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A Department of Defense (DOD) contractor has been charged with passing highly classified information, including the names of human intelligence sources, to a foreign national with apparent ties to a foreign terrorist group.

Mariam Taha Thompson, 61, who formerly resided in Rochester, Minnesota, was charged on Wednesday for transmitting highly sensitive classified national defense information to a foreign national with alleged connections to Hezbollah.

The 61-year-old allegedly began accessing the classified information on or about Dec. 30, a day after U.S. airstrikes against Iranian-backed forces in Iraq, investigators said in an affidavit (pdf). It was also the same day protesters stormed the U.S. embassy in Iraq. Thompson allegedly accessed approximately 57 files concerning human intelligence sources, including true names, personal identification data, background information, and photographs of the human assets, and operational cables detailing information the assets provided to the U.S. government during a six-week period from Dec. 30, 2019, and Feb. 10, 2020. Prosecutors said Thompson had no need to access such information.

Investigators searched Thompson’s living quarters on Feb. 19 and found a handwritten note in Arabic hidden under her mattress. The note contained DOD classified information, identifying the human sources by name. It also had a warning for a DOD target who has ties with Hezbollah, along with instructions that the human sources’ phones should be monitored, the affidavit said. Agents confirmed that the human sources named in Thompson’s note were collecting information for the U.S. government and that the information found on the note was classified at the “Secret” level, meaning that “unauthorized disclosure reasonably could be expected to cause serious damage to the national security.”

Thompson was subsequently arrested by FBI Special Agents on Feb. 27 at a U.S. military facility at Erbil, Iraq, where she worked as a linguist. She also held a Top Secret government security clearance and had access to Top Secret information.

When questioned by FBI investigators, Thompson admitted that she had passed the classified information in the note to a co-conspirator, who she admitted was a romantic interest, upon the person’s request. Investigators alleged that Thompson knew that the co-conspirator was a foreign national whose relative worked for the Lebanese government. The investigation found that the co-conspirator has apparent ties with Hezbollah.

Investigators say that Thompson also admitted to providing to the co-conspirator information of another human source and the information the source had provided to the United States along with information regarding the techniques used to gather information for the United States.

“While in a war zone, the defendant allegedly gave sensitive national defense information, including the names of individuals helping the United States, to a Lebanese national located overseas,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said in a statement.

“If true, this conduct is a disgrace, especially for someone serving as a contractor with the United States military. This betrayal of country and colleagues will be punished,” he added.

If convicted, Thompson faces a maximum sentence of life. She was scheduled to make an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robin M. Meriweather on Wednesday.

Author: Janita Kan

Source: The Epoch Times: DOD Linguist Charged With Giving Highly Classified Intel to Foreigner With Alleged Ties to Hezbollah

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has responded to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) after she commented on the mass shooting in Virginia beach that killed 12 people, blaming the gun rights group for the “epidemic of gun violence in this country.”

“I am outraged and heartbroken. How much longer will we ignore the pain of our communities? We need to immediately confront the power of the NRA and end the epidemic of gun violence in this country,” Omar wrote hours after the mass shooting occurred.

Responding to her comment, NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch questioned the Democratic congresswoman how the group was related to the gunman’s alleged act.

“This was a heinous tragedy. Your remarks move me to ask: What do 5 million members of the NRA have to do with this man’s crime? Was this man a card-carrying member? His purchases were legal, whose fault is that? Does he bear any blame at all? Serious questions,” Loesch said.

The suspect gunman, who has been identified as city employee DeWayne Craddock, opened fire in Building Two, a municipal building, killing 12 people and leaving at least four others wounded. The horrific incident lasted about two hours, police said.

Virginia Beach Police Chief James Cervera said during a news conference that Craddock had been a longtime public utility employee who was described as “disgruntled.” Authorities did not go into any more details into the attack or provide any motive.

“We have more questions than we really have answers,” he said.

Craddock, 40, was killed during gunfire with police after the mass shooting. He had no criminal record apart from a traffic infraction in 2013. A policeman was also wounded during the shooting but was saved by his bulletproof vest, reported Fox News.

Along with Loesch, Omar’s comments also attracted backlash from other people on social media.

“This woman is a propagandist – the NRA and its members had nothing to do with the VA Beach attack. IlhanMN political perspective is the equivalent of the ACLU in defending the 1st amendment being blamed for ANTIFA violence – it is that level of insane,” Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, president of The London Center for policy research, wrote.

“You are not ‘outraged’ nor are you ‘heartbroken.’ If you were you would not have said anything about the .NRA. You are using the tragic deaths of innocent people to forward your anti-American political goals,” author Montgomery Granger wrote.

