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Archive for August 14th, 2017

FBI, Justice Department Investigate Violence in Charlottesville, Va.

Suspect James Fields

Suspect James Fields

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI and Justice Department have opened a civil rights investigation into a deadly car crash caused by a white nationalist who plunged into a crowd of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Va.

“The violence and deaths in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American law and justice,” said Attorney General Jeff Session, who has involved the DOJ’s civil rights division, Politico reports

The violence broke out late Saturday morning after hundreds of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and neo-Confederates converged on Charlottesville to protest the removal of a statue of a Confederate general. They cashed with counter-protesters.

Shortly after the governor declared a state of emergency, a car driven by a 20-year-old Ohio resident who idolized Hitler drove into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring 19 others.

James Fields, of the Toledo area, was charged with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and hit-and-run.

The FBI has interviewed Fields’ mother, according to the Toledo Blade.

“When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated,” Sessions said. “I have talked with FBI Director Chris Wray, FBI agents on the scene, and law enforcement officials for the state of Virginia. The FBI has been supporting state and local authorities throughout the day. U.S. Attorney Rick Mountcastle has commenced a federal investigation and will have the full support of the Department of Justice. Justice will prevail.”

Special Counsel Mueller’s Investigation Reaches White House

Robert Mueller

Robert Mueller

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia’s interference in the presidential election has reached the White House.

Mueller and his team are negotiating interviews with current and former senior administration officials, including recently ousted White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, the New York Times reports. 

Mueller is inquiring about specific meeting and any documents or material related to them. Mueller also plans to ask officials about the firing of then-FBI Director James Comey.

Ty Cobb, a special counsel to the president, declined to comment on details of the investigation but said there White House will “continue to fully cooperate.”

Star-Tribune: Combating Extremism Must Stay Priority After Homeland Security Resignation

homeland-security-sportsBy Editorial Board
Star-Tribune

The resignation of a top U.S. Department of Homeland Security official has left the agency without a strong, outspoken advocate for locally led efforts to combat homegrown terrorism, a threat that the weekend violence in Charlottesville, Va., put a disturbing spotlight on.

With federal support for these programs now uncertain, private nonprofits and the business community must step up to fill this leadership void.

George Selim, who resigned in late July, led Homeland Security’s Office of Community Partnerships and directed the agency’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) task force. His energetic leadership made him a familiar figure to Minnesota law enforcement authorities and others working here to thwart terror recruiters. Some of these have targeted young people in the state’s large Somali-American community.

Selim, who began his federal career during the George W. Bush administration, merits praise for embracing a more comprehensive approach to fighting extremism. In addition to intercepting recruits and prosecuting them, he argued that preventive measures are needed.

This pragmatic approach is built on the premise that those who put down roots and prosper are less likely to fall prey to recruiters’ deceptive promises. Social services programs that build strong families, as well efforts to “de-radicalize” those who get involved with extremists, are now a critical component of CVE strategy.

Under Selim’s leadership, the Office of Community Partnerships advocated for federal grants to local organizations and finally convinced Congress to appropriate the dollars. The agency awarded the first round of grants in 2016. Two Minnesota organizations received $770,000 in funding: the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and Heartland Democracy, a mentoring program for young people.

Unfortunately, it’s unclear if there will be a second round of grants. Selim’s departure raises troubling questions about CVE’s future. The CVE approach has been controversial in some circles because it’s sometimes deemed too soft an approach to terrorism. Other critics dislike that these dollars help immigrants, while others have wrongly contended that CVE shouldn’t encompass white supremacist groups inside U.S. borders.

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AG Sessions: Car Attack in Charlottesville ‘Does Meet the Definition of Domestic Terrorism’

Suspect James Alex Fields

Suspect James Alex Fields

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said this morning that an Ohio driver who plunged into a crowd of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Va., “does meet the definition of domestic terrorism.”

The driver, 20-year-old James Fields, killed one person and injured 19 others.

“It does meet the definition of domestic terrorism in our statute,” Sessions said on ABC News’ “Good Morning America” today. “We are pursuing it in the (Justice Department) in every way that we can make a case.”

Sessions said the driver could be charged with more serious, federal charges.

“You can be sure we will charge and advance the investigation towards the most serious charges that can be brought because this is unequivocally an unacceptable evil attack,” he said. “Terrorism investigators from the FBI are working on the case as well as civil rights division FBI agents.”

The car slammed into a group of people protesting white supremacists who turned up in droves to protest the planned removal of a statue of a Confederate general.

NTSB Helps Investigate Deadly Helicopter Crash Near Violence in Virginia

seal_of_the_united_states_national_transportation_safety_board-svgBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The National Transportation Safety Board is helping investigate the cause of Saturday’s fatal helicopter crash that killed two state police pilots who were circling over the violence that broke out in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend.

The Virginia State Police Bell 407 helicopter crashed for unknown reason at 4:50 p.m.

The occupants, Lt. H. Jay Cullen, 48, of Midlothian, Va., and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, of Quinton, Va., were killed when the chapter went down. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.

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