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Tag: travel

Ways President Trump Could Stop Draining the Secret Service

secret-servic-via-secret-serviceBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump, whose frequent vacations and large family have drained the Secret Service budget, could take simple steps to relieve the burden on those hired to protect him.

The USA Today spoke with former Secret Service officials and ethics experts to list ways Trump could save the agency money. 

Among the ideas is spending more time at the White House.

“That would help solve the problem,” said John Magaw, a former Secret Service director.

Since taking office, Trump has travel a total of a dozen times to both his estate in Mar-a-Largo, Fla., and his Bedminister, N.J., golf club.

Another solution would be declining his children protection.

“I don’t see any way for the government to avoid these security expenditures, unless the family declines the protection services,” said Scott Amey, chief counsel at the nonpartisan Project on Government Oversight. “The Secret Service, like all federal agencies, has a budget and it must operate within the limitations of that budget.” 

Some of Trump’s children frequently travel to promote Trump-branded properties around the world, and they’re using the Secret Service for protection.

Fox News Columnist: TSA Should Stop Discriminating Against Gun Owners

airport-people-walkingBy Diane Black
Fox News

If you have followed the news headlines lately, you know that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) – the bureaucracy responsible for ensuring the safety of our nation’s travelers – has seen better days. An internal investigation released in June found that the TSA had a stunning 96 percent failure rate in detecting weapons and fake explosives.  More recently, a report from “The Today Show” revealed that NBC producers were able to pass airport security with Swiss army knives and box cutters in tow. Comforting, huh?

While knives and weapons may make it past airport security all too often, your handgun carry permit – a government-issued form of identification – will not. I speak from personal experience. On a recent flight from Nashville to Washington, I approached the TSA counter only to realize my drivers’ license was tucked away in a pocket of my jeans at home. Unfazed, I pulled out my handgun carry permit to identify myself to the agent. The card bears my picture, my full legal name, my date of birth, and a hologram with the state seal.

Further, as any firearm owner knows, the process of obtaining your handgun license is significantly more involved than obtaining a drivers’ license. It requires completion of a safety course, a fingerprint, and a thorough background check. If that’s good enough to carry a weapon, then surely it is sufficient as a form of identification to board a plane, right?

Wrong. As I handed over my permit, I was met with a look of immediate disapproval. The TSA agent informed me that handgun licenses are banned as a form of identification. After a moment of panic, I showed the agent my Congressional voting card and boarded my flight, but I vowed to do my research on the subject upon returning to Washington.

As it turns out, the TSA agent was correct. Their website explicitly states that “A weapon permit is not an acceptable form of identification” so I decided to determine what is allowed under TSA standards. According to federal law, the criteria for a “verifying identity document” is “an unexpired document issued by a U.S Federal, State, or tribal government” that includes your full name, date of birth, and photograph … In other words, everything that is on my handgun carry permit.  Compounding my frustration were the reports earlier this year that TSA was accepting Costco membership cards as a form of identification. Double standard much?

To read more click here. 

Head of House Homeland Security Committee Warns of ‘Gaping Holes’ for Terrorism

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The U.S. is vulnerable to attack on the scale of the one in Paris because of “gaping holes” in security, the head of the House Homeland Security Committee warned Sunday, The Hill reports. 

“There are a lot of holes — gaping holes,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“We have hundreds of Americans that have traveled” to Iraq and Syria, he added. “Many of them have come back as well. I think that’s a direct threat.”

McCaul said he is concerned with how easily Europeans and Americans can travel to Iraq and Syria.

He also expressed concerns about terrorists slipping into the U.S. by posing as Syrian refugees.  t

“This causes a great concern on the part of policymakers, because we don’t want to be complicit with a program that could bring potential terrorists into the United States,” McCaul said.

Other Stories of Interest

Texas Man Accused of Lying to FBI about Joining ISIS

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Texas man has been arrested after lying to the FBI about his allegiance to ISIS, according to a criminal complaint.

NBC DFW reports that Bilal Abood, 37, of Mesquite, faces up to eight years in prison for making a false statement to the FBI. http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/FBI-Mesquite-Man-Pledged-Allegiance-to-ISIS-Leader-303803121.html

A licensed security guard, Abood was born in Iraq and moved to the U.S. in 2009, becoming a naturalized American citizen.

Abood was captured while trying to travel from D/FW International Airport, where he told officials he was going to visit family. The FBI said he was actually going to fight for ISIS.

The complaint alleges that Abood admitted planning to go to Syria to fight with the Free Syrian Army.

TSA’s List of Suspicious Behaviors Is Revealed As ACLU Sues for Document

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

What do airport screeners look for when they are trying to detect suspicious behavior?

The suggestions are part of the TSA’s controversial behavior-detection program, Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques, which outlines suspicious actions.

Although the TSA considers the list of behaviors to be confidential, it was posted online.

The ACLU, which is concerned that the list encourages racial and ethnic profiling, is suing the TSA to force the release of details of the program, The Washington Post wrote.

Here are some of the suspicious behaviors: tightly gripping a bag, appearing disoriented and whistling.

“Airports are rich environments for the kind of stress, exhaustion, or confusion that the TSA apparently finds suspicious, and research has long made clear that trying to judge people’s intentions based on supposed indicators as subjective or commonplace as these just doesn’t work,” Hugh Handeyside, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project, said in a statement.

FBI Director Robert Mueller Concedes Slip-up on Boston Bomber’s Travel

Robert Mueller

By JOSH GERSTEIN
Politico

WASHINGTON — The terrorist tracking task force in Boston failed to act on notices that one of the alleged Boston Marathon bombers had traveled to and from Russia last year, FBI Director Robert Mueller told lawmakers Thursday.

