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Archive for November, 2017

FBI Investigates Murders of Syrian-American Journalist And Her Mom

Halla Barakat was murdered in Syria in September. Photo via Twitter.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is investigating the September murders of a Syrian-American journalist and her mother in Turkey, but local Turkish authorities are refusing to cooperate.

Halla Barakat, 23, and her mother, Orouba Barakat, 60, were found dead on Sept. 21 and were active in the Syrian opposition against the government of President Bashar Assad. They were stranded and stabbed to death in a shared Istanbul apartment.

Investigators believe the murders were carried out by professionals because their bodies were doused with a chemical solution that delays the decomposition of remains, ABC reports.

Because Halla Barakat was born in the U.S., the FBI has legal jurisdiction to investigate the homicides overseas.

“The TNP is awaiting forensic evidence to be analyzed and currently has a suspect in custody who is strongly believed to be the perpetrator of the homicide of Halla and Orouba Barakat,” Piro wrote to the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in the letter. “Due to jurisdictional legalities, the TNP will continue to work this matter and provide updates to our Legal Attache office in Ankara.”

The bureau told CAIR that Turkish National Police “respectfully declined the FBI’s assistance.”

Conservative Group Sues to Get Robert Mueller Fired

Special counsel Robert Mueller

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A conservative watchdog group filed suit in an effort to remove Robert Mueller as special counsel appointed to investigate possible collusion between President Trump’s campaign team and Russia.

Freedom Watch alleges Mueller should be removed for “gross prosecutorial misconduct” because of leaks of grand jury information and because of “obvious conflicts of interest among staff,” The Hill reports.

“Robert Mueller is not a ‘man of integrity’ as the Washington, D.C., Democrat and Republican political establishment like to spin,” Klayman said in a statement. “He is just another pol who is representing his establishment benefactors in both political parties who want to see the presidency of Donald Trump destroyed.”

In addition, the complaint alleges Mueller has politicized the investigation by relying on Democrats to assist in the probe.

New Signs That Flynn Is Turning into State Witness in Trump-Russia Probe

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An attorney for Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn has met with special counsel investigators in a move that could spell serious trouble for the president and his campaign.

The meeting between Flynn’s lawyer and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team raises an obvious question: Has Flynn turned into a state’s witness as part of a future plea deal?

Monday’s meeting, which was first reported by ABC News, comes after Flynn’s attorney, Robert Kelner, alerted Trump’s legal team that he is no longer communicating with them.

Flynn has been the subject of Mueller’s investigation and an FBI probe, in part because of undisclosed conversations he had with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

ICE Seeks Help from Social Media Companies to Spy on Visa Holders

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Trump administration’s increasing battle against illegal immigration may soon include tracking the social media feeds of foreign visitors.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement told software providers that it’s seeking “algorithms that would assess potential threats posed by visa holders in the U.S. and conduct ongoing social media surveillance of those deemed high risk,” ProPublica reports. 

The move appears to be part of Trump’s demands for the “extreme vetting” of visitors from Muslim countries, raising criticism from immigrants and civil liberties advocates.

ICE is searching for “risk-based metrics” to indicate potential dangers posed by visa holders, who could remain under continuous surveillance while in the U.S., according to Louis Rodi, deputy assistant director of ICE Homeland Security Investigations’ National Security Program, who spoke at a recent tech industry conference in Arlington, Va.

“We have millions and millions and millions of people coming every year, and subsequently departing, so we have to be smart about it,” said Rodi to a room of representatives from companies like Microsoft, Accenture, Deloitte and Motorola Solutions. “And I’m sure there are tools out there that can help.”

The program, however, has not begun, stressed ICE spokeswoman Carissa Curttel.

“The request for information on this initiative was simply that—an opportunity to gather information from industry professionals and other government agencies on current technological capabilities to determine the best way forward,” Cutrell wrote in an email.

Obama’s Administration Spent $114M on Vacations, Campaigning

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The total costs to taxpayers to protect former President Obama’s family travels reached a total of $114 million during his eight years in the White House, according to documents obtained by the conservative legal group, Judicial Watch.

