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Tag: free speech

FBI Agent Files Suit Over Bureau for Allegedly Violating His Free Speech Rights

courtroomBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An FBI agent who was suspended after he alerted a judge to alleged prosecutorial misconduct by the New Orleans U.S. attorney’s office, has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the bureau and several superiors.

Special Agent Mike Zummer claims in the federal lawsuit that he was disciplined after sending a letter to U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt over the agent investigation of a former Louisiana district attorney accused of trading sex for leniency in more than a dozen cases, WWL-TV reports

Zummer was suspended Sept. 30, 2016, without pay after he said he spoke out about the DOJ’s failure to full prosecute former St. Charles Parish District Attorney Harry Morel.

Zummer expressed disgust when the judge was only sentenced to three years in prison last year as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors on charges of obstructing a federal investigation.

In a ruling last year, the judge said Zummer raised “legitimate concerns” about the Justice Department’s leniency within its ranks.

FBI Director Comey Compares Twitter to ‘Every Dive Bar in America’

FBI Director James Comey.

FBI Director James Comey.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director James Comey compared Twitter to a “dive bar” where everyone is yelling their opinions.

During a speech to the Anti-Defamation League on Monday, Comey said he doesn’t tweet but he does scan Twitter to see what people are saying about the FBI, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports

“It feels like I’m all of a sudden immediately in every dive bar in America, where I can hear everybody screaming at the television set,” Comey said. “But it is free speech; you don’t have to like it; you don’t have to agree with it, but we will protect it.”

Blogger Charged with Threatening to Kill FBI Agents Is Released After Jury Deadlocks

courtroomBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An Orange County, Calif., blogger accused of threatening to behead and slit the throats of FBI agents was acquitted on some charges, and jurors were deadlocked on others.

U.S. District Judge Josephine L. Staton declared a mistrial and ordered Peter Ronald Wexler to be released, CNN reports. 

Wexler, 50, testified that he intended to be provocative in his posts by using sarcasm and hyperbole, but he did not intend to convey serious threats against the agents.

Prosecutors had to convince jurors that Wexler’s comments were “a serious expression of an intent to physically harm or murder” the agents.

“Mr. Wexler is very happy about today’s results,” Wexler’s attorney, Caleb Mason, said. “He’s very glad the justice system has worked so far.”

Wexler once wrote: “Is it murder to kill an FBI Pig who knocks on your door without a warrant?” Wexler allegedly wrote in a blog post. “I think not.”

Justice Department Blasts Police for Violating Rights During Ferguson Protests

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The Justice Department blasted the police response to the Ferguson protests and riots, saying police violated free-speech rights, antagonized and intimidated crowds with military-style tactics and protected officers from being held accountable, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

The police were accused of “vague and arbitrary” orders to force protesters to move, which “violated citizens’ right to assembly and free speech,” according to a DOJ reported to be issued soon.

“Had law enforcement released information on the officer-involved shooting in a timely manner and continued the information flow as it became available, community distrust and media skepticism would most likely have been lessened,” according to the document.

The report also said police sometimes indiscriminately used tear gas.

The DOJ also suggested that police stop using dogs for crowd control because it antagonized and scared protesters.

The full report, which is still being finalized, contains about 45 “findings” with recommendations for improvements.

Other Stories of Interest


Justice Department Threatens to Prosecute Supporters of ISIS on Social Media

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

As ISIS turns more to social media to recruit future terrorists, the Justice Department made clear that it would prosecute people who help the extremists spread the message, The Daily Beast reports.

What remains unclear is where the government where draw the line between free speech and support of a terrorist group.

Intelligence experts say ISIS’ propaganda campaign, which includes posting beheading videos, has been at least partly effective.

John Carlin, the assistant attorney general for national security, said social media has provided “essentially a free form of communication that you can use to plot and plan.”

Other Stories of Interest


Homeland Security Reaches Agreement with Washington Times After Improper Record Seizure

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security reached a rare settlement with a newspaper after seizing a reporter’s notes and records from her home while executing a warrant for information on guns allegedly possessed by her husband, the Washington Times reports.

The agency agreed to reimburse some of the legal bills accred by the newspaper and the reporter, Audrey Hudson, whose home was raided in August 2013 and her notes and records on the problems inside the Federal Air Marshal Service seized.

“While the settlement payments cover just a fraction of the legal bills we accrued, the fight was, in the end, about protecting a journalist’s right to keep her sources confidential and to engage in the First Amendment protected activity of reporting without unwarranted government intrusion,” said Larry Beasley, the president and chief executive officer of The Times.

Hudson said she hopes the settlement puts an end to similar seizures.

“The importance of this case was that we just were not going to let it stand, the idea that federal officers at will could confiscate a reporter’s notes without any sort of subpoena or search warrant seeking the notes or even directed at the reporter,” Ms. Hudson said.

Homeland Security also returned documents and other notes to Hudson.

Homeland Security did not return calls from the Washington Times for comment.

Tech Companies Urge Congress to Shed More Light on Secret Information Requests

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

More than two dozen companies and numerous trade groups are endorsing bills that would open more light on the government’s secret information requests, the Verge.com reports.

The businesses and trade groups are showing their support for bills that would allow them to reveal when they receive requests for national security-related data.

Among those who signed the letter to Congressional members are Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.

Those same companies have been forced to turn over information without the ability to disclose it.

The argument is that barring the disclosure of information to users violates free speech rights.

Anti-DEA rants on Facebook Were Threatening and Specific, Judge Decided

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An Indiana man who posted vague but violent threats against DEA agents on Facebook is headed to trial after a judge last week rejected a free speech defense, CNET reports.

In August 2011, Matthew Michael is accused of writing a series of angry posts about DEA agents.

“War is near,” he wrote on Facebook. “Anarchy and justice will be sought…I’ll kill whoever I deem to be in the way of harmony to the human race…BE WARNED IF U PULL ME OVER!”

CNET said U.S. District Judge William Lawrence rejected the defense’s notion that no law was broken because the threat wasn’t specific to anyone.

Lawrence disagreed, saying threats “were directed at natural persons, namely DEA agents.”

Michael is charged with three counts of transmitting threats in interstate commerce.