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Homeland Security Department Struggles Under Trump, Inspector General Warns

Homeland Security helicopter, via Homeland Security.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Department of Homeland Security under President Trump is struggling to execute its mission to keep the nation safe because it lacks a permanent leader, a cohesive plan and sufficient staffing, the agency’s inspector general warned in a new report.

Last week, Chad Wolf became the fifth leader of the federal government’s third-largest agency. It’s not a permanent job because he’s been named as acting secretary.

In fact, nearly one-third of the senior leadership positions are filled by “acting” officials, according to the report, which was released Monday.

“Unfortunately, many of these senior leadership positions continue to suffer from a lack of permanent, presidentially appointed and Senate-confirmed officials,” Inspector General Joseph Cuffari wrote.

The agency also has a work environment “marked by high attrition, changing mandates and difficulties implementing permanent plans, procedures and programs,” the report states.

The agency’s failure to hire an adequate amount of employees has been “exacerbated” since Trump became president.

“Since its inception, DHS has had difficulties ensuring it can expeditiously hire and retain highly qualified workers,” the report states. “This situation is exacerbated by changes and vacancies in senior leadership, which are often beyond DHS’ control.”

Trump has struggled to retain rank-and-file employees and leadership because of his intense focus on immigration. Homeland Security was created, in large part, to combat terrorism after 9/11.


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Black ATF Agent Settles Lawsuit Involving Supervisor with Nazi Tattoo

ATF Agent Bradford Devlin with a Nazi-themed tattoo, via U.S. District Court.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A black ATF supervisor will receive $450,000 to settle a lawsuit in which she claims the agency discriminated against her after she launched complaints about another supervisor with a Nazi-themed tattoo.

Cheryl Bishop, a senior supervisor agent in Seattle and former bomb-dog handler, alleged in the 2018 suit that the agency scuttled her appointment to a job at Washington D.C.’s headquarters after she blew the whistle on abusive behavior by Agent Bradford Devlin.

ATF settled the case before it was set to go to a seven-day trial this month.

In addition to the payout, Bishop will receive a private meeting with the agency’s director and get a ring commemorating her time as the first female member of ATF’s Special Response Team, the Seattle Times reports.

Devlin, who is now the senior supervisor in ATF’s Seattle Field Division, denied being abusive and says he got the Nazi tattoo while working undercover investigating an outlaw white-supremacist biker gang in Ohio.

Although the agency offered to pay for the removal of the tattoo, Devlin decided to keep it, calling it a “war trophy.”

“While I am grateful to put the lawsuit behind me, healing the emotional scars will take more time,” Bishop said in a prepared statement. “What happened to me should never happen to anyone, anywhere. Since harassment, discrimination, and retaliation are alive and well, I encourage anyone who encounters them to speak out — that’s the only way change happens.”


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Mueller’s Secret Grand Jury Materials Sought in Impeachment Trials

Special counsel Robert Mueller. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Much of evidence collected during special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has remained secret, but that could change as the impeachment inquiry continues.

On Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit is expected to consider whether the grand-jury materials from the investigation should be released to the House Judiciary Committee.

The three-member panel is set to consider a lower-court’s ruling that called for the release of evidence that the House Committee says is critical to determining whether President Trump should be impeached, The Washington Post reports.

The Justice Department argues the redacted materials cited in the Mueller report should not be released because the impeachment proceeding are not “judicial.”

House lawyers argued in court filings that the material is important to “aid the House in determining whether the President committed impeachable offenses, including attempted obstruction of the Special Counsel’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election and solicitation of Ukrainian interference in the 2020 Presidential election.”


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FBI Celebrates First Black Agent Hired 100 Years Ago

FBI Director Christopher Wray and John Glover. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Most people have never heard of James Wormley Jones.

The son of former slaves, Jones was 35 years old when he became the first black FBI agent 100 years ago.

There are no known pictures of him. He’s just a footnote in American history.

