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Tag: Washington Times

Washington Times: Why Homeland Security Is Sad Place to Work

By The Washington Times
Editorial Board

No department of the government has a mission more important than the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), created after Sept. 11, 2001 to defend and protect the towns and cities, the farms and factories of the American homeland. It ought to be one of the most attractive places in Washington to work, inspired by pride and sacrifice to deliver a job well done. But it isn’t. It’s one of the worst.

By one measure it has succeeded beyond bureaucratic dreams. The department has grown to encompass 22 agencies, with 168,000 full-time permanent employees. Armies become lean and mean when they fight on home soil, but this bureaucracy has become fat and forlorn. A survey by the Partnership for Public Service to determine the best place to work among large federal agencies ranks the Department of Homeland Security dead last. Both Democrats and Republicans in both the House and Senate are trying to find out why.

The bureaucrats have resorted to the usual “studies” and “task forces” to find out why everyone in the place is so sad. If that doesn’t answer the questions, they will commission another study to find out why the first study failed. Millions have been spent on these studies already.

Techdirt, an independent blog about the bureaucracies, reports that employees complain that “senior leaders are ineffective; that the department discourages innovation, and that promotions and raises are not based on merit. Others have described in interviews how a stifling bureaucracy and relentless congressional criticism makes DHS an exhausting, even infuriating, place to work.”

Now even Congress has noticed. The Washington Post reports that Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, a Democrat, last week wrote to ask Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to account for how the study money was spent. “The volume of reports that DHS has commissioned to address these issues is concerning,” she wrote, “and morale continues to remain low in the department. It is unclear who is commissioning these reports and who, if anyone, is reading them.” She is the ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. She wants answers by March 27, and asked Mr. Johnson “to provide costs and details of all studies DHS has done on employee morale in the past five years; the names and titles of each official who approved the studies; the recommendations they made and whether any were implemented, and whether any of the more recent studies were approved by [Mr.] Johnson or his appointees.”

To read more click here.

Other Stories of Interest


 

FBI Evidence-Handling Controls Considered Too Lax, Could Jeopardize Drug Cases

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Serious questions have been raised about the FBI’s evidence-handling controls that could be used by defense attorneys to seek reversals on convictions, The Washington Times reports.

The problem: The FBI doesn’t have video cameras in some of its evidence rooms, including the Washington field office.

The issue was raised by 13 defense attorneys handling a drug conspiracy case.

The attorneys made the revelation in court filings involving Matthew Lowry, an FBI agent accused of stealing seized heroin.

“If there’s a problem in the FBI evidence room, and it’s just a room with shelves and anybody can walk in and out, that would have huge implications as far as the trustworthiness of evidence,” defense lawyer A. Eduardo Balarezo said in an interview.

According to Balarezo, Lowry checked out evidence without any stated purpose.

While cameras aren’t required for evidence room, they are the best way to protect the integrity of evidence, said Joe Latta, executive director for the International Association for Property and Evidence Inc.

“If you look at general law enforcement, I’d say more don’t have video surveillance than do,” Latta said. “Should they? Absolutely. But the evidence room is sometimes low on the food chain in the organization.”

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.

Washington Times Sues Homeland Security for Confiscating Reporter’s Notes

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Washington Times has sued Homeland Security after federal agents seized a reporter’s notes, the Associated Press reports.

The suit accuses federal agents of illegally seizing the materials during a search warrant over a gun and potato launcher allegedly possessed by the reporter’s husband.

Now the newspaper wants the notes back and said they were not covered by a search warrant.

Washington Times to Sue After Homeland Security Seizes Notes, Records from Reporter’s Home

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Washington Times is planning to sue the federal government after armed Homeland Security agents raided the home of a reporter and seized her notes, the newspaper reports.

Reporter Audrey Hudson is an award-winning reporter who has exposed problems in the Homeland Security Department’s Federal Air Marshals Service.

She said agents seized her private notes and records that she had obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Included in the notes are identities of her sources, the Times reported.

The Times plans to file a lawsuit, saying the federal government violated Hudson’s constitutional rights.

“While we appreciate law enforcement’s right to investigate legitimate concerns, there is no reason for agents to use an unrelated gun case to seize the First Amendment protected materials of a reporter,” Times Editor John Solomon said. “This violates the very premise of a free press, and it raises additional concerns when one of the seizing agencies was a frequent target of the reporter’s work.

Former Marine Wins Release from Psychiatric Care Over Facebook Message

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

 A judge ruled Thursday that authorities must release from a psychiatric hospital a former Marine under FBI investigation for posting anti-government messages on Facebook, the Washington Times reports.

Prince George County Circuit Judge W. Allan Sharrett ordered the release of Brandon Raub because there was not sufficient basis to hold him.

Raub, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, came under FBI investigation after people reported he wrote anti-government messages on Facebook, according to the Washington Post.

Family and supporters said the FBI and magistrate trampled his First Amendment Rights.

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