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Archive for August 20th, 2009

No Surprise: Tom Ridge Says He Was Pressured to Raise Terror Alert Before 2004 Election

Just as we suspected. There was something fishy about the code orange alerts. Sure it’s hard to believe politics could play into this all in a town like Washington where we know everything is above board and transparent.

Tom Ridge/gov photo

Tom Ridge/gov photo

By DEB RIECHMANN and EILEEN SULLIVAN
WASHINGTON — Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge claims in a new book that he was pressured by other members of President George W. Bush’s Cabinet to raise the nation’s terror alert level just before the 2004 presidential election.

Ridge says he objected to raising the security level despite the urgings of former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, according to a publicity release from Ridge’s publisher. He said the episode convinced him to follow through with his plans to leave the administration; he resigned on Nov. 30, 2004.

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FBI Dir. Robert Mueller Criticizes Release of Libyan Convicted in Lockerie Bombing

panamBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III responded to Scotland’s  release  on Thursday of the Libyan convicted in the Lockerbie bombing of Pan Am flight 103,  saying he was “deeply disappointed” and figured the man had served less than 14 days in jail per victim.

“We are deeply disappointed over the decision to release Abdel Basset Mohamed al-Megrahi from prison,” Mueller said in a prepared statement. “Mr. Megrahi’s guilt was firmly established by the court. His conviction resulted in a life sentence for his part in the loss of 270 innocent lives, including 189 Americans.”

“He never admitted to his role in this act of terrorism, nor did he or the government of Libya disclose the names or roles of others who were responsible,” Mueller said. “In a case of mass murder over Lockerbie, Mr. Megrahi served less than 14 days per victim. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those victims today, for the ongoing pain and loss caused by this horrific attack.”

Scottish authorities released the terminally ill Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, a former Libyan intelligence agent, on compassionate grounds, according to media reports.  He was convicted in 2001  in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 that exploded over the town of Lockerbie in December 1988.

Ten Mexican Drug Cartel Leaders Among 43 Indicted in U.S. Crackdown

As violence spins out of control in Mexico and across the U.S. border, these type of indictments are good. But there’s so many other folks out there willing to take over the lucrative drug trade. In other words: Both countries have to keep plugging away.

mexico-border-sign

By James Vicini and Jeremy Pelofsky
Reuters
WASHINGTON – Ten accused Mexican drug cartel leaders were among 43 defendants charged with conspiring to smuggle billions of dollars worth of cocaine into the United States, but most of them remain at large, U.S. authorities said Thursday.

The United States, which has been seeking to crack down on drug trafficking and violence along the border with Mexico which has escalated recently, seeks the forfeiture of more than $5.8 billion in drug proceeds as part of the charges.

They announced the charges brought in New York and Chicago against the accused leaders and other high-ranking members of several of Mexico’s most powerful drug cartels, along with other Mexican and U.S. defendants.

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Read Justice Dept. Press Release

Board Finds Ex-D.C. Fed Prosecutor Was Dishonest and Broke Law

It’s nearly impossible to have a spotless record when you have so many federal prosecutors around the country. Still, it’s no excuse and instances like this certainly don’t help promote public faith in the system.

scales-of-justice1

By Mike Scarcella
The BLT: The Blog of LegalTimes

A former federal prosecutor in Washington was dishonest, interfered with the administration of justice and committed a crime when he doled out thousands of dollars in federal witness money to jailed informants and to individuals who were not in fact witnesses, according to a professional responsibility hearing committee in the District of Columbia.

The two-person Board of Professional Responsibility hearing committee, however, split on its recommended sanction against former assistant U.S. attorney G. Paul Howes, who now works in the San Diego offices of Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins.

Howes, who prosecuted complex drug gang cases in Washington during the city’s crack cocaine epidemic, was an assistant U.S. attorney between 1984 and 1995. Howes’ alleged misconduct has led to reduced prison sentences for at least nine defendants-several of whom were serving life sentences. The cases at issue were prosecuted while now Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. was U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.

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Fed Law Enforcement Launches Effort to Track Dangerous “Lone Wolf”

Sure, some fringe organizations scare the public and federal law enforcement. But it’s the lone wolves– those that go off on their own — that really scare the feds. Those people are too often invisible and fly under the radar.

wolf

By Kevin Johnson
USA TODAY

Federal authorities have launched an effort to detect lone attackers who may be contemplating politically charged assaults similar to the recent murders of a Kansas abortion doctor and a Holocaust museum security guard.

The effort, known as the “Lone Wolf Initiative,” was started shortly after President Obama’s inauguration, in part because of a rising level of hate speech and surging gun sales.

“Finding those who might plan and act alone, the so-called lone offenders … will only be prevented by good intelligence, the seamless exchange of information among law enforcement at every level, and vigilant citizens reporting suspicious activity,” said Michael Heimbach, the FBI’s assistant director for counterterrorism.

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Ex-Syrian Soldier Busted in Weapons Deal With Colombian Terrorists With Help of DEA Informants

An interesting exchange: weapons for cocaine. Obviously, two valuable products.

gun

By ANAHAD O’CONNOR
New York Times
NEW YORK — A former member of the Syrian military was charged in New York on Wednesday with plotting to sell high-powered weapons to Colombian terrorists in exchange for more than a ton of cocaine.

According to federal prosecutors, the man, Jamal Yousef, had plans to supply rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, with an enormous cache of weapons that included 100 M-16 assault rifles, 100 AR-15 rifles, 2,500 hand grenades, C-4 explosives and antitank munitions.

He was unaware that the men claiming to be FARC representatives were informants for the Drug Enforcement Administration, the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan said in its indictment.

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You Say Tomato: The Feds Say Bribery, Misleading Labels, Inferior Quality

Good to see the feds cracking down on this type of activity. Frankly, it’s appalling that people would pass on inferior products and mislabel them.Fresh tomatoe

Bob Egelko
San Francisco Chronicle
SACRAMENTO — A former official of a major California tomato processor has agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy charges involving bribes paid to food companies, the first charges against a senior executive of the firm at the center of a federal corruption investigation, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Jeffrey Beasley, former vice president for industrial sales at SK Foods in Monterey, will admit that he took part in plans to pay the bribes and ship tomato products with misleading content labels, inferior quality and inflated prices, the U.S. attorney’s office in Sacramento said.

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Justice Dept. Nazi Hunters Widen Net As Nazis Die Off

As the last of the Nazis die off, this Justice Dept. unit is widening the net and widening the mission to focus more on war crimes beyond World War II.

John Demjanjuk/msnbc

John Demjanjuk/msnbc

By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — Earlier this year, 400 miles from downtown Washington, a Gulfstream IV jet carrying one of the country’s most infamous accused war criminals prepared to take flight as Justice Department prosecutors watched via a live television feed.

The target of their rapt attention: onetime Nazi concentration-camp guard John Demjanjuk, 89, who had outlasted a generation of American lawyers vying to deport him from the United States for allegedly lying about his role in the Holocaust.

One attorney in the department’s elite Office of Special Investigations died of cancer, another perished in an airplane crash and others had retired from public service in the nearly three decades since the investigation began.

“Even as the plane took off, I thought, ‘Something’s going to happen,’ ” recalled OSI Director Eli Rosenbaum. “Because that was the case for so many years, where if something could go wrong, it did go wrong.”

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