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Archive for November 17th, 2009

Report Says U.S. Ports Still Wide Open to Nukes

This seems like it would be a higher priority. Or so it seems. Disturbing to know there hasn’t been more done in this area. Columnist Jeff Stein lays it out in this report.

Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein

By Jeff Stein
Spy Talk Columnist

WASHINGTON — Over $3 billion and seven years since U.S. intelligence discovered al Qaeda kingpin Osama Bin Laden was seeking a nuclear bomb, terrorists can still drive a radioactive truck through the holes in America’s border defenses, a government watchdog agency suggested Tuesday.

“The polyvinyl toluene (PVT) portal monitors CBP currently uses for this screening can detect radiation but cannot identify the type of material causing an alarm,” the Government Accountability Office’s top nuclear detector expert told a House panel.

“As a result, monitors’ radiation alarms “can be set off even by shipments of bananas, kitty litter, or granite tile because these materials contain small amounts of benign, naturally occurring radioactive material.”

For Full Report

Controversial Pitts. U.S. Atty. Mary Beth Buchanan Leaves Office

Bush Holdover U.S. Atty. Mary Beth Buchanan

Bush Holdover U.S. Atty. Mary Beth Buchanan

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Going, going , GONE.

Controversial U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan of Pittsburgh left office on Monday. The Bush-appointed U.S. attorney, who had been in office since 2001,  has been rumored to be considering a run for the 4th Congressional District seat in Pennsylvania, which includes Pittsburgh suburbs and Lawrence, Mercer and Beaver counties.

In any event, don’t  expect to see her fade away into the sunset.

She generated plenty of controversy over the years, including when she prosecuted comedian Tommy Chong on drug paraphernalia charges.

Robert S. Cessar has been named acting U.S. attorney, according to the U.S. Attorney web page.

To Read More click here.

Ex-New Orleans FBI Chief Bernazzani Finds Pen Is Mightier Than the Gun in Youth Initiative

James Bernazzani, who once headed the New Orleans FBI,  spent so much time over the years fighting the bad people. Now he’s trying to make sure some of youth in New Orleans don’t turn into those people he battled for so many years.

James Bernazzani/agency photo

James Bernazzani/agency photo

Sheila Stroup
New Orleans Times-Picayune

NEW ORLEANS — You might wonder why a retired FBI agent who spent much of his career working on terrorist investigations would want to run a nonprofit group aimed at saving the young people of New Orleans.

James Bernazzani, 54, thinks the Youth Rescue Initiative is a great fit for him.

“I’m using a lot of the skills I learned in my 24 years with the FBI,” he says. “But instead of carrying a weapon, I carry a pen.”

For Full Story

Last-Minute Objections Being Raised About Iowa U.S. Atty. Nominee Stephanie Rose

iowa-map
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Some last-minute objections have surfaced against Stephanie Rose, who has yet to be confirmed by the Senate for the  U.S. attorney’s post in northern Iowa, the New York Times is reporting.

Some defense attorneys are voicing concern about assistant U.S. Attorney Rose’s  leading role in the prosecution of  hundreds of illegal immigrants busted in May 2008 raid at a kosher meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, the Times reported.

“But some defense and immigration lawyers have said that felony identity-theft charges against the immigrants were excessively harsh, that immigration lawyers were not given adequate access to their clients, and that improper contact took place between prosecutors and one judge. They contend that possible civil rights and ethical violations by prosecutors should have been investigated,” the Times reported. She has been confirmed by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

To read more click here.

Feds Say Suburban D.C. Cop Drove Bank Robber in His Patrol Car

SunTrust
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — This may not be in the Prince George’s County police manual, but it goes without saying that using the police cruiser to pull off a bank robbery is frowned upon.

Prince George’s County Police Officer Eddie Lee Smith Jr., 41, was indicted by a federal grand jury on conspiracy to commit bank larceny and attempted bank larceny charges after he allegedly used his patrol car to try to pull off a robbery, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Monday.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office,  Officer Smith drove accomplice Earl Blake, 53, in his police cruiser to the Sun Trust Bank in Temple Hills, Md., a suburb of Washington,  on June 10, 2009.

Blake entered the bank with a power saw. The phone lines had been cut and a fire alarm went off, authorities said. Officer Smith remained in his patrol car.

When the fire department arrived, Officer Smith told them to leave and assured them he had already checked out everything, authorities said.

Meanwhile, Blake ran from the bank and Officer Smith chased after him before giving up. Officer Smith then got in his car and left. Other police later arrested Blake, authorities said.

Alaska U.S. Attorney Opens Juneau Office

alaska map
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alaska, the Frontier State, is spreading its wings.

Come next month, it will open a new office in Juneau, the state capital, the Juneau Empire reports.

Former Juneau Assistant District Attorney Jack Schmidt, 38, was recently hired to work in that office, which will be housed in the Federal Building. Meanwhile, Schmidt is working out of the FBI office, the Empire reported.

“He’s already working, we just don’t physically have the space yet,” Alaska U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler told the Empire.

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