carry assault weapons and camouflage, and then there’s others that may be under the auspices of whatever group, may look very similar, and we have no idea who those people are. My fear is that these things clash and eventually there will be a very bad outcome.”
A plan to modernize Border Patrol’s busiest facility includes $500,000 for new art in San Diego, the Weekly Standard reports.
The San Ysidro Land Port of entry, which handles traffic between San Diego and the Tijuana region, is undergoing $735 million in upgrades.
The artwork is part of the third phase of the project, which spans more than a decade.
The GSA recently began soliciting contractors, including artists.
The spending is in line with the GSA’s “Art in Architecture” program, which calls for one-half of one percent of construction expenses to be spent on artwork.
The federal government is accepting registration from artists until Oct. 6.
Other Stories of Interest
- Former Homeland Security Director Calls ISIS ‘Ruthless Enemy’
- Three FBI Veterans to Take New Assistant Director Roles
- FBI Continues to Investigate County Executive in Michigan
- Few Central American Arrests Being Made At U.S. Boder
- FBI Divulges How It Pinpointed Silk Road’s Server
The FBI is searching for a Northeastern University graduate who is accused of trying to recruit ISIS members using social media, WHDH reports.
Ahmad Abousamra, who is believed to be in Syria, has been added to the FBI’s met wanted terrorist list.
Authorities fear Abousamra may be waging an aggressive social media campaign with his background in communications.
Abousamra received training in Yemen and Pakistan to kill Americans, the FBI said.
“We have concerns that Ahmad Abousamra is still pursuing his desire to fight United States soldiers,” an FBI agent said.
In 2009, Abousamra was indicted on charges of conspiring with Al Qaeda.
A former FBI special agent and his wife admitted they hid income from the IRS.
Pritesh Desai, 47, and his wife Darshna Desai, 45, both of Watchung, N.J., pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to defraud the IRS in federal court in Trenton, NJ.com reports.
The couple is accused of hiding income from their part-ownership of a Piscataway pharmacy.
Desai was a special agent in the New York Field Office at the time of his resignation in July 2013.
The couple is accused of conspiring with each other to hide cash income from June 204 to june 2012.
A few numbers indicate a civil rights investigation of the Ferguson Police Department is long overdue. On Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the Department of Justice will begin such an inquiry. This is an important and positive step forward, but we suspect when he gets into the numbers, and examines the reality of North St. Louis County, Ferguson will play but a small role in a larger investigation.
First, those numbers:
• As we noted Aug. 10, the day after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, blacks in Ferguson were 37 percent more likely to be pulled over in 2013 than whites, as a percentage of their respective populations. Those black drivers who were pulled over were twice as likely to be searched for contraband, such as drugs, than white drivers, even though police found contraband, percentage-wise, more often in the cars of white drivers.
• In a city that is two-thirds black, only three of its 53 police officers are black.
• And this, from a recent report from Arch City Defenders: “Despite Ferguson’s relative poverty, fines and court fees comprise the second largest source of revenue for the city, a total of $2,635,400. In 2013, the Ferguson Municipal Court disposed of 24,532 warrants and 12,018 cases, or about 3 warrants and 1.5 cases per household.”
None of these things, on their own, are proof positive of institutional racism or civil rights violations. But together, they help paint a picture that explains why tens of thousands of African-Americans in the St. Louis region have taken to the streets in anger, not just over the shooting of a black teenager by a white police officer, but over years of being subject to different rules when dealing with the justice system partly, if not mostly, because of the color of their skin.
To read more click here.
The FBI is investigating a tense encounter between the U.S. Border Patrol and an armed militia man, the Valley Morning Star reports.
An agent is accused of firing several shorts at what turned out to be a militia member on private property.
The incident happened while Border Patrol agents were chasing immigrants near Brownsville and spotted the man holding a gun.
An FBI spokeswoman confirmed the FBI is reviewing the cases, which had not been investigated by the Cameron County Sheriff’s Office.
Former Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, who had been mentioned as a vice presidential candidate at one time, was convicted Thursday in U.S. District Court in Richmond, Va., along with his wife Maureen, of public corruption and selling the office to a free spending Richmond businessman for golf outings, lavish vacations and $120,000 in sweetheart loans, the Washington Post reported.
Matt Zapotosky and Rosalind S. Helderman of the Post reported that a federal jury deliberated three days before serving up the verdict. Robert McDonnell was convicted of 11 counts and his wife, nine.
The jury also acquitted the couple of several charges.
The Post wrote:
The verdict means that Robert McDonnell, who was already the first governor in Virginia history to be charged with a crime, now he holds an even more unwanted distinction: the first ever to be convicted of one. He and his wife face decades in federal prison, though their actual sentence will probably fall well short of that.
A Colombian national pleaded guilty in the slaying of DEA Agent James “Terry” Watson, who was stabbed to death in Columbia, the Associated Press reports.