This is not the first time Omar has blamed the group for gun violence. After the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, Omar took to Twitter to criticize the NRA, saying that they were the “true enemy.”

“Prayers and condolences won’t keep our kids safe, sensible GunLaws will. It’s time for you and Republicans to put the safety of Americans first and seek freedom from the NRA. They are the true enemy!” Omar wrote.

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Author: Janita Kan

Source: The Epoch Times: Ilhan Omar Blames NRA for Virginia Beach Shooting, NRA Responds

President Donald Trump reached an agreement with two House committees to delay the enforcement of subpoenas seeking his financial records from two banks.

In a joint court filing (pdf) on May 25, attorneys for President Donald Trump and the House Intelligence and Financial Services committees asked a federal court judge to put on hold the court proceedings pending the outcome of an appeal case.

“The parties jointly ask this Court to stay further proceedings in this case until Plaintiff’s interlocutory appeal from the denial of their motion for a preliminary injunction is resolved,” the joint filing states.

The document further reads that “the parties have reached an agreement regarding compliance with and enforcement of the subpoenas during the pendency of Plaintiffs’ appeal.”

On May 22, District Judge Edgardo Ramos, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, refused to block the subpoenas served to the two banks requiring them to hand to Congress the president’s banking and financial records, including “records of every single checking withdrawal, credit-card swipe, or debit-card purchase—no matter how trivial or small—made by each and every member of the Trump family,” a lawsuit filed by the Trump family stated.

The lawsuit was filed at the end of April to block the two banks from complying with the subpoenas. Trump’s lawyers argued that the Democrat-controlled House committees’ demands for records have no legitimate or lawful purpose and are so broad they would include transaction records on the Trump family’s personal shopping.

Following Ramos’s ruling, Trump’s lawyers filed an appeal on May 24 with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of Trump, his children—Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and Ivanka Trump—and several of their companies to overturn the federal judge’s ruling (pdf).

President Donald Trump talks to reporters while departing the White House in Washington on May 24, 2019. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The House committees’ subpoenas for Trump’s bank records are part of one of three investigations launched by key House committees in April. The other probes are seeking the president’s tax returns and the full declassification of the partially redacted Mueller report.

Since gaining the majority in the House of Representatives, House Democrats have initiated 10 inquiries targeting Trump as well as his family, business dealings, current and former associates and White House staff.

Trump and Republicans view the investigations as a way to further obstruct Trump’s agenda, unearth embarrassing information on the president and his family, and score political points for the 2020 elections. In response, Trump has said he plans to fight “all the subpoenas” by House Democrats.

Days before the deal on the bank records, the House Intelligence committee struck a deal with the Justice Department in a standoff over a request for the full unredacted report by special counsel Mueller and the underlying foreign intelligence and counterintelligence documents. The Justice Department agreed to turn over the underlying documents in exchange for a delay for an unspecified “enforcement action” by the committee.

Democrats ramped up the intensity of their investigations of the president after Mueller concluded there is not enough evidence to establish that Trump colluded with Russia. Mueller also decided against charging the president with obstruction of justice.

Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.

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Author: Janita Kan

Source: The Epoch Times: Trump’s Lawyers Come to Agreement With House Committees to Hold Off on Subpoenas

Border Patrol has identified over 3,000 fraudulent family unit cases in the past six months, highlighting how U.S. immigration law deficiencies are being taken advantage of by cartels and smugglers.

“It’s very clear that the cartel and smugglers know the weaknesses in our laws. They know that family units and unaccompanied children will be released with no consequences for their illegal entries,” acting Department of Homeland Security chief, Kevin McAleenan, said at a press conference on April 17.

McAleenan, who took over as department head after Kirstjen Nielsen’s resignation, was visiting the U.S.-Mexico border near McAllen, Texas. He said illegal immigrants are going to great lengths to seek asylum in the United States, by engaging in what he called child recycling rings, reported Texas Public Radio.

U.S. Border Patrol agents detained two large groups of illegal immigrants consisting of over 400 people within five minutes in the El Paso area on March 19, 2019. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

“The same child is brought across the border with an adult multiple times to try and gain that release that family units are required under court order,” McAleenan said.

He reiterated that the immigration system is full and again urge Congress to make changes to immigration policies, reported KVEO.

McAleenan drew attention to the seriousness of the border crisis stating that a total of more than 4,800 illegal immigrants crossed the border on April 16, which he described as “a new record for the modern era.”

“Almost 1,000 of them crossed in just three large groups. 375 people in the largest of those groups,” he said.

Earlier this month, CBP said agents encountered over 103,000 individuals on the southwestern border in the month of March. Of those were 92,000 border patrol apprehensions—which is an increase of 35 percent compared to February.