Mueller said the authorities would “do better” next time in following up on such information.

Mueller said that before Tamerlan Tsarnaev went to Russia in early 2012 a member of the Joint Terrorism Task Force got a notification from a database known as TECS (formerly the Treasury Enforcement Communications System). Tamerlan’s travel was being flagged because of information the Russian intelligence service gave the FBI in 2011 that he’d become more religious and was interested in joining Islamic radical groups in Russia.

To read more click here.

 

Read his statement Thursday before  the Senate Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies

Good morning Chairwoman Mikulski, Ranking Member Shelby, and members of the subcommittee. I look forward to discussing the FBI’s efforts as a threat-driven, intelligence-led organization that is guided by clear operational strategies and priorities.

The FBI has established strong practices for sharing intelligence, leveraged key technologies to help us be more efficient and productive, and hired some of the best to serve as special agents, intelligence analysts, and professional staff. We have built a workforce and leadership cadre that view change and transformation as a positive tool for keeping the FBI focused on the key threats facing our nation.

Just as our national security and criminal adversaries and threats constantly adapt and evolve, so must the FBI be able to quickly respond with new or revised strategies and operations to counter these threats. Looking forward, a key challenge facing the FBI will be maintaining its current capabilities and capacities to respond to these threats at a time when the budgetary environment remains constrained.

We live now, and will for the foreseeable future, in a time of acute and persistent threats to our national security, economy, and community safety from terrorists, foreign adversaries, criminals and violent gangs, and cyber attackers. The attacks in Boston are vivid examples of the threat. This subcommittee understands these threats—and the consequences of failing to address them. I look forward to working with the subcommittee to ensure that the FBI maintains the intelligence, investigative, and infrastructure capabilities and capacities needed to deal with these threats and crime problems within the current fiscal climate. One lesson we have learned is that those who would do harm to the nation and its citizens will exploit any weakness they perceive in the ability and capacity of the U.S. government to counter their activities. We must identify and fix those gaps while not allowing new weaknesses or opportunities for terrorists, cyber criminals, foreign agents, and criminals to exploit.

The FBI’s fiscal year (FY) 2014 budget request totals $8.4 billion in direct budget authority, including 34,787 permanent positions (13,082 special agents, 3,026 intelligence analysts, and 18,679 professional staff). This funding level provides critical funding to address threats posed by terrorists, cyber attackers, and criminals.

The threats facing the homeland, briefly outlined below, underscore the complexity and breadth of the FBI’s mission to protect the nation in a post-9/11 world. Let me briefly summarize the key national security threats and crime problems that this funding supports.

 National Security Threats

 Terrorism

We have pursued those who committed, or sought to commit, acts of terrorism against the United States. Along with our partners in the military and intelligence communities, we have taken the fight against terrorism to our adversaries’ own sanctuaries in the far corners of the world—including Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Southwest Asia, and the Horn of Africa. We have worked to uncover terrorist cells and supporters within the United States and disrupted terrorist financial, communications, and operational lifelines at home and abroad. We have built strong partnerships with law enforcement in countries around the world.

The threat from terrorism remains complex and ever-changing. We are seeing more groups and individuals engaged in terrorism, a wider array of terrorist targets, greater cooperation among terrorist groups, and continued evolution and adaptation in tactics and communication.

Threats from homegrown terrorists are also of great concern. These individuals are difficult to detect, able to connect with other extremists, and—in some instances—highly capable operationally. There is no typical profile of a homegrown terrorist; their experiences and motivating factors are distinct. Many questions remain as to the precise motivation, planning, and possible support to the attacks in Boston. However, it is increasingly likely that the Boston attacks may prove to be the latest example of homegrown extremism.

Radicalization to violence remains an issue of great concern. Many factors appear to contribute to radicalization here at home, and those factors may explain why radicalization is more prevalent now than in the past. First, American extremists appear to be attracted to wars in foreign countries. We have already seen a number of Americans travel overseas to train and fight with extremist groups. The increase and availability of extremist propaganda in English perpetuate the problem.

Read more »

Attorney Gen. Eric Holder Under Fire for Use of FBI Jet

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Congressional Republicans are questioning why Attorney General Eric Holder is using the FBIs jet for business and personal travel, the Washington Post reports.

Lawmakers sent a letter Thursday to FBI Director Robert Mueller, saying the federal agencies operate on different budgets.

“It is our understanding that the Justice Department does not reimburse the FBI, or other components, for its executive travel expenses even though the Justice Department maintains its own travel budget,” the letter states, according to the Washington Post.

Republicans questioned whether the use of the jet hampered the agency’s readiness.

“We heard troubling allegations that the Attorney General is among those who have reserved and used FBI planes for his own travel when aircraft were needed for FBI missions, then upgraded to a larger aircraft owned by a different agency and left the FBI plane sitting idle,” the lawmakers wrote

Mary Beth Buchanan Chalked Up $450,000 in Travel As U.S. Attorney; Feds Change Travel Rules

 Mary Beth Buchanan

Mary Beth Buchanan

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Mary Beth Buchanan was quite the jet setter during her eight-year reign as U.S. Attorney in Pittsburgh.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that she spent more than half of her time as the U.S. attorney on the road, taking at least 347 trips. The total cost: $450,000. She stepped down in November.

In March, the paper reported, the Justice Department changed the rules, requiring that out-of-district travel get the ok from the director or deputy director of the executive office.

“The previous policies and procedures were admittedly inconsistent,” Justice spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz told the paper. “Changes to the process were made to ensure full compliance with departmental travel policies and procedure and to strengthen controls and oversight of U.S. attorney travel.”

To read more click here.