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Archive for June 24th, 2013

FBI Wants to Use a Humorous Video For Advanced-Intelligence Classes

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Under the category of the unusual comes this: The FBI has asked the IFC sketch comedy show “Portlandia” for rights to use a clip from the program in its advanced intelligence training classes, according to Marketplace Punchline.

The website cites the Hollywood Reporter:

In April, an instructor at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., approached the producers of Portlandia, requesting to use a clip from the show’s “Sanitation Twins” sketch (it spoofs recycling culture) in its advanced-intelligence classes, which focus on terrorism, espionage, IP theft and other crime.

Market Place writes:

The clip features co-stars Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen dressed up as sanitation workers demonstrating how to sort recycling into no less than 20 different color-coded bins. Blue for cardboard, black for aluminum, yellow for yardwaste…cobalt for finger nails and egg shells.

The website writes:

Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio suggests the clip is a useful caution against complexity, that too many categories equals stupid.

 

FBI Is Scanning Driver’s License Images to Make Potential Matches

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is scouring state databases of driver’s license photos to search for face matches of criminals, WND reports.

“A probe photo refers to the photo of the subject of an active FBI investigation that is submitted for search against a photo repository,” states the FBI’s agreement with Illinois, which is nearly identical to agreements with other states.

“The anticipated result of that search will be a photo gallery of potential matches. These potential matches (candidates) will be forwarded to the FBI, along with any associated information stored with the photo.”

The database allows the FBI to use facial recognition systems.

Opinion: FBI Is Disingenuous in Report About Agent-Involved Shootings

By The Central Florida Future
Editorial 

According to Federal Bureau of Investigation documentation obtained via a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the New York Times, the FBI has been found justified in 150 shootings of subjects from 1993 to 2011. Of said shootings, 70 were fatal.

“The FBI takes very seriously any shooting incidents involving our agents, and as such we have an effective, time-tested process for addressing them internally,” a Bureau spokesperson said.

If that is truly the case, then in the nearly two decades of documentation in which this investigation delved into, there must have been at least some instance of misconduct by federal officers.

Rank and title mean nothing in this case. Federal officers, despite propaganda, are human. As such, they make mistakes; it’s absurd to even insinuate the idea that in almost 20 years, not a single error was made in a shooting incident involving a federal officer. It’s as if the Bureau thinks we are gullible sheep, blindly herded by its voices and actions. The FBI has done us a disservice; it has decided we are not deserving of the truth.

To read more click here.

Two ex-Border Patrol Agents Sentenced to At Least 30 Years for Massive Human Smuggling Ring

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Two former Border Patrol agents were sentenced to at least 30 years in prison for operating a massive human smuggling ring, the Associated Press reports.

Federal District Judge John A. Houston sentenced Raul Villarreal, the ring leader, to 35 years in prison Friday; his brother Fidel Villarreal was sentenced to 30 years in prison for managing the business.

Houston said he issued the stiff penalties to send a message to other federal agents protecting the border.

The men were assisted by a corrupt police officer in Tijuana, Mexico, according to the AP.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

 

MLB May Never Eliminate Steroid Problem, But It Has Come a Long Way to Substantially Reducing It

This column first appeared in the New York Daily News on June 22. 

istock photo

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

In August 1994, I was attending an FBI sports presentation conference. The bureau has a program where trained agents make presentations to college and professional sports teams regarding illegal sports gambling and other topics. Representatives from the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and NCAA were on hand as well, and attendees were made aware of an article I had recently written for the FBI magazine about an undercover operation (named Equine) that targeted illegal steroid distribution. Copies of the article were distributed at the conference.

One evening over some beers, some of the attendees were discussing steroids and their use by players in various sports. I told Kevin Hallinan, then the head of MLB security, that myself and fellow agent, Bill Randall, had learned through the Equine case that a dealer we prosecuted had told us he’d been supplying some MLB players with steroids. I also mentioned to Hallinan that the dealer believed steroid use in MLB was widespread and becoming a bigger problem. One of the players the dealer mentioned was Jose Canseco, then with the A’s.

