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Tag: FBI

Sen. Schumer Calls on FBI to Investigate FaceApp over National Security ‘Concerns’

FaceApp

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urged the FBI to investigate the popular, Russian-developed FaceApp over “concerns” that it “could pose national security and privacy risks for millions of US citizens.”

“FaceApp’s location in Russia raises questions regarding how and when the company provides access to the data of US citizens to third parties, including potentially foreign government,” Schumer wrote in a letter to the FBI and Federal Trade Commission.

He added, “Russia remains a significant counterintelligence threat.”

The app, which was the most popular free app in the Apple Store this week, provides a photo filter that transforms features of any face, like making users look younger or older.

Schumer called on the FBI to assess whether the data and images used by the app could find “its way into the hands of the Russian government.”

“It would be deeply troubling if the sensitive personal information of U.S. citizens was provided to a hostile foreign power actively engaged in cyber hostilities against the United States,” Schumer wrote.

The FaceApp’s terms of service grants the company permission to use people’s voice, name and photos for commercial purposes, even after it’s deleted.

Closing Arguments Began in Trial of Gangster Accused of Shooting FBI Agent

Ronnell Watson, via Instagram

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A U.S. attorney told a jury Tuesday to convict a reputed gangbanger accused of ambushing an FBI agent and shooting him in the back in broad daylight in Brooklyn.

“If I were to walk up behind Mr. Navarro right now and shoot him in the back, you’d think ‘he just tried to kill that guy,’” Donoghue said of his co-counsel, assistant U.S. attorney Francisco Navarro, during closing arguments in the attempted murder trial of Ronell Watson, NY Post reports.  “And you’d be right. Mr. Watson intended to kill when he aimed that loaded firearm and at Agent Harper’s back and fired.”

Watson, a reported Crips gang member, is accused of attempted murder of a federal officer, assault of a federal officer and possessing and discharging a firearm on Dec. 8, 2018. At the time, FBI Special Agent Christopher Harper was on surveillance assignment with other agents when Watson approached his vehicle.

Moments after Harper was shot, he was heard telling an NYPD office, “I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die.”

Harper survived the shooting after suffering a collapsed lung, a broken rib and fractured shoulder blade.

Defense attorney Michelle Gelernt claims his client panicked when he saw a strange car with tinted windows quickly approaching him.

“Ronell Watson was no assassin,” she said. “He’s just as afraid of agent Harper as agent Harper is of him.”

Watson faces up to life in prison.

FBI Arrests Former Top Puerto Rico Officials in Corruption Case

Puerto Rico flag.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI arrested two former top officials in Puerto Rico for allegedly directing about $15.5 million in federal funding to political connected businesses.

According to prosecutors, Julia Keleher, former secretary of the department of education, and Angela Avila-Marrero, former head of the Health Insurance Administration, illegally directed the money to contractors who paid “unauthorized commissions” to help lobby for more contracts.

Both officials served in the administration of Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, prompting officials to calls for his resignation. Among those officials is Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva, who is the chair of the Natural Resources Committee that oversees Puerto Rico.

“The Puerto Rican people deserve a government that takes public service seriously, that’s transparent and accountable, and that doesn’t let this happen in the first place,” Grijalva said in a statement.

The 32-count indictment charged four other consultants with wire fraud, theft and money laundering.

The charges come at a political sensitive time. Congress recently approved billions of dollars in aid to the island. It wasn’t immediately clear whether that money is now in jeopardy.

FBI, ICE Scan Driver’s License Databases to Conduct Facial-Recognition Searches

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have been given access to driver’s license photos to conduct facial-recognition scans without motorists’ consent.

ICE officials were authorized by three states to use the repositories of license photos to scan through facial-recognition technology in search of undocumented immigrants, according to documents obtained by Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy and Technology and first reported by The Washington Post.

The searches involved databases from Utah and Vermont, which complied with ICE’s request to access the photos. In Washington, agents also were given permission to scan license photos, but it wasn’t immediately clear if those searches were carried out.

The discovery comes as Congress considers a moratorium on facial-recognition technology because of serious concerns over privacy rights and the inaccuracy of the systems. Researchers said the technology is racially biased and prone to errors, which could lead to false arrests.

“Law enforcement’s access of state databases,” particularly driver’s license databases, is “often done in the shadows with no consent,” House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md. said in a statement to The Post.

San Francisco became the first city to ban the technology. In Detroit and Chicago, police departments have software that enables them to conduct facial-recognition searches in real-time.

FBI Investigating Stolen ‘Top Secret’ Air Force Intelligence Found in Ohio Home

NASIC on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, via Air Force.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Police investigating a marijuana grow facility in an Ohio home turned up something far more alarming – more than 1,000 pages of classified documents marked “top secret.”

The FBI has taken over the case after the Fairborn City Police Department discovered the documents in the home of Izaak Vincent Kemp, a contractor at the U.S. Air Force National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, Forbes first reported.

NASIC, an intelligent unit of the Department of Defense, handles sensitive information on foreign air, space and cyber threats.

“This case is particularly concerning given the intelligence mission, with implications across U.S. security apparatus not just housed at the base,” said Graham Brookie, a former U.S. government advisor on homeland security and counterterrorism.

