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Archive for September, 2016

Gordon Johnson, a 21-Year-Veteran of the FBI, Takes Helm at Bureau’s Baltimore Division

FBI's Baltimore Division.

FBI’s Baltimore Division.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Gordon Johnson, who has worked with the FBI since 1995, has been named special agent in charge of the Baltimore Division.

FBI Director James B. Comey announced the appointment this month of Johnson, who most recently served as deputy assistant director of the Counterintelligence Division at FBI headquarters.

Gary Johnson

After entering the FBI in 1995, Johnson was first assigned to the New York Field Office, investigating national security issues.

Johnson has held numerous leadership positions, including in the Counterintelligence Division and Baltimore Division, a senior representative to the U.S. Cyber Command at the NSA, as special assistant to the FBI’s associate deputy director and as the acting special agent in charge of the Norfolk Division.

The FBI said Johnson will take the helm in Baltimore at the beginning of October.

As ISIS Is Pummeled in Iraq and Syria, FBI Director Warns of ‘Terrorist Diaspora’

FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director James Comey said Tuesday that he’s confident ISIS will be destroyed soon in Iraq and Syria, but that won’t stop the spread of extremism.

Testifying before Congress, Comey said he’s worried that terrorists will leave Syria and Iraq and flock to other countries, CBS News reports. 

“There will be a terrorist diaspora sometime in the next two to five years like we’ve never seen before,” Comey said.

Nicholas Rasmussen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said concerns remain high about al-Qaida and its affiliates.

There’s also the increase of “self-radicalized” attacks in the U.S.

Johnson said terrorists are difficult to detect because attacks can occur with little or no notice.

Border Patrol Agent Found Dead After Shooting at Officers in Arizona

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Border Patrol agent was killed Monday night after an exchange of gunfire with police, who were responding to a domestic violence incident at his home in Maricopa, Ariz.

The couple’s 10-year-old daughter called 911 to report the domestic disturbance, according to 12News. 

The agent was identified as Jeremy Russo, 40.

Russo is accused of shooting at police as they arrived to his home.

One officer shot at Russo, and the rest of the family was able to safely flee the home.

SWAT officers sent a robot inside the home, where Russo was found dead in a closet.

“Before we went to bed, we heard shooting,” said Bonnie Kevicki, who lives around the corner from the scene. “I thought it was a gas explosion when the smash and boom went on about 12:30.”

Russo, who joined the agency in 2011, was assigned to the Casa Grande Border Patrol Station.

Police said it’s unclear whether Russo died from the officer’s fire or from a self-inflicted gunshot.

FBI Investigating Potential Hack of Cell Phones Used by Democratic Party Staffers

hacking By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is investigating a possible hack of cell phones used by Democratic Party staffers.

The bureau asked the staffers for access to the phones to examine the potential hack, CNN reports. 

Investigators are trying to determine whether the potential hack was connected to the original breach of the Democratic National Committee emails, which many authorities believe to be the work of the Russian government.

“Our struggle with the Russian hackers that we announced in June is ongoing — as we knew it would be — and we are choosing not to provide general updates unless personal data or other sensitive information has been accessed or stolen,” interim DNC Chairwoman Donna Brazile told CNN.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein and California Rep. Adam Schiff, who are the ranking members of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, blamed the Russian government for the cyberattacks in a joint statement.

“Based on briefings we have received, we have concluded that the Russian intelligence agencies are making a serious and concerted effort to influence the US election,” they wrote.

Woman Who Fatally Shot FBI Agent Won’t Be Released Early from Prison

Christina Korbe

Christina Korbe

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Christina Korbe, who fatally shot an FBI agent during a drug raid in Pennsylvania, won’t be freed from prison early.

U.S. District Judge Terrence McVerry rejected her bid for early release, saying she agreed not to challenge her sentence when she pleaded guilty, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

Korbe was sentenced to 15 years in prison for killing FBI Agent Sam Hicks when her home was raided for drugs at her Indiana Township home in 2008.

Her attorney requested the early release following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that ordered federal courts to re-examine sentences for offenders.