So far, President Trump has spent $10 million in taxes for protection.

The figures come from documents obtained from the Air Force and Secret Service.

One of the biggest-ticket trips came during the weekend of February 14, 2014, when First Lady Michell Obama and her daughters traveled to Aspen, causing the shutdown of an airport.

Trump, who has been under fire for he and his family’s travel expenses, is spending less money so far than his predecessor, according to Judicial Watch.

Other Stories of Interest

Cat Hair, Cigarettes Lead FBI to Woman Accused of Sending Bomb to Obama

Cat photo by Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Cat hair and a pack of cigarettes helped lead the FBI to a woman accused of sending a bomb to President Obama, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and the Social Security Administration near Baltimore.

Julia Poff, who is accused of sending the improvised explosive devices, was captured after the FBI found several unusual clues, RT.com reports.

“Cat hair was found under the address label,” the indictment reads. “The cat hair on the Obama package was microscopically consistent with the hair of one of Poff’s cats.”

The FBI also found remains of a cigarette box used to make one of the bomb, and on the pack was a sticker that identified the store where the tobacco was purchased. Bank statements show Poff bought cigarettes at the same store.

Poff is being held pending trial and could be sentenced to life in prison or death.

The Hill: Why Trump Needs to Appoint a New DEA Head to Combat Opioid Crisis

Synthetic opioid tablets

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s declaration of war against the opioid crisis is missing a critical weapon – the appointment of a new DEA administrator.

So says Emanuele Ottolegnhi, an opinion contributor to The Hill.

Ottolegnhi writes:

The new DEA administrator should have a clear vision for addressing the international dimension of the drug crisis, as well as the wreckage at home. In particular, the president should choose a DEA chief who not only understands the complex and global nature of drug cartels but is also cognizant of the growing convergence between transnational organized crime and terrorist groups like Hezbollah.

On that front, the first item on the new chief’s agenda should be to remove the handcuffs the Obama administration put on the DEA’s efforts to fight Hezbollah, for fear of scuttling the nascent Iran nuclear deal.

In the past decade, Hezbollah’s growing involvement in transnational organized crime has evolved into a multi-billion dollar global enterprise endorsed and coordinated by the group’s top leaders. Hezbollah’s involvement in producing and selling counterfeit medicines such as Captagon — a powerful amphetamine — is well documented and so is its growing involvement in cocaine trafficking.

Cocaine consumption has not reached the pandemic levels of the opioid crisis but is nonetheless an acute and growing threat. The use and availability of cocaine is on the rise; overdose deaths in 2015 were the highest since 2007. Less well understood are the close ties between cocaine trafficking and terrorism. One clear illustration is the recent extradition, from Paraguay to Miami, of suspected Hezbollah drug trafficker Ali Chamas. Court documents show that he was part of a larger network, likely based in Colombia. At the time of his arrest, he was conspiring to export as many as 100 kilos of cocaine a month to the U.S by air cargo.

To read more click here.

Other Stories of Interest

Funeral Held for Border Patrol Agent Whose Grisly Death Remains a Mystery

Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez was found dead at the bottom of a ravine in west Texas.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Border Patrol agent was laid to rest Saturday following his mysterious death at the bottom of a culvert in the Texas desert. 

Family, friends and law enforcement officers attended the funeral at a Catholic church in El Paso, Texas, to mourn the death of Rogelio Martinez, 36, the Washington Post reports

Martinez’s U.S. flag-draped coffin was carried by Border Patrol pallbearers in green uniforms while bagpipes played.

“It honors him to see law enforcement agencies from across the United States” attend the service, Border Patrol spokesman Ramiro Cordero told reporters outside the church.

Martinez, who was responding to a triggered sensor on Sunday night in west Texas, was found with “traumatic head injuries” and broken bones. He died early Sunday from head injuries.

His partner, who has not been identified, also was found with head injuries and had been in critical condition last week.

The union representing Border Patrol officers insist the agents were attacked with rocks, but the FBI is not so sure.

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