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Border Patrol Agents Accused of Sabotaging Water, Supplies for Migrants

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Border Patrol agents routinely sabotage containers of water and other supplies placed in the Arizona desert to save the lives of thirsty migrants overcome by heat exhaustion and dehydration, according to two humanitarian groups.

The Tucson-based groups claim the agents are essentially delivering a death sentence to people trekking the dangerously hot landscape in a shameless effort to crack down on people who illegally cross into the U.S. from Mexico, the Guardian reports

Volunteers identified more than 400 vandalized water containers along an 800-square-mile patch of Sonoran desert near Tucson from March 2012 to December 2014, according to the report, published by No More Deaths and La Coalición de Derechos Humanos

The groups also accused Border Patrol agents of vandalizing food and blankets and intimidating human rights volunteers.

“Through statistical analysis, video evidence, and personal experience, our team has uncovered a disturbing reality. In the majority of cases, US border patrol agents are responsible for the widespread interference with essential humanitarian efforts,” the study found.

The study added, “The practice of destruction of and interference with aid is not the deviant behavior of a few rogue border patrol agents, it is a systemic feature of enforcement practices in the borderlands.”

Steve Passament, a border patrol spokesman in the Tucson sector, said the agency strongly opposes sabotaging humanitarian supplies and plans to discipline any agents who risk the lives of human beings.

Other Stories of Interest


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ATF: Gun Store Thefts Surge for Fifth Straight Year, Setting Records in 2017

ATF photo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Thieves stole an alarming number of firearms from gun stores and other licensed dealers in 2017, setting a new record for the fifth consecutive year, according to annual statistics compiled by the ATF.

Burglaries and robberies resulted in the theft of 8,129 stolen guns from licensed firearms dealers across the country in 2017, a 3.3% increase over 2016.

Since 2013, the number of stolen guns has surged more than 135%.

Also on the rise for the fifth consecutive year was the number of gun stores that were robbed or burglarized. In 2017, 610 stores were targeted by thieves, compared to 347 in 2013.

Alarmed by the five-year upward trend, the ATF is urging gun dealers to create stronger security measures. Stolen firearms are particularly worrisome because they’re disproportionately used to commit violent crimes, according to numerous studies.

Without federal security requirements, gun store owners in most states are free to operate with no safeguards.

The surge in stolen guns has prompted federal lawmakers to introduce legislation to combat firearm theft. 

In October, many Democrats in the Senate have supported a measure that would require gun dealers to secure their firearms in a locked safe or vault after the store closes. But the proposal is opposed by the National Rifle Association because of potentially detrimental costs, and not one Republican  has offered to cosponsor the legislation.

The proposal with the best chance of passing was introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and it calls for stiffer jail sentences for gun thieves.   Even many Democrats have pledged to support the bill.


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Head of DEA’s Phoenix Division Faces Discipline over Relationship with Subordinate

Phoenix DEA Special Agent in Charge Douglas Coleman, via DEA.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Douglas Coleman, the head of the Phoenix Division of the DEA, could soon be disciplined after an internal investigation concluded he had an “unprofessional personal relationship” with a subordinate.

The Justice Department Office of the Inspector General recently issued a scathing report about the relationship between Coleman and his administrative assistant and division spokeswoman Erica Curry, the Arizona Family reports

The investigation found that the self-described “best friends” engaged in an inappropriate romantic relationship that created the appearance of favoritism. Coleman, for example was Curry’s boss when she received bonuses, promotions, special accommodations and questionably high travel expenses.

The investigation concluded Coleman’s conduct amounted to misuse of office and the failure to maintain high standards of personal conduct.

With the report in hand, the DEA must now decide whether Coleman should be disciplined.

“The matter remains ongoing within the DEA disciplinary system and we cannot comment at this time,” a DEA spokeswoman said.


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A Defiant Bannon Snubs a Subpoena to Answer Questions about Trump-Russia Probe

Former top aide to President Trump, Steve Bannon.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Taking cues from the White House, President Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon repeatedly defied a subpoena Tuesday ordering him to respond to a congressional committee’s questions about possible ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Bannon refused to answer questions from the House Intelligence Committee about the presidential transition team or his time in the administration. The decision was advised by his attorney, who conferred during the day with the White House, which strongly discouraged cooperation with lawmakers. 

The defiance and apparent collaboration with the Trump team shocked and enraged many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

The committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff, of California, harshly criticized what he called a “gag order by the White House” designed to disrupt the investigation.

