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Tag: Michael Kortan

ACLU Report: FBI Has No Safeguards to Protect Against Constitutional Violations

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI’s lack of safeguards in collecting suspicious activity leads to privacy violations as well as racial and religious profiling, the ACLU claimed in a new report, the Washington Post reports.

The FBI collects so-called “suspicious activity” records using the eGuardian system, which has caused confusion among different law enforcement agencies, the Post reported.

“These programs give extremely broad discretion to law enforcement officials to monitor and collect information about innocent people engaged in commonplace activities, and to store data in criminal intelligence files without evidence of wrongdoing,” the report says.

FBI spokesman Michael Kortan said the bureau has a commitment to sharing appropriate information.

“The FBI conforms to well-established authorities and safeguards in order to obtain threat information from state and local police authorities and to make that information available to other state and local police authorities, while also protecting privacy and civil liberties,” Kortan said.

The Anthrax Investigation: The View From the FBI

Michael P. Kortan is the assistant director of Public Affairs for the FBI at headquarters in Washington.

Michael Kortan (left) talking to ex-FBI Dir. Louis Freeh /fbi file photo

By Michael Kortan
N.Y. Times Letter to the Editor

WASHINGTON — I take issue with several points in your Oct. 18 editorial “Who Mailed the Anthrax Letters?”

First, the National Academy of Sciences report concluded that the anthrax in the mailings was consistent with the anthrax produced in Dr. Bruce Ivins’s suite. The report stated, at the same time, that it was not possible to reach a definitive conclusion about the origins of the samples based on science alone. But investigators and prosecutors have long maintained that while science played a significant role, it was the totality of the investigative process that ultimately determined the outcome of the anthrax case.

Further, scientists directly involved in the lengthy investigation into the anthrax mailings — both from within the F.B.I. and outside experts — disagree with the notion that the chemicals in the mailed anthrax suggest more sophisticated manufacturing.

To read the rest click here.

Chief FBI Spokesman Challenges NY Times Editorial on FBI Policy

Michael Kortan is assistant director for public affairs for the FBI in Washington. His letter to the editor is in response to a June 19 Editorial in the New York Times.

Michael Kortan (left) talking to ex-FBI Dir. Louis Freeh /fbi file photo

By Michael P. Kortan
New York Times Letter to Editor

WASHINGTON — The purpose of the attorney general guidelines and F.B.I. policy contained in the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide is to ensure that F.B.I. activities are conducted with respect for the constitutional rights and privacy interests of all Americans.

Although an effort is under way to revise the prior version of the guide, contrary to the editorial’s statements, the revision will not provide “agents significant new powers.”

The editorial notes that currently specialized surveillance squads may be used only once during an assessment but that the new guide will allow repeated use.

What the editorial does not mention is that surveillance, whether conducted by a specialized squad or a single agent, is tightly controlled during assessments. It can be authorized only for very limited periods of time, and any extension must be separately justified and approved.

To read more click here.

Federal Agencies Praise America’s Most Wanted Day After Fox Cancels Show

Michael Kortan (left) talking to ex-FBI Dir. Louis Freeh /fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Federal agencies on Tuesday tipped their hats to America’s Most Wanted, one day after Fox announced it was canceling the show after 23 years.

“For 23 years, John Walsh and the ‘America’s Most Wanted’ team have worked tirelessly to make communities across the country safer and more secure,” Michael Kortan, chief FBI spokesman said in a statement to ticklethewire.com.

“More than 550 fugitives sought by the FBI have been arrested or located as a direct result of their hard work, including 17 individuals who were on the FBI’s “Top Ten Most Wanted” list.”

Jeff Carter/facebook photo

“Few television shows have aired for so long. Even fewer have provided such a worthy public service, or have made such a lasting impact on the American public. John and his team have always understood the power of the people in helping to bring criminals to justice. Their tenacity, their unwavering dedication to victims of crime and violence, and their commitment to law enforcement will be missed.”

Jeff Carter, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service, also praised the show, saying:

“America’s Most Wanted has been a valued partner for the U.S. Marshals Service for the 23 years that it’s been airing.  We’ve worked very closely with them over the years. They’ve been a real asset to us.”

Fox said that the show had not been profitable for quite a while.

OTHER SHOWS OF INTEREST

Musical Chairs Expected at FBI Headquarters With Departure of Pistole

Shawn Henry /fbi photo

Shawn Henry /fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Expect a game of musical chairs over at FBI headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue now that the number two person John Pistole has left the agency and Timothy Murphy, the number three person, has replaced him.

Nothing has been announced yet, but the rumors are circulating. Here’s one set of rumors — and I emphasize “RUMORS” at this point.

Kevin Perkins/fbi photo

Kevin Perkins/fbi photo

Thomas J. Harrington, the FBI’s number four person, might take over the number three spot that had been occupied by Murphy.

Now here’s the part that gets interesting.  Under the rumor scenario, Shawn Henry, a rising star in the FBI, who  took over the Washington field office as the assistant director in charge early this year, might return to headquarters and replace Harrington as the Executive Assistant Director over Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch.

Then Kevin Perkins, who heads up the Criminal Investigative Division at headquarters, would head up the Washington field office. At this point, it’s only rumors.

Timothy Murphy/fbi photo

Timothy Murphy/fbi photo

Michael Kortan, the FBI’s chief spokesman at headquarters, declined to comment on Monday.  And some of the agents, who are subject of the rumors, did not immediately respond to emails for comment.

Pistole’s departure set the stage for what’s to come. He was recently confirmed as head of the Transportation Security Administration.

Head of NY FBI Under Internal Investigation in Connection With an Alleged Affair With Underling and Statements About It

Joseph Demarest Jr/fbi photo

Joseph Demarest Jr/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Joseph M. Demarest, Jr., the head of the New York FBI, the agency’s largest office, is under internal investigation in connection with an alleged affair he had with an underling in management, sources familiar with the situation told ticklethewire.com., which broke the story.

Demarest, who has headed the New York office since January 2009,  has been temporarily assigned to headquarters in Washington while the Office of Professional Responsibility investigates the matter, sources said.

As a key part of the probe, according to sources,  investigators are trying to determine how truthful Demarest  was about the matter when he was questioned about it internally.  A website Main Justice reported that his version differed from the woman he had the affair with, and that the probe had been going since January.

A confirmed misconduct in the bureau can result in action ranging from a reprimand to a firing to a forced resignation or a demotion.

It is fairly common for high-ranking FBI officials in the field to be brought back to Washington on a temporary assignment while they are  under internal investigation.  In the past, some of those officials were eventually cleared of wrongdoing.

Demarest began his career with the FBI in 1988 after serving as a Florida sheriff”s deputy for five years. An FBI press release in 2006 said he was married with two children, but he reportedly is no longer married.

Demarest, through a spokesman, declined to comment Thursday.

Michael P, Kortan, the FBI’s chief spokesman, declined to comment on the report. However, he emphasized that Demarest remains in charge of the New York office.

He also said that Demarest was on temporary assignment in Washington to help further develop an FBI management system known as Strategy Performance Sessions (SPS). The program helps monitor and evaluate investigative programs, with an emphasis on the collection of intelligence.

He said Demarest was one of the people who helped originally develop the program for the FBI and his office in New York was noted for having a strong SPS management program.