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Archive for December 22nd, 2015

FBI’s Art Crime Team Recovered Record Number of Stolen Items in Second Half of 2015

ArtCrimeTeamLogo1-300x280By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI’s Art Crime Team reported a record number of art and cultural items were returned to their rightful owners in the second half of the year, Courthouse News Service reports. 

The New York-based Art Crime Team was created in 2004 and currently has 16 agents assigned to it.

Since then, the team has recovered more than 2,650 art and cultural items with a value of more than $150 million.

The team has been especially successful in the second half of this year, recovering items such as a Chilean tapestry stolen from a house in Chile and the “Bark Washington” painting that was stolen in 2001.

The FBI compiles a Stolen Art Database.

Other Stories of Interest

Secret Service Agent’s Gun, Badge Stolen, Radio From His Car

secret serviceBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It’s certainly not the first time a federal agent in Washington has had a gun stolen from a car. Still, at this juncture, certainly the Secret Service would prefer to avoid any bad publicity. Unfortunately, this sort of thing happens.

CNN reports that a Secret Service agent’s gun, badge, radio, handcuffs and flash drive were stolen from his personal car during the day Monday near the agency’s headquarters in Washington, according to a police report and sources briefed on the incident. The car had been parked on G Place NW in downtown D.C. around 4 p.m. when the incident happened.

According to CNN, a police report lists the stolen items: A  black Sig Sauer handgun, an APX6000 radio, handcuffs, a USB flash drive, a black Patagonia bag and a Secret Service badge, number 1266.

Lengel: The Terrible Message President Obama is Sending About ATF and the U.S. Marshals Service

president obama- white house photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Imagine if you will, if there was an interim director of the FBI and President Barack Obama announced that he wasn’t going to bother nominating the interim director to a permanent post because he didn’t want to expend the political capital and energy.

Imagine the message that would send: Presumably that the FBI wasn’t worth the trouble, that it wasn’t worth the effort, that it wasn’t really that important of a law enforcement agency.

Well, The Hill newspaper reports that Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that the President wasn’t going to nominate U.S. Marshals Service Acting Director David Harlow nor interim ATF head Thomas Brandon for a Senate confirmation. That means both will be deputy directors.

It not only sends a message to the agencies and its workers that “you’re not that important,” it also sends the same message to lawmakers on Capitol Hill, who set their budgets, and to the public at large.

The U.S. Marshals Service transports prisoners, hunts fugitives and protects federal courthouses and judges. Sounds pretty important to me.

ATF enforces our gun laws and investigates explosions. That also sounds pretty important.

Interestingly, at a time when President Barack Obama is shouting from the mountain tops about the importance of cracking down on gun violence, he’s whispering behind closed doors that ATF, which could help in the battle,  is not a very high priority to him.

President Obama and Attorney General Loretta Lynch need to step up and defend their law enforcement agencies.

It’s the right thing to do.

FBI Director Names New Assistant Director of Counterintelligence Division in Washington D.C.

fbi badgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

E.W. “Bill” Priestap, a 17-year veteran of the FBI, has been named assistant director of the Counterintelligence Division at the bureau’s headquarters in Washington D.C.

Priestap was serving as deputy assistant director of the Intelligence Operations Branch in the Directorate of Intelligence at FBI headquarter.

Priestap began his career with the FBI in 1998, investigating organized crime and drug issues in the Chicago Division. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Priestap handled counterterrorism investigations in Chicago.

Priestap has a long history with the FBI, according to the bureau:

In 2003, Mr. Priestap was promoted to supervisory special agent in the Office of Congressional Affairs (OCA) at FBIHQ. While in OCA, he was detailed to the U.S. Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, where he assisted with the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.

In 2005, Mr. Priestap was appointed the special assistant to the assistant director of the Directorate of Intelligence at FBIHQ.

In 2006, Mr. Priestap was assigned to the New York Field Office, where he held counterterrorism and intelligence supervisory positions. He was then promoted to assistant special agent in charge, and he served in the Intelligence and the Counterintelligence Divisions of the New York Field Office.

In 2012, Mr. Priestap was promoted to section chief in the Counterintelligence Division at FBIHQ, and, in 2013, Mr. Priestap was named special agent in charge of the Counterintelligence Division in the New York Field Office.

Justice And Labor Departments Team Up to Crack Down on Employers with Unsafe Working Conditions

Justice-Department-DanangBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An average of 13 workers die on the job a day, often because of unsafe working conditions.

Now the Justice and Labor Departments are bolstering efforts to crack down on employers who put the lives and health of their workers at risk, Construction & Demolition Recycling reports. 

“On an average day in America, 13 workers die on the job, thousands are injured and 150 succumb to diseases they obtained from exposure to carcinogens and other toxic and hazardous substances while they worked,” said Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates. “Given the troubling statistics on workplace deaths and injuries, the Department of Justice is redoubling its efforts to hold accountable those who unlawfully jeopardize workers’ health and safety.”

Department of Labor Deputy Secretary Chris Lu added, “Safety and security in the workplace are a shared commitment. Workplace injuries and illnesses cause an enormous amount of physical, financial and emotional hardship for workers and their families and underscore the urgent need for employers to provide a safe workplace for their employees.”

Both departments began meeting last year to team up to prosecute more cases of worker endangerment violations.

Senior Homeland Security Official Flip-Flops on Gun Sales to People on Terrorist Watch List

gunsBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A senior Homeland Security official who suggested last week that President Obama’s plan to ban firearm sales to people on the government’s terrorist watch list was misguided has taken an entirely different tone, the Washington Times reports. 

Alan Bersin seemed to undermine Obama’s proposed ban in sworn testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, saying that he didn’t think it would be appropriate to ban gun sales based on one’s presence on the terrorist watch list.

Bersin was repeating the opinions of many Republicans who feel it’s a violation of the Second Amendment to create such a ban because of the lower standards of evidence to place someone on the no-fly list.

But following the testimony, Bersin issued a statement that he agrees with President Obama and Democrats that a ban is needed because of the dangers of terrorism.

“To be clear, it is the administration’s position that Congress should act to make sure no one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun. This is a matter of national security and common sense, and it is a position I and the department support,” Mr. Bersin said in the statement.

Some Republicans lashed out, saying Bersin was likely pressured to change his tone.

“I think he said what he meant, and his bosses weren’t happy with that answer. We’ve seen that multiple times from this administration,” Rep. Blake Farenthold, a Texas Republican, told the Washington Times.

President Obama Won’t Nominate Interim ATF, U.S. Marshals Service Heads for Confirmation to Permanent Posts

ATF head Thomas Brandon.

ATF head Thomas Brandon.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Obama has decided he won’t nominate permanent leaders to head the ATF and U.S. Marshals Service, The Hill reports.

That means that the interim department heads will stay in their positions until the end of Obama’s administration next year, the Justice Department announced Monday.

That decision means that neither U.S. Marshals Service Acting Director David Harlow nor interim ATF head Thomas Brandon will face Senate confirmation hearings.

It was expected that confirmation hearings would be difficult and timely, “especially as scrutiny ramps up in the months ahead of next year’s presidential election,” The Hill wrote.

Together, they “have demonstrated themselves to be outstanding public servants and extraordinary partners in the work of building a stronger, safer nation,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement announcing the decision not to seek Senate-confirmed replacements.