“There should be books written about James Wormley Jones,” said John Glover, who became the FBI’s highest-ranking black special agent before retiring in 1989.

Jones served in the Army’s regiment, Buffalo Soldiers, during World War I and was a police officer in Washington D.C.

In 1919, Jones was appointed to what was then the Bureau of Investigations. That same year, more than 100 black people were lynched during the Red Summer, Glover said at an event celebrating 100 years of African American special agents.

During the event, dubbed “Our History, Our Service,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said “diversity remains one of our top priorities here at the FBI.”

Today, 11.3% of the FBI’s employees are black.

“It’s true that we’ve made progress over the past century in the area of diversity, both as a nation and as an organization,” Wray said. “But we’ve got to constantly ask ourselves, ‘Where do we want to be another century from now?’”


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Weekend Series on Crime History: The Iran-Contra Affair


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FBI’s $1B Investment in State-of-the-Art Campus in Alabama to Create Thousands of Jobs, New Technology

FBI rendering of one of the bureau’s new buildings at Redstone Arsenal.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI’s $1 billion investment on a new state-of-the-art campus in Huntsville is expected to add thousand of new jobs and six new buildings for the bureau.

“We really look at it like a HQ2, a backup for the footprint that we have here in Washington, D.C.,” Paul Abbate, associate deputy director at the FBI, told CNBC in a rare interview. “It’s really the future of the FBI, and it’s all about technology, innovation, talent and resiliency.”

The FBI is making its expansion at Redstone Arsenal, an enormous Army base that leased nearly 1,600 acres to the bureau.

The campus will focus on terrorism, ballistics, explosive devices and even digital threats.

“Our cyberdivision views Huntsville as a current and really future training ground for the tactics, skills expertise that we need in the cyber-realm to work across all the threats we face and put ourselves and our people in the best position to stop that from coming at us,” Abbate said.

About 400 FBI employees currently work at Redstone. The first phase of construction is expected to be finished in 2021 and draw nearly 1,400 bureau employees from the Washington D.C.-area. Over the next decade, an additional 4,000 jobs or more could be added.

The FBI created a webpage to help recruit more employees to the Huntsville area.


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Chad Wolf Becomes 5th Homeland Security Leader under President Trump

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Department of Homeland Security has its fifth leader under President Trump with the appointment of Chad Wolf as acting secretary.

After Wolf was sworn in Thursday, he named immigration hard-liner and acting head of ICE Ken Cuccinelli as his deputy.

Wolf replaces acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, who resigned earlier this month after leading the agency for about six months.

Wolf served as chief of staff under former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

Leading Homeland Security has been no easy task because Trump has demanded a secretary whose focus is clearly on immigration, which is only one part of the multi-faceted agency.


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FBI Study on ‘Lone Offender Terrorism’ Reveals Common Traits Among Attackers

Terrorism exercise in Portland. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A new FBI study examining “lone offender terrorism” found common traits that could help identify future attackers.

Of the 52 examined cases between 1972 and 2015, 83% were carried out by people who had previously exhibited hostility or aggression, according to the 81-page report. In all of the cases, people around the attackers expressed concern over their behavior.

In 96% of the cases, the offender produced a video, blog or letter that was intended to be viewed by others.

“Absent this report and others like it, someone could see something and they’re solely relying on their gut feeling or spider sense to say, ‘That doesn’t look right,’ or ‘That’s concerning,’” Special Agent John Wyman, chief of the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU)’s Behavioral Threat Assessment Center, which conducted the research, said. “I think by putting this information out there, it helps people get over that barrier. It gives you something to fall back on to validate whatever your gut feeling was.”

The study found that half of the cases were motivated by anti-government extremism. Other significant motivators were racial extremism and Islamist violence.

All of the attackers were men, mostly white and a vast majority born in the U.S. Most were single and had free time to focus on the attacks and their grievances.


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