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Archive for August, 2008

FBI Could Get Greater Powers Under New Plan

    The reach of the FBI could get longer under a new Justice Department plan. Will it help? Does it go too far? In any event, it’s bound to cause controversy.

By Eric Lichtblau
New York Times
WASHINGTON — A Justice Department plan would loosen restrictions on the Federal Bureau of Investigation to allow agents to open a national security or criminal investigation against someone without any clear basis for suspicion, Democratic lawmakers briefed on the details said Wednesday.

The plan, which could be made public next month, has already generated intense interest and speculation. Little is known about its precise language, but civil liberties advocates say they fear it could give the government even broader license to open terrorism investigations.

For Full Story

Justice Department Will Try to Block Congress Probe in U.S. Atty. Firings

Justice lawyers said they would go to court as soon as today to block a ruling by U.S. District Judge John Bates that aims to force the Bush administration to cooperate with a congressional investigation into the politically charged firing of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006, including Seattle’s John McKay.

 For full story

New York Times Columnist Apologizes to Wrong Anthrax Suspect

Steven Hatfill

Steven Hatfill

 New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof examines the way the press covered the federal anthrax probe into scientist Steven Hatfill. Turns out Hatfill wasn’t the guy and Kristof apologizes to him.

By Nicholas D. Kristof
New York Times Columnist 
    NEW YORK —  By early 2002, it seemed clear that the United States government was muffing the anthrax investigation. Microbiologists interviewed by the F.B.I. reported that the bureau didn’t fully understand the science involved and had allowed the destruction of anthrax stocks that might have provided comparisons with the spores used in the attacks.
   In the spring of 2002, I wrote a series of columns about the anthrax investigation, including some in which I referred to a “Mr. Z” as an example of the flaws in the F.B.I.’s investigation. Some scientists had mentioned him to the F.B.I. early on as a candidate for closer scrutiny, but those trails weren’t initially followed.

    For full story

Indicted Congressman Still Shows Up For Dem Convention

      Whether it’s good for the Dems or not,  Rep. William Jefferson, who is better known for $90,000 in  his freezer than his legislative accomplishments, has made an appearance at the Democratic convention in Denver.

 

By Bruce Alpert
Times-Picayune
   DENVER — Rep. William Jefferson, D-New Orleans, facing a tough primary challenge next Saturday while under federal indictment, arrived this morning at the Democratic National Convention.
    “I wouldn’t have missed this unless I physically couldn’t do it,” Jefferson said.
   The congressman said he is worried about Hurricane Gustav and is prepared to return to New Orleans as early as Thursday morning, but wanted to be able to cast a vote for Barack Obama during tonight’s roll-call of the states.

“This is an extraordinary accomplishment on his part and I know for some people who support him it was as groundbreaking for them as it was for him,” said Jefferson of the first major party African-American presidential nominee.

Jefferson said he knows it will be a challenge for Obama to defeat Republican John McCain in November.

“It won’t be easy, of course, but I think this is the closest chance we’ve ever seen,” Jefferson said.

Did NBA Star Commit A Foul Off The Court? The FBI Wants To Know

    Detroit Pistons star Lyndsey Hunter, who is known for his hustle on the court, is now being accused of hustling someone off the court in a real estate deal. The FBI is investigating.

By David Ashenfelter
Detroit Free Press Staff Writer
     DETROIT — The FBI is investigating whether Pistons guard Lindsey Hunter and business associates duped a $35,000-a-year boiler operator for Pontiac Public Schools into buying a $1.25-million house in Bloomfield Hills that he couldn’t afford, the man’s lawyer said Monday.

U.S. Drug Czar: Venezuela Lacks Enthusiasm in Coke War

 
White House drug czar John Walters told The Associated Press that Venezuela has shown no willingness to cooperate with U.S. officials against drugs.
“Cooperation’s gotten worse and the problem’s gotten bigger,” Walters told the AP in a phone interview from Washington.

   For more: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/world/AP/story/653895.html

FBI Agent Predicted Doomsday In Mortgage Biz

   A high ranking FBI agent looked into his crystal ball and warned that authorities needed to take action to head off a disaster in the mortgage industry. Could we have been saved from this doomsday scenario we now have?
 
By Richard Schmitt
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — Long before the mortgage crisis began rocking Main Street and Wall Street, a top FBI official made a chilling, if little-noticed, prediction: The booming mortgage business, fueled by low interest rates and soaring home values, was starting to attract shady operators and billions in losses were possible.

“It has the potential to be an epidemic,” Chris Swecker, the FBI official in charge of criminal investigations, told reporters in September 2004. But, he added reassuringly, the FBI was on the case. “We think we can prevent a problem that could have as much impact as the S&L crisis,” he said.

 For more

FBI Subpoenas Fly in Oakland City Hall

Trouble is brewing in Oakland City Hall. Word is  former City Administrator Deborah Edgerly who was fired amid allegations of nepotism is at the center of it all.

By Chip Johnson
San Francisco Chronicle
OAKLAND, Calif. — Barely a month after former City Administrator Deborah Edgerly was fired amid allegations of nepotism, federal criminal authorities are circling over Oakland City Hall.
   And based on a subpoena sent to the city and whose contents I confirmed Thursday, it’s clear which people the FBI is looking at: Edgerly and three of her relatives who work for the city, as well as Edgerly’s former assistant and her son, who also is a city employee.

In a federal grand jury subpoena dated Aug. 6 and issued to the Oakland city attorney’s office, federal authorities asked for “timesheets, leave slips for sick leave, vacation, executive management or any other type leaves and pay stubs” for Oakland’s top nonelected official and the five others from January 2004 to the present.

   for more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2008/08/22/MNGC12GDIE.DTL