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News Story

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.”

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.

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.

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.

Former ICE Director Homan Pledges to Run Against ICE Critic Sen. Gillibrand

Former ICE Director Thomas Woman.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Thomas Homan, who was President Trump’s first acting ICE director, pledged to run against U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat and former presidential candidate who has suggested abolishing ICE.

Homan said he’s tired of listening to Gillibrand’s anti-ICE rhetoric and wants to remove her from her Senate seat.

“Let me just say this: When I do return to New York and Sen. Gilibrand is still around, she won’t be around because I’ll take her on,” Homan said on Larry O’Connor’s “Examining Politics” podcast.

Homan, who served as ICE director from January 2017 to June 2018, acknowledged he’s no longer a New York resident but would return to the state to run against Gillibrand.

Gillibrand became the first sitting senator to join the “Abolish ICE” movement in June 2019.  Since then, president candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders said he also wants to abolish ICE.

Homan defended the agency and its agents, saying, “ICE are the good guys.”

ATF Loses Agents And Resources As Gun Deaths, Mass Shootings Rise

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

As law enforcement struggles with how to handle the proliferation of mass shootings in the U.S., the agency tasked with enforcing gun laws is underfunded and without a permanent leader.

The ATF is expected to lose 300 agents to retirement in 2018 and 2019, and the agency isn’t hiring enough replacements.

The agency has no permanent leader, and its budget continues to be cut.

Kenneth E. Nelson, former acting ATF director, said the agency is being handled like “political football.”

“If they are really concerned, Congress would give ATF the resources to prevent and respond to mass shootings, but ATF is a political football,” Nelson told The Washington Times.

Since 2001, the number of gun deaths have risen 34%, but the number of federal agents – about 2,600 – has not increased.

“The growth of violent gun crime is an external challenge that has strained ATF’s ability to respond to requests for assistance to address the needs of the nation’s cities and citizens most affected by this violence,” ATF wrote, adding that “requests for services and support continue to exceed our ability to respond.”

In 2018, the ATF hired 156 agents but lost 172 to retirement. With about 17% of agents aged 50 or older, the agency is expected to lose a lot more staff.

President Trump has even discussed transferring the ATF’s responsibilities to the Treasury Department.

David Chipman, a former ATF agent, said the gun lobby is to blame.

“We all agree gun violence is a significant public safety threat, so why is the ATF the size that it is?” he said. “That is largely because the gun lobby has been concerned about an effective and aggressive ATF, and their influence over legislators has kept the ATF ineffectual, at least budgetwise.”

FBI Joins Investigation of Deadly Attack on Family Near U.S.-Mexico Border

Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI is joining the investigation into the attack that killed nine Mexican Americans last week near the U.S. border.

The deadly ambush in broad daylight left three women and six children dead after suspected drug cartels riddled the Mormon family’s SUV convoy with bullets on Nov. 4.

“The FBI will be providing assistance at the invitation of the Mexican government with the investigation into the recent attack against American citizens,” the FBI said in a statement, according to CNN. “The FBI remains committed to working alongside our international partners to help bring justice to the perpetrators of this heinous act of violence.”

Mexico’s foreign ministry invited the FBI to help.

Mexican authorities believe rival drug cartels attacked the family as part of a case of mistaken identity.

Last week, Trump offered to send U.S. troops to Mexica to “wipe” the cartels “off the face of the earth.”

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