Hallinan said he had heard reports of steroid use by players, but he didn’t think MLB could do much about it. Baseball was in the midst of trying to resolve a debilitating strike (which would end in 1995), there was no drug-testing program and it would be a full decade before players began being tested for performance-enhancing drug use. Hallinan did not express any interest in talking to the dealer or following up on the information.

The time frame of the FBI conference fell smack in the middle of baseball’s infamous “steroid era,” with such iconic events as the 1998 home run derby between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire, which culminated with McGwire breaking Roger Maris’ single-season home run record. These long-ball extravaganzas were putting fans back in the seats, but the cost was the integrity of the game.

In the early 2000s, there were revelations of steroid/PED use by players, including Ken Caminiti’s 2002 interview with Sports Illustrated, in which he speculated about widespread doping. Congressional hearings followed in 2005 and 2008, the latter featuring seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens pitted against his former trainer, Brian McNamee. Both Clemens and home run king Barry Bonds were tried in criminal trials, Bonds getting convicted on one count, and Clemens being acquitted of all charges. MLB was on the defensive and initially didn’t react well. But that has changed; MLB has taken the initiative and gained the support of the Players Association in the fight against PEDs. They’ve instituted rigorous testing protocols in their drug-testing program, including taking blood samples to test for human growth hormone.

In my view, more importantly, they are not relying on testing alone to ferret out drug use by players. When a Miami New Times report named numerous major leaguers’ PED links to the Miami anti-aging clinic, Biogenesis, MLB attempted to identify the players and get specific information from the newspaper. MLB also sent investigators to Florida and filed a civil suit against Biogenesis, its founder and several others in order to subpoena their records. It appears their aggressive efforts are about to bear fruit. MLB has reportedly convinced Anthony Bosch, the owner of Biogenesis, to name names and supply records. Players could ultimately be suspended, and it appears that the Players Association is in full support of baseball’s efforts.

You would think the baseball commentators and writers would be supportive, too. After all, a few years ago they were chastising MLB for having ignored the PED issue and not taking stronger action. Now, some pundits have said baseball has lost its “war on drugs,” and the large number of players apparently getting steroids from Biogenesis proves it. I would argue that MLB’s dogged efforts and apparent success in identifying the players linked to Biogenesis shows it is beginning to win the war.

I have never been in favor of criminal prosecution of players. They are nothing more than high-profile users. I think MLB is right to aggressively pursue the identification of PED users and then apply the appropriate sanctions. (The standard of proof in an administrative action is considerably lower than in a criminal prosecution.)

Although I warned MLB about the steroid problem almost 19 years ago, and I was concerned that it seemed to ignore the problem, I now commend MLB’s aggressive efforts to continue to rid baseball of performance-enhancing drug use. MLB may never totally eradicate the problem, but it has gone a long way in substantially reducing use. The other professional leagues and the NCAA should take note.

I think Abraham Lincoln’s words are appropriate: “I walk slowly, but I never walk backward.”

 

Column: MLB May Never Eliminate Steroid Problem, But It Has Come a Long Way to Substantially Reducing It

Greg Stejskal served as an FBI agent for 31 years and retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office. His column first appeared in the New York Daily on June 22.

Greg Stejskal

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

In August 1994, I was attending an FBI sports presentation conference. The bureau has a program where trained agents make presentations to college and professional sports teams regarding illegal sports gambling and other topics. Representatives from the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and NCAA were on hand as well, and attendees were made aware of an article I had recently written for the FBI magazine about an undercover operation (named Equine) that targeted illegal steroid distribution. Copies of the article were distributed at the conference.

One evening over some beers, some of the attendees were discussing steroids and their use by players in various sports. I told Kevin Hallinan, then the head of MLB security, that myself and fellow agent, Bill Randall, had learned through the Equine case that a dealer we prosecuted had told us he’d been supplying some MLB players with steroids. I also mentioned to Hallinan that the dealer believed steroid use in MLB was widespread and becoming a bigger problem. One of the players the dealer mentioned was Jose Canseco, then with the A’s.