Julio Estiven Garcia Ramiez, one of seven Colombians extradited to the U.S. for charges connected to the murder of the 43-year-old agent, pleaded guilty Wednesday to aiding and abetting the murder of an internationally protected person.
Ramirez was in federal court in Alexandria, where he will be sentenced Dec. 5.
Authorities say Watson was in Columbia when the defendants posed as taxi drivers in an attempt to rob him.
Other Stories of Interest
- Former FBI Agent to Get $80K for Helping with Sheriff Reforms
- Boeing Engineer Arrested on Child Pornography Charges
- Search Is on Knife-Wielding Woman Who Robbed New Orleans Bank
- FBI Investigating Youtube Videos Posted by Former Mayor’s Son
- DOJ Pays Thousands of Employees to Do Union Work on Taxpayers’ Dime
FBI agent Joshua Skule has been named special agent in charge of the FBI’s Intelligence Division at the Washington Field Office (WFO). He most recently served as a deputy assistant director (DAD) in the Counterterrorism Division (CTD) at FBI headquarters.
Skule began his career as a special agent with the FBI in 1998. He was first assigned to the Chicago Division, where he investigated violent crimes and public corruption, the FBI said in a press release.
In 2008, he was promoted to a unit chief in CTD, where he was responsible for counterterrorism investigations within the United States.
A year later, he was selected as assistant section chief in CTD. In 2011, he was appointed to serve as assistant special agent in charge of the Criminal Division at the Washington Field Office.
In 2012, he was appointed to serve as a section chief in CTD, and one year later, he was promoted to DAD.
Wall Street won’t be sad to see Tony West go.
The highest-ranking prosecutor who gained more than $30 billion in settlements from Wall Street banks plans to leave the public sector, the New York Times reports.
West, who is the No. 3 Justice Department officials, plans to leave Sept. 15.
The New York Times reports that West is headed to the private sector, but it wasn’t immediately clear what he’ll be doing.
West, 49, hired Robert B. Barnett, a career counselor with a remarkable client list that includes President Clinton and Bob Woodward, to help him land a job.
“Over the years, Tony’s efforts have made a tremendous and lasting difference in the lives of millions of people across the country,” Mr. Holder said in a statement. “And although I wish him the best as he opens an exciting new chapter in his career, I will miss his leadership, his many contributions, and his steadfast commitment to the cause of justice.”
Before his car drifted across the road and crashed last week, former FBI Director Louis Freeh likely fell asleep and won’t be cited.
ABC News reports that Freeh can’t recall why his car crashed in Barnard, VT.
Investigators said they won’t know for sure what caused the accident, but evidence points to him falling asleep. Drugs and alcohol were not a factor, investigators said.
No brake or swerve marks were spotted on the road.
Freeh, 64, was seriously injured in the crash and was airlifted to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire.
The hospital declined to release his condition Wednesday.
Rumors of substandard treatment of migrant children caught crossing the border have been overstated, according to federal inspectors.
The Arizona Republic reports that no evidence was found of children being forced to sleep in freezing-col holding cells without blankets.
The government was unable to confirm other reports, including that toilets ere filthy and food and drinking water was hard to come by.
Several groups, including the ACLU and National Immigrant Justice Center, launched numerous complaints about the conditions.
But investigators couldn’t substantiate those conditions, according to Homeland Security’s Inspector General.
A Utah man really wanted the FBI’s attention.
Robert Zickella, 49, is accused of calling the FBI in St. George at least 112 times over several days, threatening agents and threatening to blow up the bureau’s office, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.
Zickella is being held in the Purgatory Correctional Facility on a $10,000 bond
What remains unclear is why Zickella threatened the FBI and hounded agents.
The FBI is joining Reno Police to investigate a string of fake ransom calls targeting doctors with daughters.
KTVN reports that someone has been calling doctors in the area, saying their daughter has been kidnapped and will be mutilated or killed if ransom wasn’t paid.
“That was the worst experience of my life,” said Dr. Louis Bonaldi, who received one of the calls at his office. “For somebody else to go through that, to have that feeling, I couldn’t work after that. I was an emotional basket case.”
The caller even placed a girl on the phone who sounded like his daughter.
Police began to get similar complaints from other Reno-area doctors.
“Today, the Reno office of the FBI, along with the Reno Police Department received several reports from some local physicians who had indicated they received a phone call,” said Special Agent Christopher Johnson of the FBI. “Looking into this matter, we were able to learn that all the daughters of these physicians are safe and accounted for.”
A former police chief in Indiana is accused of using his badge to buy police-issued guns and sell them privately, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
The FBI and ATF are investigating, local police confirmed.
“We have been fully cooperating with federal agencies over the last month,” Acting Chief Tony Frencl said.
Police in early July leveled allegations against Police Chief Steven Sibbrell, saying he was responsible for a variety of misconduct, including watching pornography on his PD computer.
Other grievances included using foul language, conducing traffic stops in unmarked cars and sleeping in his office.