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Tag: Homeland Security

Homeland Security Warns of Extremists Attacking U.S. During Coronavirus Pandemic

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security is warning law enforcement officials nationwide that violent extremists may carry out attacks against the U.S. in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The agency sent law enforcement officials the intelligence bulletin, compiled by the Counterterrorism Mission Center and Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office. The memo was obtained by ABC.

“Violent extremists probably are seeking to exploit public fears associated with the spread of COVID-19 to incite violence, intimidate targets and promote their ideologies, and we assess these efforts will intensify in the coming months,” the intelligence bulletin states.

So far, the department said it has “no information indicating any active plotting is underway.”

But the agency said foreign and domestic extremist groups are trying to spread misinformation about the pandemic.

FBI Director Chris Wray, in a video message, said the bureau is increasing its monitoring of potential threats against the U.S.

“With all the worry and uncertainty out there, we want the public to know that there are still things they can count on: We’re here, and we’re going to stay here, to protect them, no matter what,” Wray said. “Because our criminal and national security adversaries sure aren’t going to take a day off – whether that’s for the coronavirus or, for that matter, anything else.”

Earlier this month, the FBI alerted local police that some white supremacist groups are encouraging members to weaponize the coronavirus by spreading it to cops and Jews. These extremists are directing their followers who get infected with coronavirus to spread it by employing methods that include using spray bottles with their bodily fluids, according to the alert.

Records: At least 13 Homeland Security Officials Tested Positive for Coronavirus, Nearly 500 More Are Quarantined

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The coronavirus has hit federal Homeland Security employees hard.

At least 13 employees for the agency have been confirmed or presumed positive for COVID-19, but only eight of those cases – all TSA screeners – have been publicly disclosed, according to documentation obtained by POLITICO.

The records also show that nearly 500 Homeland Security employees have been quarantined.

Homeland Security officials declined to comment for the story.

The risk to federal workers is high because many of the more than 240,000 Homeland Security employees are still working and in close proximity to the public.

“The department’s leadership is going to have to pay very close attention as this public health crisis evolves,” John Cohen, former acting undersecretary of intelligence and analysis., told POLTICO. “It has to be concerned that its ability to carry out its core mission could be compromised if there’s a widespread outbreak of the virus among DHS personnel. And quite frankly, that’s something that federal, state, and local officials need to be concerned about across the board — that this virus will spread among first responders, law enforcement, and Homeland Security personnel, compromising the ability of those organizations to protect the public.”

Biden Campaign Officially Asks for Secret Service Protection As He Surges in Primary

Former Vice President Joe Biden

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden has officially requested Secret Service protection.

A congressional aide told CNN on Thursday that Biden’s campaign has “submitted a formal request for USSS protection.”

For a candidate to receive protection from the Secret Service, Homeland Security must conduct a threat assessment that will be reviewed by top leaders in Congress: Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy.

Biden’s campaign declined to comment.

Ex-DHS Inspector General Charged with Stealing Government Software And Databases

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security’s former acting inspector general has been indicted on charges of stealing government proprietary software and databases containing personal information on more than 250,000 government employees – all in an effort to elevate his private business.

Charles K. Edwards, who was tasked with exposing waste, fraud and abuse as acting inspector general from 2011 to 2013, was indicted on 16 counts, Washington Post reports.

His 54-year-old former subordinate, Murali Yamazula Venkata, also was charged with similar crimes and destroying records.

Edwards, 59, of Sandy Springs, Md., and Venkata are accused of conspiring to steal property information from the inspector general’s office from October 2014 to April 2017. Prosecutors say the theft enabled Edwards’ company, Delta Business Solutions, to sell an enhanced version to the Agriculture Department.

The DHS and Postal Service investigation is ongoing.

Homeland Security Closes Washington State Facility over Coronavirus Fears

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Department of Homeland Security temporarily closed one of its facilities in Washington state and directed employees to self-quarantine for two weeks after one of its employees visited a nursing home impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

The 14-day closure of a Citizenship and Immigration Services field office in Seattle was made “out of an abundance of caution,” Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf told the House Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday, CNN reports.

Before an outbreak was reported at the Life Care Facility in Kirkland, Wash., Wolf said an employe visited a family member there. Four deaths from the coronavirus are tied to the nursing home and rehabilitation facility.

“I am pleased to report that this employee embodied what it means to lead by example,” Wolf said. “The employee and their family took every precaution and followed the guidance of public health officials. They stayed home from work when they felt ill, the family self-quarantined, and reported the exposure and their condition to their employers and other officials.”

The employee went to work before exhibiting “flu-like symptoms four days after visiting the nursing home,” Acting Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli wrote in a series of tweets Tuesday morning.

Cuccinelli said the department “takes the safety & health of our employees & applicants seriously.”

“We’re following CDC’s guidelines & encourage all employees and applicants to stay home if they are feeling ill or exhibiting any flu-like symptoms,” Cuccinelli wrote.

Homeland Security employees are being asked to “telework.”

Cuccinelli Won’t Step Down As DHS Deputy Secretary After Judge’s Ruling

Ken Cuccinelli

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Ken Cuccinelli, an immigration hardliner, is refusing to step down as deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security after a federal judge said his appointment violated federal law.

Cuccinelli insists his appointment was appropriate.

“The succession for the deputy secretary of homeland security ties back to my official position as the principal deputy at USCIS [U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services], there’s not a problem with me at my current position,” Cuccinelli said on Fox and Friends Monday after initially laughing at the news. “The only issue in the case is related to being the acting director at USCIS. And this ruling is really something of an outlier. This is a methodology that has been used in the past. It’s been thought of as legal as — pretty broadly.”

A federal district court judge in Washington D.C. ruled that Cuccinelli, a 51-year-old former attorney general, failed to meet the requirements in the Federal Vacancies Reform Act to secure the job.

The judge said Cuccinelli was illegally appointed to lead a department agency, a move that the Trump administration believed made him qualify for his current job.

It wasn’t immediately clear how the judge will respond to Cuccinelli’s refusal to step down.

Trump Hires Julia Nesheiwat as White House Homeland Security Adviser

White House Homeland Security Adviser Julia Nesheiwat.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

President Trump has hired Florida’s chief resilience officer to be his White House homeland security adviser.

Julia Nesheiwat, a former U.S. Army captain with an extensive military background, will be the fourth person to fill the position since Trump was elected, Politico first reported. She replaces Rear Adm. Peter Brown, who lasted about six months on the job.

Dough Fears and Tom Bossert also held the position.

Neishewat had served as deputy special presidential envoy for hostage affairs for four years.

In Florida, Neishewat prepared for natural disasters.

Neishewat’s military background includes tours in Afghanistan Iraq. She is fluent in Arabic, Japanese and Spanish.

Trump split up the Homeland Security Council and National Security Council soon after he became president. The national security adviser is Robert O’Brien, who worked with Neishewat at the State Department.

White House Taps Chad Mizelle As Top Acting Attorney at Homeland Security

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Chad Mizelle, who has been serving as chief of staff of the Department of Homeland Security, has been named the agency’s top acting attorney, CNN reports.

Mizelle was previously the counsel to the deputy attorney general at the Justice Department.

“I am confident that Chad will lead the Office of General Counsel with great honor and will continue to provide sound advice and counsel to Departmental leadership,” Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said.

In his new role, Mizelle will oversee 2,500 attorneys and take charge of legal issues.

A 2013 graduate of Cornell Law School, Mizelle also was a volunteer attorney for the Trump campaign.