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Archive for September, 2009

Column: Would the “Rough Stuff” Have Worked Better in Interrogation of Terrorist Suspect Zazi?

spy-talk-logoBy Jeff Stein
Spy Talk
WASHINGTON — The feds cracked Najibullah Zazi without laying a hand on him, according to most news accounts.

But some people still wonder if the rough stuff would have worked better — if only to make sure he gave it all up.

They’ve got to turn off their TVs.

Today I asked two veteran counterterrorism interrogators to take me inside the room when Zazi, the erstwhile New York street peddler- turned-alleged linchpin of a countrywide terrorist plot, was being questioned.

These guys — one from the FBI, and one an Air Force interrogator who mentally sparred with al Qaeda suspects in Iraq and Afghanistan — are the real deal. They’ve spent years eyeball-to-eyeball with hardcore terrorists and assorted other psychopaths, breaking them down.

Neither of them was in the room when the FBI cracked Zazi in Denver two weeks ago. But the techniques used to peel the 25-year-old Afghan immigrant like an avocado aren’t a mystery, either.

To Read More

FBI Director Mueller Rejects Suggestions Poor Coordination Between NYPD and FBI Damaged Terror Probe

Robert Mueller III/fbi photo
Robert Mueller III/fbi photo

You would never expect the FBI’s Robert Mueller to go before Congress and point fingers at the missteps of another law enforcement agency, that is unless things really really went wrong. In this case, some things may have gone wrong, but not wrong enough to air things in public.

By EILEEN SULLIVAN
Associated Press
WASHINGTON – FBI Director Robert Mueller rejected suggestions Wednesday that poor coordination between the FBI and New York Police Department damaged the investigation of an Afghan immigrant charged with plotting a bomb attack in New York City.

Mueller also repeated previous assurances from federal and local officials that there is currently no known imminent threat to the U.S. from this case or any other.

Mueller testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee in the Obama administration’s first public appearance before lawmakers since news broke that Najibullah Zazi, a 24-year-old Denver airport driver, is suspected of plotting a terrorist attack in New York. Authorities have said Zazi admitted receiving explosives training from al-Qaida in Pakistan.

For Full Story

Read FBI Director’s Statement to Committee

Read Homeland Security Sec. Janet Napolitano’s Statement

Watchdog Group Criticizes ATF For Not Doing Enough to Crack Down on Tobacco Sales Fraud

marlboro_fullBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) lacks coordination and is not doing nearly enough to crack down on the fraud involved in the distribution and sales of tobacco that amounts to more $5 billion in lost U.S.  taxes a year and is sometimes linked to terrorism and organized crime, according to a report by the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General.

“ATF has placed a lower priority on its alcohol and tobacco diversion mission area compared with other mission areas involving firearms, arson and explosives,” the report said.

“We found that ATF’s diversion efforts are ad hoc , that ATF personnel we interviewed lacked a clear understanding of the scope of diversion activity across field divisions, and that ATF headquarters does not adequately support the field divisions’ diversion investigations.”

“In addition, we found that no systematic method exists to share intelligence or information specifically about diversion between the field and headquarters, which adds to ATF’s lack of knowledge of the overall level of diversion activity in the nation.”

Read more »

Sole Practitioner in Big Terrorism Case Seeks College Intern For Help

legalBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — Arthur Folsom, the Denver sole practitioner representing terrorist suspect Najibullah Zazi, is turning to the college set for help, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports.

Folsom, who has been criticized by some for being in over his head on this case, has placed an ad with the University of Denver Law School’s career development center for an “intern position for a current law student”, the Journal reported.

The “main responsibilities will be conducting research for a federal terrorism case.” The ad calls for “good research skills” and says experience on the federal level is preferred, the Journal reported.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Critics Complain that Boeing’s Virtual Mexican-U.S. Border Fence is Full of Holes

Border Patrol

The highly sophisticated detector equipment along the border isn’t all that sophisticated, just expensive. The Boeing Co. is getting another chance to make it right. But how much more will that cost?

By Oscar Avila
Chicago Tribune

Along the boundary between Arizona and Mexico recently, Border Patrol agent Michael Scioli weaved his SUV through unforgiving rock formations and hills of desert brush. Illegal immigrants covertly were crossing the border nearby, but Scioli’s agency doesn’t always have the manpower to know exactly where.

Scioli then passed a 98-foot-tall tower fitted with cameras, a high-tech extra set of eyes that he and other agents presumably would welcome. “Don’t have much to say about that,” the agent said tersely.

The tower is part of a network of cameras and sensors rolled out with great fanfare by Chicago-based Boeing Co. three years ago but now is largely disowned by Border Patrol agents and lambasted by lawmakers and government watchdogs.

The so-called virtual fence, which has received $500 million from the Department of Homeland Security, should have been fully in place already in southern Arizona. Instead, the department scrapped the first attempt, which cost Boeing at least $40 million in overruns.

For Full Story

Ex-FBI Agent Edwin Foltz Who Headed Up Campbell Soup Dies at Age 93

Edwin Foltz took an interesting career path, serving as an FBI agent during World War II before he eventually headed up Campbell Soup.

campbell-soup

By Sally A. Downey
Philadelphia Inquirer
PHILADELPHIA — Edwin J. Foltz, 93, a former FBI agent who became president of Campbell Soup International, died of pneumonia Thursday at Waverly Heights, a retirement community in Gladwyne.

Mr. Foltz joined Campbell Soup Co.in Camden in 1953. He was named vice president of personnel in 1958 and two years later became head of the company’s operations in Australia, Europe, and Mexico.

His daughter, Dorothy Foltz-Gray, said that when she and her siblings were growing up, they would ask him what he did at Campbell’s. “He would tell us he stirred the soup,” Foltz-Gray said, “and we wondered why he wore a suit and tie to work.” Even in his final illness he was quipping, “M’mm, m’mm good,” when he sipped soup, she said.

For Full Story

Roland Corvington Returns For Second Tour as Head of FBI St. Louis Office

Roland Corvington/fbi photo

Roland Corvington/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — Roland J. Corvington, who headed up the St. Louis FBI office from 2005 to 2007, is returning to take charge of that office once again, the FBI annnounced Tuesday.

Corvington, assistant director of the FBI’s Security Division at headquarters,replaces John Gillies, who was recently named special agent in charge of the FBI’s Miami Division.

Read more »

Column: Ex-ICE Agent Worried About Mexican Drug Cartels Getting to U.S. Law Enforcement

Marty Ficke/security debrief

Marty Ficke

By Marty Ficke
Security DeBrief

The arrest of Richard Cramer earlier this month is very disturbing news for many reasons.

Personally disturbing to me, not only because I am a former ICE Special Agent and Supervisor, but also because of the damage incidents like this have on inter-agency cooperation, and in this case, international cooperation.

It should remind all agents, officers, prosecutors, analysts, and staff of the importance and necessity to “compartmentalize” any and all information relating to sensitive investigations and law enforcement activities. It reinforces the necessity of operational security and the policy of controlling access to “on a need to know basis”.

Cramer was arrested by DEA on September 4th for his participation in a conspiracy to provide members of a Mexican drug cartel with information and background on U.S. narcotics enforcement activities.

To Read More