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Archive for September 16th, 2009

D.C. Sniper Muhammad Has a Date With Death

John Allen Muhammad

John Allen Muhammad

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — Convicted D.C. area sniper John Allen Muhammad, who went on a killing spree in 2002, terrorizing the Washington region  and sending local and federal law enforcement on a wild manhunt, has a date with death.

Prince William County Circuit Judge Mary Grace O’Brien in Northern Virginia on Wednesday set his execution date for Nov. 10 by lethal injection, the Associated Press reported.

Muhammad, 48, along with his teen partner Lee Malvo, killed 10 people. He lost an appeal last month at the appeals court level. Malvo is serving a life sentence.

Muhammad’s death sentence is tied to the fatal shooting of Dean Meyers at a gas station in Virginia. He is expected to ask the governor for clemency and appeal to the Supreme Court to try and head off the execution.

The execution would take place at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, Va.

Ex-Fed Prosecutor Emerges As Lead Contender For D.C. U.S. Atty Post

Ronald Machen

Ronald Machen

All across the country candidates are emerging for the many U.S. Attorney posts that need to be filled. In Washington, D.C., former federal prosecutor Ronald Machen has emerged as the likely person to become the next U.S. Attorney, according to the Washington Post. The position is currently being filled by interim U.S. Attorney Phillip Channing, a career prosecutor who was among the candidates being considered for the permanent post.

By Del Quentin Wilber and Keith L. Alexander
Washington Post
WASHINGTON — Ronald C. Machen, a former federal prosecutor, has emerged as the leading contender to be the next U.S. Attorney in the District, according to sources close to the selection process.

Machen was the top choice of Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) when she submitted the names of three candidates to President Obama several weeks ago, sources said.

For Full Story

FBI Dir. Mueller Says No Imminent Security Threat Tied to High Profile Raids in N.Y.

It was reassuring to hear the head of the FBI say there is no imminent security threat tied to the latest raids in New York and the FBI activity in Denver. On another subject, Mueller did essentially confirm a report that the FBI and ATF still need to correct some problems involving cooperation.  No surprise here. But it’s nice to see him publicly acknowledge the problem. Click here for the AP report on that issue.

Robert Mueller III

Robert Mueller III

By Jeremy Pelofsky
Reuters
WASHINGTON – FBI Director Robert Mueller said on Wednesday there was no imminent security threat related to an investigation that included raids of New York homes this week in an apparent search for homemade explosives.

“I do not believe there is imminent danger from that particular investigation,” Mueller said in response to a question from New York Senator Charles Schumer. He declined to elaborate on the investigation.

A joint anti-terrorism task force carried out raids on Monday in the Queens borough of New York, in an area believed to have been visited by a man suspected of sympathizing with al Qaeda. The raids rattled some residents as they came just days after the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

For Full Story

Read Mueller’s Statement to the Senate Judiciary

Poor Billionaire Allen Stanford Gets Public Defender

R. Allen Stanford/bbc news photo

R. Allen Stanford/bbc news photo

Poor billionaire Allen Stanford. Assets frozen, stuck behind bars. Now he’s getting a federal public defender. Some people think public defenders provide second-rate legal representation. But truth be told, federal defenders around the country generally have a very good reputation and often provide better representation than some highly paid attorneys.

Brenda Sapino Jeffreys
Texas Lawyer

R. Allen Stanford has new lawyers, but they are not from Patton Boggs, which announced in late July it was replacing Houston criminal defense attorney Dick DeGuerin as the Houston financier’s criminal defense firm.

On Tuesday U.S. District Judge David Hittner of the Southern District of Texas granted DeGuerin’s motion to withdraw as Stanford’s criminal defense attorney. He appointed the federal public defender’s office to represent Stanford after determining that Stanford does not have money immediately available to pay for private attorneys.

In July, DeGuerin of DeGuerin & Dickson in Houston asked to be let out of the case because DeGuerin wanted assurance that he will be paid. Lawyers from Washington, D.C.-based Patton Boggs announced in late July they were representing Stanford, but they have not formally entered the case because they also want assurance they will be paid.

For Full Story

Lack of Authority, Funding and Bad Image Hurt Mexican Police in Drug War

How can you battle the violent drug cartels when you have police departments that are powerless and underfunded like this? The Mexican president hopes to change some of this. We’ll see if he can pull this off.

mexico-map-istock

By Chris Hawley
Arizona Republic Mexico City Bureau
URAUPAN, Mexico — One of the police station’s doors is riddled with bullet holes. Shrapnel from grenades has scarred nearby walls. Inside, a makeshift shrine to the Virgin Mary honors officers who have lost their lives fighting drug traffickers.

So far, it has been a one-sided battle. The police force in Uruapan, a city of 280,000 that sits astride a major smuggling route in the Sierra Madre, doesn’t have a single detective. Mexican law prevents local police from questioning witnesses, doing undercover work or searching homes. The department is so cash-strapped that officers must buy their own bullets, at about 75 cents a pop, for target practice.

“We’re the ones out there every day, the easy targets for the drug traffickers,” says Police Chief Adolfo Medina, whose own house was strafed with gunfire in March. “But we’re handicapped.”

That may be changing. As Mexico’s U.S.-funded drug war reaches new levels of violence, President Felipe Calderon’s government has launched a $1 billion drive to train and equip beleaguered local police forces.

For Full Story

Task Force Recommends Simplifying Terror Color Code Alert

The color coded alerts that were meant to help Americans became almost meaningless and were the subject of many jokes. This is a good time to change this. And it’s a good thing a bipartisan task force is looking at this. This town needs more bipartisan cooperation.

By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writer
color-codesWASHINGTON — A bipartisan task force recommended Tuesday that the Obama administration simplify and reset the U.S. government’s iconic color-coded terrorism warning system to the lowest of three new levels, if it keeps using levels at all.

The findings, which Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said she will share with the White House and national security officials, could lead to substantial changes to a widely panned but politically sensitive tool created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to alert the nation to threats.

For Full Story

Colo. Man at Center of Terror Probe Says “I’m Not a Terrorist”

Hopefully in short time we’ll get a clearer picture as to what was going on here. Meanwhile, the New York Daily News reports that the FBI is mad at the New York Police for conducting raids and blowing the investigation before more could be learned. Click here to learn more on that.

fbi-logo

By James Gordon Meek,Judith Crosson, Simone Weichselbaum, Rocco Parascandola, Larry Mcshane and Bill Hutchinson
New York Daily News

The Colorado man who triggered a terror scare in New York that led to a rash of raids in Queens insisted Tuesday night, “I’m not a terrorist.”

Even as Najibullah Zazi, 25, of Aurora, Colo., professed his innocence, counterterrorism agents eyed him as part of the first suspected Al Qaeda cell they’ve uncovered in the U.S. since 9/11.

For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Senate Confirms Six More U.S. Attorneys Including One Fired in 2006

Daniel Bogden/utlaw-edu

Daniel Bogden/utlaw

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — Slowly but surely, U.S. Attorneys are being confirmed.

On Tuesday, the Senate confirmed six more including Daniel Bogden, the Nevada U.S. Attorney who was fired in 2006 during the controversial purge of U.S. Attorneys who didn’t fall in line with the Bush administration’s mindset.

Other U.S. Attorneys confirmed included Steven Dettelbach for Northern Ohio; Carter Stewart for Southern Ohio; Peter Neronha for Rhode Island; Dennis Burke for Arizona, a former senior adviser for Homeland Security chief Secretary Janet Napolitano; and Neil MacBride for Northern Virginia.