Some of the documents were “related to Top Secret Special Access Programs” and were “clearly marked as classified.”

“According to the United States Air Force, Kemp was never authorized to remove the above classified information from NASIC and would have had to make a concerted effort to bypass security checkpoints,” says the warrant, obtained by ABC News.

Kemp admitted he printed the sensitive information and consented to an FBI to search of his laptop, cellphone and external hard drive, according to the warrant,

Kemp has not yet been charged with a crime.

Sen. Schumer Calls on ATF to Help Investigate Dominican Republic Deaths

Chuck Schumer, via Twitter.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Sen. Chuck Schumer is calling on the ATF and CDC to help the FBI investigate the deaths of Americans in the Dominican Republic.

“With the spate of sicknesses & deaths of New Yorkers & Americans vacationing in the Dominican Republic,” Democrat from New York tweeted, “The federal government must double its efforts on getting to the bottom of things.”

At least nine Americans have died following similar symptoms while vacationing in the Dominican Republic since June 2018.

“ATF & more CDC experts should help the FBI with fact-finding. Now,” the Senate minority leader said.

The FBI is assisting the Dominican Republic with toxicological analysis.

FBI’s Ex-Top Lawyer Blasts Trump for Claiming Mueller Broke the Law without Evidence

President Trump

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI’s former top lawyer blasted President Trump for claiming without evidence that Robert Mueller committed a crime by deleting text messages between two FBI employees.

James Baker, who was the FBI’s general counsel during the Russia investigation, said Trump’s accusations were “unacceptable.”

“Accusing Americans of crimes without a factual basis and having him just pronounce this is just unacceptable,” Baker said on CNN. “If the president thinks that Robert Mueller committed a crime, then he should direct the attorney general to conduct an investigation and then not talk about it.”

The accusations come less than 24 hours after Mueller agreed to testify before two House committees. Mueller was reluctant but said he would after receiving subpoenas.

“Mueller terminated them illegally. He terminated all of the emails,” Trump said in an interview with Fox Business. “Robert Mueller terminated their text messages together. He terminated them. They’re gone. And that’s illegal. That’s a crime.”

Trump was referring to text messages between former FBI agent Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, who were involved in a romantic relationship and swapped disparaging remarks about the president.

Insider points out that thousands of those text messages were released last year by the Justice Department’s Inspector General. A technical glitch resulted in an additional 19,000 text messages being erased.

Controversy Surfaces in Wake of FBI Officials Attending Dodgers’ Playoff Game

Dodger Stadium (deposit photo)

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Some FBI agents in the Los Angeles division have been bothered by allegations that top brass attended a Dodgers playoff game last Fall for free while the team was under federal investigation, the website, True Pundit reports.

A source confirms to ticklethewire.com that some agents were concerned about the appearance of a conflict, and said the top brass in question included three special agents in charge in the LA division– Matthew Moon, Voviette Morgan and Stephen Woolery. Other members of the FBI LA office were also there.

The matter has been the subject of a probe by the Office of Inspector General, which on Wednesday morning declined comment. The Los Angeles FBI also declined comment on Tuesday.

Top management was supposedly at the game to get briefed by law enforcement and security personal at Dodger Stadium.  One question is whether they stayed afterwards to watch the game and enjoy complimentary food, one person said.

“There were agents who were assigned to the game for special events, so the SACs (special agents in charge) had no business being there — or maybe one,” said the source who talked about agents’ concerns. “They just took advantage of the situation.”

The source went on to say that FBI management has been quick to go after agents for “unsubstantiated allegations, but they seem to be immune to the rules they’re enforcing. ”

Last October, Sports Illustrated reported that the U.S. Department of Justice had launched “a sweeping probe” into possible corruption tied to the recruitment of international players, centered on potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The Dodgers figured prominently in the probe, which is not being overseen by the LA FBI office.

The magazine also reported that multiple alleged victims of smuggling and human trafficking operations have already  given evidence to law enforcement agents or testified before a federal grand jury.

In its report, the publication, True Pundit, erroneously reported that the game in question was during the World Series. It was a post-season game, but not the World Series. Some other facts in the story were also suspect including allegations that the officials “racked up” a massive tab in freebies running into the tens of thousands of dollars.

Lawrence Berger, a New York Attorney representing the top brass in the Los Angeles FBI, tells ticklethewire.com “there’s no truth to any of the allegations in the publication. I understand the Office of Inspector General has reviewed the story and agrees that there’s nothing factual in that. But they haven’t yet issued a report.”

Sports Illustrated cited a “thick dossier of documentation”  that was provided to the FBI at the beginning of the probe and that the “Los Angeles Dodgers, a franchise with extensive scouting and development operations in the Caribbean, figure most prominently in the dossier.”

Sports Illustrated went on to report:

 Internal communications by the Dodgers show concerns about what team officials called a “mafia” entrenched in their operations in the Caribbean and Venezuela, including a key employee who dealt “with the agents and buscones” and was “unbelievably corrupt.” Other personnel were suspected of being tied to “altered books” or “shady dealings,” according to the documents.