Slain FBI Agent Sam Hicks/fbi photo

Slain FBI Agent Sam Hicks/fbi photo

Korbe was convicted in 2011 of voluntary manslaughter and using a fund during a crime of violence. She was spared a life sentence for a murder a federal agent.

Korbe is eligible for release in 2022.

Other Stories of Interest

FBI: Murders Surged in U.S. in 2015, While Violent Crime Rose Nearly 4%

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-7-18-08-am

Via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Murders surged 10% in 2015 over the previous year, while violent crime rose nearly 4% in the same time period, according to the FBI’s annual crime report.

The increase comes after two years of declines in violent crime in the U.S.

Still, violent crime rates remain much lower than two decades ago.

“The report shows that there was an overall increase in violent crime last year, making clear what each of us already knows: that we still have so much work to do,” Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said Monday in Little Rock, the Washington Post reports. “Violent crime endangers lives, destroys families and paralyzes neighborhoods … In some ways, violence affects all of us — and so all of us have a responsibility to end it.”

The largest increases in homicide came in Chicago, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

“But the report also reminds us of the progress that we are making,” Lynch said. “It shows that in many communities, crime has remained stable or even decreased from the historic lows reported in 2014. And it is important to remember that while crime did increase overall last year, 2015 still represented the third-lowest year for violent crime in the past two decades.”

FBI Found More Than 1,600 Spent Shell Casings at Oregon Wildlife Refuge

Scene at the federal wildlife refuge.

Scene at the federal wildlife refuge.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI agents found more than 1,600 spent shell casings at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge boat launch in Oregon, where protesters occupied the area for 41 days earlier this year.

The findings were shared with jurors in a video that showed seven or eight men firing assault rifles, the Oregonian reports. 

Assistant U.S Attorney Ethan Knight said the video undermines defense attorneys’ claims that the armed standoff was a peaceful demonstration.

“It’s direct evidence of force,” Knight told the judge.

The Oregonian reports:

FBI agents, photographers and forensic accountants who were part of the agency’s Evidence Response Team spent the day testifying about what they recovered from the bird sanctuary in late February after the 41-day occupation. Bundy and six co-defendants are on trial, charged with conspiring to impede federal employees from the refuge through force, intimidation or threats.

The agents described dozens of boxes of ammunition found in multiple sites, rifle cases left in the refuge archaeologist’s office, a trench filled with trash bags near the RV park on the eastern edge of refuge headquarters, three cut padlocks located in a dumpster outside the bunkhouse, a “Tyranny” sign propped up at the refuge’s front gate and an improvised bunker dug out by the back gate of the refuge.

They also revealed handwritten notes they seized from the bunkhouse and elsewhere that described tactical training, formations and drills, guard duty schedules and individual assignments such as “rifleman” or “medic.”

FBI Special Agent Christopher Chew said he was the senior team leader, managing the search and seizure of evidence from Feb. 12 through Feb. 23. He said there were FBI evidence teams that helped Portland agents from Seattle, Salt Lake City, Denver and San Antonio.

Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Urge DEA to Halt Banning Kratom

Kratom pill, via Wikipedia.

Kratom pill, via Wikipedia.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

House lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are urging the DEA to reconsider its decision to make kratom, an herbal supplement, a Schedule I drug because of its potential to help heroin addicts.

A letter from 45 representatives asked the acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg to delay the ban, which could take effect as early as this week, until authorities “engage consumers, researchers, and other stakeholders, in keeping with well-established protocol for such matters,” Huffington Post reports. 

“This significant regulatory action was done without any opportunity for public comment from researchers, consumers, and other stakeholders,” reads the letter, drafted by Reps. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., and Matt Salmon, R-Ariz. “This hasty decision could have serious effects on consumer access and choice of an internationally recognized herbal supplement.”

Lawmakers also appealed to the Office of Management and Budget to stop the DEA’s scheduling process so authorities could determine if kratom should be placed into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.

Kratom users and some scientists said the DEA’s proposed ban is premature because of potential medical benefits to people dependent on prescription painkillers or heroin.