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Archive for October 4th, 2008

FBI Testing Atty-Client Privilege In Maryland Probe

The FBI is stepping into some unchartered territory in the probe into a state senator. Attorneys are up in arms over what the FBI is seeking.

Sen. Ulysses Currie/senate photo

Sen. Ulysses Currie/senate photo

By John Wagner
Washington Post Staff Writer
As part of an ongoing probe of Sen. Ulysses Currie, federal prosecutors are seeking to force the lawyer who gives ethics advice to the Maryland General Assembly to testify before a grand jury, a move that state lawyers have vigorously resisted as a breach of attorney-client privilege.
A subpoena served on William G. Somerville, the legislature’s ethics counsel, sought testimony and “any and all” documents related to paid consulting work performed for a grocery chain by Currie, a powerful Prince George’s County Democrat.
Somerville’s job, which the legislature created as part of a 1999 ethics reform package, requires him to provide private counsel to legislators on potential conflicts of interest arising from their outside business dealings. The position is considered unique among state legislatures.
Currie’s work for Shoppers Food and Pharmacy, which was not disclosed in ethics filings, is the focus on an investigation that became public in May when FBI agents raided Currie’s home and the company’s Lanham headquarters.
In a letter to federal prosecutors, state lawyers representing Somerville wrote in July that he declined to testify because his conversations with Currie, the chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, are considered privileged under Maryland law.
For Full Story

Bet On It: Mob Museum Will Open in Las Vegas

Las Vegas has a museum you can’t refuse. Even the FBI is backing it.

Al Capone/fbi photo

Al Capone/fbi photo


By Oskar Garcia
Associated Press
LAS VEGAS--The Las Vegas City Council unveiled the name of its planned mob museum this week, along with logos resembling court documents with material blacked out – The (redacted) Museum: The Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement.
The first redaction obscures the word “mob.”
Mayor Oscar Goodman, a former criminal defense lawyer who represented organized crime figures before representing voters in City Hall, has pushed for the museum since 2002. It is expected to open in spring 2010 in downtown Las Vegas, at the site of a former federal courthouse where Goodman tried his first case.
As city officials unveiled the plans, council members tossed around T-shirts that said: “There is no such thing as a mob museum nor have I ever been there.”
Plans for the museum are supported by the FBI, which has pledged to locate organized crime artifacts in Washington and lend them for displays. The former head of the Las Vegas FBI office, Ellen Knowlton, is chairwoman of the museum’s board.
For Full Story

Justice Releases Details On New FBI Powers

The ongoing yin and yang between law enforcement and civil liberties groups continued to rear its head Friday  as the Justice Department released new guidelines for FBI powers.

Atty. Gen. Muskasey/doj photo

Atty. Gen. Muskasey/doj photo

By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON– Justice Department officials released new guidelines yesterday that empower FBI agents to use intrusive techniques to gather intelligence within the United States, alarming civil liberties groups and Democratic lawmakers who worry that they invite privacy violations and other abuses.
The new road map allows investigators to recruit informants, employ physical surveillance and conduct interviews in which agents disguise their identities in an effort to assess national security threats. FBI agents could pursue each of those steps without any single fact indicating a person has ties to a terrorist organization.
Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey said the guidelines are necessary to fulfill the FBI’s core mission to predict threats and respond even before an attack takes place. The ground rules will help the bureau become “a more flexible and adept collector of intelligence,” as independent commissions urged after the strikes of Sept. 11, 2001, Mukasey said in a statement yesterday.
For Full Story

Joint Statement From Atty. Gen. Michael Mukasey and FBI Director Robert Mueller III

Justice Department’s Fact Sheet On New Guidelines