“This was the first time that we saw a witness refuse to answer questions on the instruction of the White House or on the claim that the White House might later invoke privilege in which [the majority was] not only unwilling to accept that answer but willing to act with great alacrity to subpoena that witness in real time and insist that he come back,” Schiff said.

Bannon also was issued a subpoena to testify before a grand jury as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to undermine the chances of his rival Hillary Clinton.

The special counsel investigation has so far netted indictments against four former members of Trump’s inner circle during the 2016 presidential election.


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Former CIA Officer Arrested in Alleged Plot to Dismantle U.S. Spy Network

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former CIA officer long suspected of helping China disable the United States’ sophisticated spy network has been arrested and charged in federal court with the unlawful retention of nation defense information that he’s accused of leaking to Beijing.

The arrest of Jerry Chun Shing Lee at Kennedy Airport in New York on Monday capped a five-year investigation spearheaded by the FBI, the New York Times reports

Federal investigators became suspicious that the CIA had within its ranks a mole when the intelligence agency began losing its closely guarded informants in China. The FBI said it discovered Lee, who left the CIA in 2007 and moved to Hong Kong, was leaking the identities of the informants. 

In 2o12, while Lee was visiting family in the U.S., FBI agents scoured his luggage and found two volumes of handwritten notes containing classified information.

The dismantling of America’s spy network has been considered one of the U.S.’s worst intelligence blunders in recent years. 


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Bannon Issued Subpoena to Testify Before Grand Jury in Trump-Russia Probe

Steve Bannon

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Steve Bannon, the former White House chief adviser to President Trump, has been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury as part of the special counsel investigation into possible collusion between Russia and Trump associates.

The issuance of a subpoena, which compels testimony from Bannon, was a rare move by special counsel Robert Mueller, who has been interviewing dozens of former and current Trump officials in more informal settings that don’t require a subpoena, the New York Times reports

A notable exception was Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafot, who was subpoenaed and later indicted on various federal charges, including money laundering.

Why Mueller opted to subpoena Bannon, who joined the Trump campaign team in August 2016, is open to speculation.

On Tuesday, Bannon testified behind closed doors before the House Intelligence Committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. 

Bannon was subpoenaed last week, just days after the release of “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” an explosive book in which Bannon raised serious legal questions about a June 2016 meeting at the Trump Tower between the president’s son Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and a Russian lawyer who reportedly offered to release compromising information about presidential rival Hillary Clinton.

Bannon, who was in the campaign’s inner circle when most of the alleged collusion with Russia took place, also predicted the special counsel probe is far from over and will focus on money laundering. 

“By forcing someone to testify through a subpoena, you are providing the witness with cover because they can say, ‘I had no choice — I had to go in and testify about everything I knew,’” said Solomon L. Wisenberg, a prosecutor for the independent counsel that investigated Bill Clinton when he was president.


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‘Guns Up’ Salute by Texas Tech Student Draws Unwanted Attention of TSA

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Texas Tech University sophomore got caught up in school spirit and made the “guns up” salute with her hands at an airport.

The 19-year-old’s Red Raider pride wasn’t shared by the TSA at Houston’s Hobby Airport, where she was pulled out of the security line and asked to show her ID to TSA ages agents, the Houston Chronicle reports

After a quick tongue-lashing, the Houston woman was able to make her flight.

“I’ve never dealt with a situation like that before,” she told the Chronicle. “I am so very fortunate it was not worse, though. They let me off with a warning, and I made my plane on time. I know that for others the situation could have been much more serious. I feel very fortunate. The TSA officers know I meant no harm; by the end of it I think they were kinda laughing too!”


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Steve Bannon, Lewandowski to Meet with House Panel on Russia This Week

Former top aide to President Trump, Steve Bannon.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Two of Donald Trump’s most high-ranking campaign officials during the presidential campaign are expected to soon appear before the House Intelligence Committee as part of the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon plans to meet behind closed doors with the committee on Tuesday, just two weeks after the release of “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.” In the book, Bannon raises serious questions about the legality of a June 2016 meeting between the president’s  Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and a Russian lawyer, calling the gathering “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.”

Corey Lewandowski

On Wednesday or Thursday, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski plans to meet with the committee.

“The House Intelligence Committee sent me a letter asking me to voluntarily come in and have a conversation about what I know, and what I’ve responded to them is, ‘I’ll be happy to come in and sit down,'” the former Trump campaign manager told host Rita Cosby on WABC Radio

“I have nothing to hide. I didn’t collude or cooperate or coordinate with any Russian, Russian agency, Russian government or anybody else, to try and impact this election. So they asked me to come in, I said I would,” Lewandowski continued, adding that he would be able to “set the record straight.”


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