The agency also said that for the first half of the 2019 fiscal year, agents arrested over 385,000 individuals at the southwest border, which is more than double the apprehension during the same period last fiscal year.

Some Central American immigrants told KGBT that they were making the trek to the United States because they had seen advertisements in their local newspaper and television stations promoting better opportunities and free help from the United States if they enter illegally.

“The whole world knows, they put it in the news. They tell us everywhere if you come to the United States, they’ll help you,” said a Honduran woman, who was arrested at the border near the Rio Grande Valley, told KGBT.

A Guatemalan pastor, who was also arrested, said the same thing.

“Yes, we’ve been told that we read it on our newspapers. That’s why we’re here,” the pastor said.

New Tactics Used by Smugglers Discovered

Officials said in a statement on April 17 that the agency discovered a new tactic of counter-surveillance used by smugglers to help illegal aliens cross the El Paso sector.

One agent, who was monitoring the border at night, spotted a small airborne object—which appeared to be a drone—traveling northbound across the border. The object traveled about 100 yards into the United States before returning back to Mexico and repeated this pattern three times.

On the third time it returned to Mexico, a group of 10 illegal aliens was seen entering into the United States in the same area as the small device. The group of migrants was subsequently then taken into custody.

“This is the first known time in recent history that a drone has been utilized as a ‘look-out’ in order to aid in illegal entries in the El Paso Sector,” the statement said.

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Author: Janita Kan

Source: Theepochtimes: Over 3,000 Fraudulent Family Cases Identified by Border Patrol

A prominent Democratic congresswoman has weighed in on the recent developments of Jussie Smollett’s case, saying that the Illinois state prosecutors made the right move to drop the actor’s charges.

In an interview with Extra, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said she thought it was the “correct” thing for prosecutors to drop 16 felony counts against Smollett. The “Empire” actor, who is black and gay, was accused of faking a hate crime against himself and blaming it on supporters of President Donald Trump.

“It’s the correct thing that the charges were dropped,” Waters told the entertainment website, during an interview after she was honored with the NAACP Chairman Award. Smollett was also nominated but did not win the best-supporting-actor award.

“First of all, we probably will never know all of the details. We’ve heard a lot of information. No one was hurt—that is, physically, killed, shot—he never committed a crime before, he forfeited the bail and it’s this kind of situation where they close the case all over the country every day. I have learned this isn’t unusual.”

The congresswoman, who made headlines herself last year for making violence-inciting comments, went on to surmise that the case attracted a lot of attention because of Smollett’s “talent.” She said, “[H]e’s an extremely talented man who people have come to love because he is on TV.”

Smollett claimed that he was attacked by two white men on Jan. 29 in downtown Chicago, but police later arrested two black Nigerian-Americans for the alleged attacks. The two men told authorities that Smollett paid them to pull off the supposed hate crime.

Actor Jussie Smollett leaves the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago on 26, 2019, after prosecutors dropped all charges against him. (Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

The 36-year-old actor was arrested in mid-February on charges of filing a false police report.

Joe Magats, the assistant state attorney who made the decision, told the New York Times that they did not exonerate Smollett. Instead, he said the decision was made in exchange for the actor completing community service and forfeiting his $10,000 bond.

The decision to drop all charges against Smollett received public backlash and condemnation from Chicago officials.

Chicago police officials and Mayor Rahm Emanuel were furious after the charges were dropped, with the mayor calling it a “whitewash of justice.”

The Illinois Prosecutors Bar Association has also criticized the Cook County State’s Attorney’s handling of Smollett’s case.

“The manner in which this case was dismissed was abnormal and unfamiliar to those who practice law in criminal courthouses across the State,” the association that represents nearly 1,000 prosecutors across the state said in a statement on March 28. “Prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges alike do not recognize the arrangement Mr. Smollett received.”

“Even more problematic, the State’s Attorney and her representatives have fundamentally misled the public on the law and circumstances surrounding the dismissal,” they added.

Moreover, President Donald Trump said the FBI and Department of Justice will review the unusual agreement, which didn’t include Smollett admitting to any wrongdoing.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx speaks at a news conference in Chicago, on Feb. 22, 2019. (Kiichiro Sato/AP Photo)

In response to the public’s concern, lead prosecutor Kim Foxx said in an opinion piece on March 29 that she welcomed an outside investigation into her office for the decision to dismiss the actor’s charges.

NTD News reporter Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.

Follow Janita on Twitter: @janitakan

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Author: Janita Kan

Source: Theepochtimes: Maxine Waters Says Prosecutors Did ‘Correct Thing’ by Dropping Jussie Smollett’s Charges

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