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News Story

Politico Tries To Provide a Snapshot of Robert Mueller’s FBI Investigators

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, via FBI.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Politico’s Josh Gerstein tries to provide a snapshot of the Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s FBI team, writing that the group has a wide range of skills, with some specializing in financial frauds, others in counterintelligence or corruption, and still others adept at investigating computer hacking and other forms of cybercrime.

Politico reports:

Mueller’s FBI crew appears to be a combination of agents who were already working aspects of the investigation before the former FBI director took over a year ago, either because of their expertise or their location, and a set of volunteers who jumped aboard or were invited to join as the special counsel staffed up.

“The agents come two ways,” said Jeff Cramer, a former federal prosecutor in Chicago, now with Berkeley Research Group. “One is geographic. But, as you’re constructing your perfect investigative team, if you have your druthers and there’s agents you’ve worked with in the past, wherever they are in the country, on a case like this you do reach out and say, ‘Would you like to be involved in this?’”

Justice Department Announces Improvements to Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program

Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Photo by Gage Skidmore, via Wikipedia.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department on Tuesday announced improvements to the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program including provisions addressing claims of fatal heart attacks, strokes and vascular ruptures and those injured in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

“At this Department of Justice, we back the blue,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “Officers killed or wounded in the line of duty and their families deserve our gratitude and our support. That’s why we are determined to make improvements to the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program, which provides for them when they need it most.  We are making it simpler to apply for benefits for those who are injured. We have already made significant progress in reducing the time for application processing. Now, we are also doing our part to help some of the brave first responders who are suffering from the effects of the September 11th terrorist attacks. ”

The Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program provides death and education benefits to the eligible survivors of fallen law enforcement officers, firefighters and other first responders, and disability benefits to officers catastrophically injured in the line of duty.

Improvements and updates to the Program include:

  • Heart Attack, Stroke, and Vascular Rupture Claims: The new rule helps implement a change in the law that reduces the need in many cases for families to submit difficult-to-find and costly medical records for their loved ones. This regulatory change alone positively impacts nearly one-third of the PSOB death claims filed each year.
    Filing Process:  The new rule includes administrative updates to make filing claims more straightforward and less burdensome for survivors and public safety agencies.
    Law Enforcement and Firefighter Trainees: Recognizing the dangerous nature of law enforcement and fire suppression, and the rigorous training required to help keep communities safe, the new rule clarifies the coverage of certain individuals fatally or catastrophically injured during formal training provided by law enforcement and fire academies.
    September 11th Exposure Claims: The new rule facilitates the PSOB Program’s medical examiners’ review of the nearly 150 claims pending for certain public safety officers who responded to the September 11th attacks to assist in rescue, recovery, and clean-up efforts, and who were exposed to hazards and toxins resulting from the attacks.

Judge Refuses to Toss Special Counsel Case Against Paul Manafort

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A D.C. federal judge has given special counsel Robert Mueller the green light to continue the case against Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Business Insider reports.

U.S. District Judge Amy Jackson declined on Tuesday to toss the charges against  Manafort, who faces two indictments from the special counsel. Manafort is charged in Virginia and Washington with tax and bank fraud connected to his lobbying work for the Ukrainian government and pro-Russia interests in Ukraine.

The judge ruled the indictment “falls squarely within that portion of the authority granted to the Special Counsel,” the publication reports.

“Given the combination of his prominence within the campaign and his ties to Ukrainian officials supported by and operating out of Russia, as well as to Russian oligarchs, Manafort was an obvious person of interest,” the ruling reads.

Opinion Piece: DEA Has No Clue What It’s Talking About When it Comes to Pot and Opioids

Paul Armentano is the deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. He is the co-author of the book, Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? and the author of the book, The Citizen’s Guide to State-By-State Marijuana Laws. This piece appears in The Hill.

By Paul Armentano
For The Hill

Is state-level medical cannabis access mitigating or fueling America’s opioid crisis? Testifying before Congress last week, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) acting administrator Robert Patterson claimed the latter. But when he prompted to provide evidence in support of the agency’s position, he acknowledged that he could not.

His failure to substantiate this claim is unsurprising. That is because numerous peer-reviewed studies show that increased cannabis access is associated with declining rates of opioid useabusehospitalizations, and mortality. Among patients enrolled in state-sanctioned medical marijuana access programs, participants’ use of not only opioids, but also their use of numerous other prescription medications — such as anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs — declines significantly.

To read the full piece click here.

Ex-CIA Employee Suspected of Leaking Documents to WikiLeaks Faces Sexual-Related Charges

Joshua Adam Schulte (Linkedin photo)

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

There may be a lot questions surrounding 30-year-old former CIA employee Joshua Adam Schulte, but one thing is certain: This man needs lawyers.

First, the federal government suspects he gave a massive trove of agency documents to WikiLeaks about the CIA’s hacking operations, though he has yet to be charged with that, reports Huffington Post.

In the meantime, he faces child pornography charges and charges in Virginia, where he’s accused of snapping photos as he sexually assaulted a passed-out friend as she lay on the floor of his bathroom.

Schulte was arrested back in August on federal child pornography charges, but it wasn’t until Tuesday that The Washington Post and New York Times reported the government was interested in Schulte because it suspected WikiLeaks leaks.

NBC News reports that he’s currently in a Manhattan federal jail on the child porn charges.

 

Ex-Border Patrol Agent Gets 7 1/2 Years For Taking Bribe

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

An ex-Border Patrol agent was sentenced Monday in Tucson to 7.5 years in federal prison for accepting bribes and acting as a scout for drug smugglers near Marana.

Alberto M. Michel pleaded guilty earlier this year to taking $12,000 in exchange for providing counter-surveillance for marijuana smugglers while on duty in November, The Arizona Daily Star reports. 

Michel, 41, joined the Border Patrol in 2009 and was promoted to the Tucson Sector Border Patrol Intelligence Unit in 2016, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Does Robert Mueller Have A Conflict of Interest With The Russian Probe and an Oligarch?

Special counsel Robert Mueller

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Life is complicated.

In 2009, when Robert S. Mueller III ran the FBI, the bureau asked Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska to spend millions of his own dollars funding an FBI-supervised operation to rescue a retired FBI agent, Robert Levinson, captured in Iran while working for the CIA in 2007.

John Solomon writes in The Hill that’s  the same Deripaska who has surfaced in Mueller’s current investigation and who was recently sanctioned by the Trump administration.

The Levinson mission is confirmed by more than a dozen participants inside and outside the FBI, including Deripaska, his lawyer, the Levinson family and a retired agent who supervised the case, Solomon writes.

 

Electronic Frontier Foundation Wants to Know About the 7,800 Phones the FBI Says It Can’t Hack

mobile phone in hand vector silhouette on white background

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is curious about the FBI’s claim that it had nearly 7,800 phones it couldn’t hack into while investigating crimes in 2017.

So, the foundation has submitted a FOIA request to the FBI, as well as the Offices of the Inspector General and Information Policy at DOJ, asking the FBI to tell the public how they arrived at that 7,775 devices figure, when and how the FBI discovered that some outside entity was capable of hacking the San Bernardino iPhone, and what the FBI was telling Congress about its capabilities to hack into cellphones.

The Foundation writes:

When law enforcement argues for legally mandating encryption backdoors into our devices, and justifies that argument by claiming they can’t get in any other way, it’s important for legislators and the public to know whether that justification is actually true.

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