Hallinan said he had heard reports of steroid use by players, but he didn’t think MLB could do much about it. Baseball was in the midst of trying to resolve a debilitating strike (which would end in 1995), there was no drug-testing program and it would be a full decade before players began being tested for performance-enhancing drug use. Hallinan did not express any interest in talking to the dealer or following up on the information.

The time frame of the FBI conference fell smack in the middle of baseball’s infamous “steroid era,” with such iconic events as the 1998 home run derby between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire, which culminated with McGwire breaking Roger Maris’ single-season home run record. These long-ball extravaganzas were putting fans back in the seats, but the cost was the integrity of the game.

In the early 2000s, there were revelations of steroid/PED use by players, including Ken Caminiti’s 2002 interview with Sports Illustrated, in which he speculated about widespread doping. Congressional hearings followed in 2005 and 2008, the latter featuring seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens pitted against his former trainer, Brian McNamee. Both Clemens and home run king Barry Bonds were tried in criminal trials, Bonds getting convicted on one count, and Clemens being acquitted of all charges. MLB was on the defensive and initially didn’t react well. But that has changed; MLB has taken the initiative and gained the support of the Players Association in the fight against PEDs. They’ve instituted rigorous testing protocols in their drug-testing program, including taking blood samples to test for human growth hormone.

In my view, more importantly, they are not relying on testing alone to ferret out drug use by players. When a Miami New Times report named numerous major leaguers’ PED links to the Miami anti-aging clinic, Biogenesis, MLB attempted to identify the players and get specific information from the newspaper. MLB also sent investigators to Florida and filed a civil suit against Biogenesis, its founder and several others in order to subpoena their records. It appears their aggressive efforts are about to bear fruit. MLB has reportedly convinced Anthony Bosch, the owner of Biogenesis, to name names and supply records. Players could ultimately be suspended, and it appears that the Players Association is in full support of baseball’s efforts.

istock photo

You would think the baseball commentators and writers would be supportive, too. After all, a few years ago they were chastising MLB for having ignored the PED issue and not taking stronger action. Now, some pundits have said baseball has lost its “war on drugs,” and the large number of players apparently getting steroids from Biogenesis proves it. I would argue that MLB’s dogged efforts and apparent success in identifying the players linked to Biogenesis shows it is beginning to win the war.

I have never been in favor of criminal prosecution of players. They are nothing more than high-profile users. I think MLB is right to aggressively pursue the identification of PED users and then apply the appropriate sanctions. (The standard of proof in an administrative action is considerably lower than in a criminal prosecution.)

Although I warned MLB about the steroid problem almost 19 years ago, and I was concerned that it seemed to ignore the problem, I now commend MLB’s aggressive efforts to continue to rid baseball of performance-enhancing drug use. MLB may never totally eradicate the problem, but it has gone a long way in substantially reducing use. The other professional leagues and the NCAA should take note.

I think Abraham Lincoln’s words are appropriate: “I walk slowly, but I never walk backward.”

 

NSA Leaker Missing Today After Failing to Board Plane from Russia to Cuba

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Edward J. Snowden was supposed to leave Moscow today for a flight to Havana. He never arrived.

U.S. authorities were trying to determine this morning whether the former national security contractor accused of espionage has made alternative travel plans or whether Russian leaders took him into custody, The New York Times reports.

Secretary of State John Kerry urged Russian officials to extradite Snowden.

“I would urge them to live by the standards of the law,” Kerry said.

WikiLeaks is helping Snowden escape.

FBI’s Corrupt Dealings with Winter Hill Gang to be Focus of ‘Whitey’ Bulger Trial Today

 

Updated Bulger photo/wbur

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

As the murder and racketeering trial of mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger continues today, a former FBI supervisor is expected to testify that he and another agent traded secrets with the ruthless White Hill Gang, Reuters reports.

John Morris, who led the FBI’s local organized crime squad in Boston in the 1970s and ’80s, helped gang members avoid arrest and threatened so-called rats.

On Friday, the jury heard other testimony of the FBI’s double-dealing.

Morris was granted immunity in 1998 in exchange for his testimony about FBI agents who assisted Bulger during the Winter Hill Gang