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Archive for August, 2019

Former ATF Security Guard Gets 14 Years in Prison for Stealing Firearms, Ammunition from Agency

Christopher Lee Yates

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former contract security guard who stole guns, ammunition and firearms parts from the ATF and then sold them was sentenced Monday to 14 years in prison.

Christopher Lee Yates, of Martinsburg, W.V., admitted in court that he stole the items from ATF’s National Firearms and Ammunition Destruction Branch facility near Martinsburg.

An investigation found that Yates stole the guns, ammunition and firearm parts while serving as a security guard from 2016 to 2019.

The theft prompted an investigation that helped the ATF recover 4,625 guns and firearm parts. They included 120 rifles, 60 pistols, four automatic machine guns and three components to make rocket launchers, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

What remains unclear is why the ATF didn’t have safeguards in place to avoid the thefts.

Jailed Man Charged with Threatening to Kill Trump, Blow Up White House, Trump Tower

Jesse Blake, via Bedford County Jail

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A New York man locked up in a Pennsylvania jail was charged with threatening to kill President Trump and blowing up the White House, Trump Tower, the Pentagon and the United National headquarters once he gets released from prison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Monday.

A grand jury indicted 24-year-old Jesse Allen Blake on Aug. 22 on charges that carry a maximum penalty of up to a decade in prison.

According to authorities, Blake mailed a letter to the FBI headquarters in Washington D.C., threatening to blow up the sites and kill Trump.

The Secret Service, with the help of the FBI Task Force, investigated the case.

In a separate case, Robert Pratersch, a 58-year-old Florida man, was sentenced to 15 months in prison for leaving three threatening voicemail messages to the office of Sen. Bernie Sanders, saying he was going to “behead” the senator “ISIS-style” and videotape the execution, the Justice Department announced last week. Pratersch also made “numerous anti-Semitic remarks directed” at Sanders.

FBI Received Increase in Tips from the Public Following Massacres in El Paso, Toledo

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Tips to the FBI increased following the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, a sign that the public is taking the gun deaths more seriously.

The FBI’s National Threat Operations Center fielded more than 38,000 tips from the public in the first week following the Aug. 3 and Aug. 4 attacks. NTOC averages 22,000 tips, The Washington Post reports.

At least 28 people have been arrested on allegations of threatening to commit mass shootings since 31 people were killed in massacres in Texas and Ohio.

In the wake of the attacks, FBI Director Christopher Wray urged law enforcement agencies across the country to become more vigilant in their search for potential mass shooters.

The FBI said tips usually increase following “major incidents.”

“Such increases are often observed after major incidents,” the FBI said in a statement. “As always, the FBI encourages the public to remain vigilant and report any and all suspicious activity to law enforcement immediately.”

Journalist Who Exposed ‘Whitey’ Bulger’s Ties with FBI Dies

One of the books co-written by Gerald O’Neill.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Gerald M. O’Neill, an intrepid Boston Globe journalist who helped expose mobster James “Whitey” Bulger as an FBI informant, has died.

He was 76.

O’Neill was a longtime investigative reporter and editor for the newspaper’s Spotlight Team when he revealed in 1988 that Bulger was killing people while snitching for the FBI. At the time, the bureau was protecting the murderous crime boss.

“That stopped time in Boston,” Stephen A. Kurkjian, one of the original Spotlight reporters, told New York Times for an obit.

Kurkjian said the FBI told the Globe its information was erroneous and would embarrass the newspaper if it dropped the bombshell report. But editors stood behind O’Neill’s investigative work and published the story. After all, O’Neill had valuable sources within the FBI.

“It was a nerve-racking moment,” Dick Lehr, a Spotlight reporter who worked on the series with Mr. O’Neill, told the Times.

A decade later, the FBI finally admitted publicly that O’Neill and his team was right – Bulger was an FBI informant.

O’Neill and Lehr wrote two books about Bulger. One of them, “Black Mass: The Irish Mob, the FBI, and a Devil’s Deal,” which was published in 2000, was turned into a 2015 movie in which Johnny Depp starred as Bulger.

O’Neill died at his Boston home Thursday after complications with interstitial lung disease.

Weekend Series on Crime History: The Reagan Assassination Attempt

CNN Hires ex-FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe As Contributor; Trump’s Son Critical

FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

CNN has hired ex-FBI acting director Andrew McCabe as a contributor,  the network announced Friday.

The news triggered sharp criticism from conservatives, including President Trump’s eldest son and a representative of Trump’s reelection campaign, the Washington Post reports.

McCabe authorized an investigation into Trump and alleged ties to Russia and possible obstruction of justice. He was fired in March 2018 after the Justice Department inspector general found that he made an unauthorized disclosure to the media and lied to investigators about it, Post writes.

McCabe is suing the FBI and Justice Department, saying he was wrongfully discharged.

Top Homeland Security Aide, Spokesman Meehan Resigns Amid Tensions

Andrew Meehan

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Andrew Meehan, a spokesman and top aide to Homeland Secretary Kevin McAleenan, is reportedly leaving the Trump administration over trust issues.

Meehan became acting assistant secretary of public affairs just four months ago to serve with former CBP boss, McAleenan, who promoted to acting secretary in April.

The White House had become frustrated with Meehan’s strategy in rolling out policy changes and his timing on announcements, Axios reports.

“Meehan, who was in Panama in advance of the secretary’s visit during the Flores rollout, made the decision to leave government a couple of weeks ago,” a senior DHS official told Axios.

Homeland Security and White House officials had not responded to questions about Meehan’s departure as of Thursday night.

House Democrats: Trump’s Administration Turns Blind Eye to White Nationalism

U.S. Capitol

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

House Democrats are questioning why Trump’s administration “is failing to address white supremacist, extremist violence” as domestic terrorism is on the rise.

Consider this: All race-based domestic terrorism in 2018 was committed by alleged white supremacists. When the Department of Homeland Security wanted to increase its focus on domestic terrorism, the White House intervened and rejected the idea.

So alarmed by the surge in white supremacist violence, FBI Director Christopher Wray warned Congress in July that “a majority of domestic terrorism cases are motivated by some version of what you might call white supremacist violence.”

So why does it appear Trump’s administration is not taking the threat seriously?

In a letter to the leadership of the FBI and Homeland Security, 65 House Democrats said white supremacy must be met with a “vigorous, systemic and coordinated response.”

“We are concerned that the Trump administration is jeopardizing our national security by failing to take domestic terrorism seriously,” the letter reads. “In particular, this administration is failing to address white supremacist extremist violence, the leading cause of domestic terrorism.”

The letter adds, “It is unacceptable that political interference from the White House should prevent domestic terrorism from receiving the elevated level of focus it deserves, especially following recent, high profile terrorist attacks.”