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Weekend Series on Crime History: The Iran-Contra Affair


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FBI’s $1B Investment in State-of-the-Art Campus in Alabama to Create Thousands of Jobs, New Technology

FBI rendering of one of the bureau’s new buildings at Redstone Arsenal.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI’s $1 billion investment on a new state-of-the-art campus in Huntsville is expected to add thousand of new jobs and six new buildings for the bureau.

“We really look at it like a HQ2, a backup for the footprint that we have here in Washington, D.C.,” Paul Abbate, associate deputy director at the FBI, told CNBC in a rare interview. “It’s really the future of the FBI, and it’s all about technology, innovation, talent and resiliency.”

The FBI is making its expansion at Redstone Arsenal, an enormous Army base that leased nearly 1,600 acres to the bureau.

The campus will focus on terrorism, ballistics, explosive devices and even digital threats.

“Our cyberdivision views Huntsville as a current and really future training ground for the tactics, skills expertise that we need in the cyber-realm to work across all the threats we face and put ourselves and our people in the best position to stop that from coming at us,” Abbate said.

About 400 FBI employees currently work at Redstone. The first phase of construction is expected to be finished in 2021 and draw nearly 1,400 bureau employees from the Washington D.C.-area. Over the next decade, an additional 4,000 jobs or more could be added.

The FBI created a webpage to help recruit more employees to the Huntsville area.


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Chad Wolf Becomes 5th Homeland Security Leader under President Trump

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Department of Homeland Security has its fifth leader under President Trump with the appointment of Chad Wolf as acting secretary.

After Wolf was sworn in Thursday, he named immigration hard-liner and acting head of ICE Ken Cuccinelli as his deputy.

Wolf replaces acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, who resigned earlier this month after leading the agency for about six months.

Wolf served as chief of staff under former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

Leading Homeland Security has been no easy task because Trump has demanded a secretary whose focus is clearly on immigration, which is only one part of the multi-faceted agency.


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FBI Study on ‘Lone Offender Terrorism’ Reveals Common Traits Among Attackers

Terrorism exercise in Portland. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A new FBI study examining “lone offender terrorism” found common traits that could help identify future attackers.

Of the 52 examined cases between 1972 and 2015, 83% were carried out by people who had previously exhibited hostility or aggression, according to the 81-page report. In all of the cases, people around the attackers expressed concern over their behavior.

In 96% of the cases, the offender produced a video, blog or letter that was intended to be viewed by others.

“Absent this report and others like it, someone could see something and they’re solely relying on their gut feeling or spider sense to say, ‘That doesn’t look right,’ or ‘That’s concerning,’” Special Agent John Wyman, chief of the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU)’s Behavioral Threat Assessment Center, which conducted the research, said. “I think by putting this information out there, it helps people get over that barrier. It gives you something to fall back on to validate whatever your gut feeling was.”

The study found that half of the cases were motivated by anti-government extremism. Other significant motivators were racial extremism and Islamist violence.

All of the attackers were men, mostly white and a vast majority born in the U.S. Most were single and had free time to focus on the attacks and their grievances.


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Justice Department Launches Plan to Crack Down on Gun Violence

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department unveiled a nationwide initiative aimed at reducing gun violence and enforcing federal firearm laws.

Dubbed “Project Guardian,” the five-point plan includes coordinated prosecution, enforcement of firearm laws and background checks, improved information sharing, coordinated response to mental health denials, and crime gun intelligence coordination.

The plan calls for strengthening partnerships among the ATF, federal prosecutors, and state and local law enforcement to enforce existing laws.

The deputy attorney general is tasked with overseeing the implementation of the plan.

“I know you share my grave concern regarding the gun violence that has plagued our communities and that you are committed to preventing gun violence whenever possible,” Attorney General William Barr said in a news release. “By initiating Project Guardian, we take an important step in increasing the safety and security of our communities. I look forward to hearing in the coming months about your implementation of this program, which will help make our country a safer place for all.”


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Chad Wolf Moves Closer to Becoming Trump’s Fifth Homeland Security Secretary

Chad Wolf

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Chad Wolf is closer to becoming President Trump’s fifth Homeland Security secretary.

The Senate voted primarily along party lines to move forward on Wolf’s nomination as Homeland Security policy undersecretary.

Today, the Senate is expected to vote on the confirmation.

Once he is confirmed, Trump can appoint Wolf as acting Homeland Security secretary. For Wolf to become the leader of the agency, he must hold a Senate-confirmed role under federal law.

Wolf will replace Kevin McAleenan, who resigned in October.

Still, Republicans and Democrats expressed concern about the lack of an acting director for the nation’s third largest department. Homeland Security hasn’t had a permanent secretary since Kirstjen Nielsen resigned in April.

Wolf was Nielsen’s chief of staff.


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FBI Director Wray Names 3 New Special Agents in Charge of Divisions in New York, Washington

FBI Director Christopher Wray, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

FBI Director Christopher Wray has named three new special agents in charge of various divisions in New York and Washington.

James Tarasca, who most recently served as a section chief in the International Operations Division, is the new special agent in charge of the Counterterrorism Division of the New York Field Office.

Jennifer L. Moore, who had served as a section chief in the Strategic Realignment Project Management Office, is the new special agent in charge of the Intelligence Division of the Washington Field Office.

James A. Dawson, who most recently served as a section chief in the Critical Incident Response Group, has been named special agent in charge of the Mission Services Division of the Washington Field Office.


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Iran Says Disappearance of Robert Levinson Is an Ongoing ‘Missing Person’ Case

Robert Levinson

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The family of Robert Levinson, the former FBI agent who vanished in Iran in 2007, expressed some relief after the Iranian government changed its tone on his disappearance.

The government of Iran acknowledged for the first time that the disappearance is an ongoing “missing person” case.

Levinson “has no judicial or criminal case in any Islamic Republic of Iran court whatsoever,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told reporters, The Associated Press reports.

President Trump said Iran’s acknowledgment was “a very positive step.”

“If Iran is able to turn over to the U.S. kidnapped former FBI Agent Robert A. Levinson, who has been missing in Iran for 12 years, it would be a very positive step,” President Trump tweeted Sunday night.

The State Department last week offered up to a $20 million reward for information leading to the safe return of Levinson, who is believed to have been abducted on March 9, 2007.


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