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Archive for May 26th, 2009

Some in Little Montana Town Want to House Gitmo Detainees

Al-Qaeda Supporter Pleads Guilty After 5 Years of Legal Wrangling

st-paul-mapIt took five years of hard work  by Justice Dept. attorneys, but it has paid off with a guilty plea from an al-Qaeda collaborator. Sentencing is set for July 9th, where he could get over 12 years  for working with terrorists.

By Elizabeth Stawicki
Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL,  Minn. — A former Minneapolis man who’s been imprisoned for more than five years awaiting trial on terrorism charges has struck a plea deal with the U.S. government.

Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to provide support to a terrorist organization. In exchange, the government will drop four other charges that include providing support to a terrorist organization and lying to the FBI.

Warsame, a Canadian citizen of Somali descent, lived in Minneapolis as a community college student before he was arrested in 2003. The government later charged him with providing support to al-Qaeda, alleging he took part in military camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan; attended lectures by Osama Bin Laden; taught English to al-Qaeda operatives, and lied to the FBI.

Warsame’s lawyers say he’s spent more time in prison awaiting trial longer than anyone else in U.S. history — five and half years, primarily in solitary confinement. Warsame had maintained that he never knowingly attended an al Qaeda training camp but was on a spiritual journey seeking a “utopian” society in Afghanistan.

For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Retired Chef Mistakenly Jailed in Massive Fed Gang Round Up in Calif.

This mistake certainly doesn’t negate all the work that was done to round up this massive gang.  Nonetheless, it is an embarrassment, and a big one.

By Scott Glover
Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES — As Ramon Huerta stood shirtless and shivering in the frontla-mapyard of the Pico Rivera house he’s called home for more than four decades, the 64-year-old retired chef struggled to comprehend the questions being shouted by the heavily armed police who began pounding on his front door some time before dawn.

Where are the guns, they wanted to know. Where are the drugs?

Huerta — a soft-spoken grandfather who retired last year to care for his wife, who is battling colon cancer — said he tried to tell them he didn’t know what they were talking about, that they had the wrong man.

Nonetheless, he was handcuffed and hauled away as part of a massive gang sweep last week that federal authorities touted as the largest of its kind in the nation.

Huerta would spend the next two nights in a federal lockup in downtown Los Angeles before authorities acknowledged that “there exists the very real possibility” that he isn’t the heroin dealer they were looking for.

He was released from custody on Saturday after inquires by The Times.

For Full Story

Fed Witness in Baltimore Put in Cell With Defendants Accused of Murdering a Witness

oops-artYes, people make mistakes. But this is a bad one. Hopefully the Marshal’s office will learn from this. The upside: the  outcome could have been worse.

By Tricia Bishop
Baltimore Sun
BALTIMORE — A fight broke out (last week) in Baltimore’s federal courthouse after U.S. marshals mistakenly placed a witness in the same holding cell as the three men he was testifying against, despite a separation order requesting that they be kept apart.

The error was particularly disturbing given the nature of the case: The defendants are accused of killing a federal witness.

The U.S. Marshal’s Service refused to comment on the specific occurrence, concerned it would jeopardize the trial. But spokesman David Lutz said the protocol, if something like that were to have happened, would be “to learn from our mistakes and realize there was a break in communication and ensure something like that doesn’t happen again.”

He added: “People are people. … It’s a difficult job.”

For Full Story

Threats Against Nation’s Judges and Prosecutors Rise Sharply

U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow's Husband and Mother Were Murdered
U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow’s Husband and Mother Were Murdered

This is a dangerous trend. We’ve seen in nations like Mexico and Colombia where threats to the justice system have undermine democracy,  justice and order. The problem isn’t nearly as bad in the U.S. , but it’s still a big problem.

By Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writer

Threats against the nation’s judges and prosecutors have sharply increased, prompting hundreds to get 24-hour protection from armed U.S. marshals.

Many federal judges are altering their routes to work, installing security systems at home, shielding their addresses by paying bills at the courthouse or refraining from registering to vote. Some even pack weapons on the bench.

The problem has become so pronounced that a high-tech “threat management” center recently opened in Crystal City, where a staff of about 25 marshals and analysts monitor a 24-hour number for reporting threats, use sophisticated mapping software to track those being threatened and tap into a classified database linked to the FBI and CIA.

“I live with a constant heightened sense of awareness,” said John R. Adams, a federal judge in Ohio who began taking firearms classes after a federal judge’s family was slain in Chicago and takes a pistol to the courthouse on weekends. “If I’m going to carry a firearm, I’d better know how to use it.”

For Full Story