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Archive for February 22nd, 2010

NY Fed Grand Jury Sends Toyota Subpoenas

ToyotaBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — Over the years, Toyota’s catchy slogans have included: “Oh, what a feeling!”; “I love what you do for me, Toyota! and “Who could ask for anything more”.

Now of days, it may be something like: “Seriously, We’re Sorry!”

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the auto giant, which has given American auto companies a major heartburn, has gotten federal grand jury subpoenas from the security fraud unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York and from the Securities Exchange Commission in connection with the recall of its autos.

Ex-Phone Worker Hit With 3-Plus Years For Helping Tap Phones of the Rich and Famous for Rogue Hollywood Detective Pellicano

telephoneBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Anthony Pellicano case just keeps giving.

The latest: Joann Wiggan, 56, a  former SBC phone company worker,  was sentenced Monday  in Los Angeles to 3 years and 5 months in prison and fined $7,500 for helping  Pellicano, the rogue detective to the stars,  wiretap big name  actors like Sylvester Stallone, according to the Associated Press. She was convicted  of two counts of perjury and one count of making a false statement.

Authorities charged Wiggan was a facilities tech at the phone company and had access to the computer mainframes.

Pellicano was sentenced to 15 years in prison and FBI agent Mark Rossini lost his job and was sentenced to one year probation in Washington for leaking a secret FBI document to his girlfriend, actress Linda Fiorentino. She in turn, provided the document to Pellicano’s defense attorney for trial.

Ex-Denver Shuttle Driver Admits to Plot to Blow Up NY Subway

subway-photo-istockBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The former Denver airport shuttle driver who planned to bomb the New York subway is now a convicted terrorist.

Najibullah Zazi, 25, an Afghan native, admitted in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn Monday to the plot and said he was recruited by al-Qaida in Pakistan for a “martyrdom plan” against America, the Associated Press reported.

“I would sacrifice myself to bring attention to what the U.S. military was doing to civilians in Afghanistan,” Najibullah Zazi, 25, told a federal judge in a Brooklyn courtroom, according to the AP.

The wire service reported that he pleaded guilty to weapons of mass destruction, conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country and providing material support for a terrorist organization.

For Full Story

ATF Says DNA and Tipline Led to Arrest of 2 Men in Texas Church Arsons

arsonBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A tipline and DNA evidence led to the arrest of two men Sunday in connection with 10 church arsons and three attempted church break-ins in east Texas since Jan. 1, the Dallas Morning News reported.

The paper reported that Daniel George McAllister, 21, of Ben Wheeler and Jason Robert Bourque, 19, of Lindale were being held in the Smith County Jail in Tyler in lieu of $10 million bail each.

ATF, in a press release, said that the East Texas Church Arson Task Force investigators had been working on the case.

“The arsons in these communities have been devastating but the citizens have been resilient and aided each other and the investigation,” Robert Champion, special agent in charge of the ATF division in Dallas said in a statement.

“Cooperation is the cornerstone to successful investigations and here in East Texas it is no different,” he said. “ATF has been a proud partner in this case. We had over 70 agents, both local and members of two National Response Teams working on this investigation since the beginning.”

To read more click here.

Border Patrol and Mexican Federal Police Make History at Arizona Border

It’s great to see the U.S. and Mexico cooperating at this level. But it won’t be without some disappointment. Sharing intelligence with the Mexican federal police has its drawbacks. The organization is subject to serious corruption, and it’s likely some intelligence is going to be shared with the drug cartels. Not that the U.S. federal border agents on occasion  haven’t been busted for corruption. It’s just that  it’s so much more pervasive in the Mexican federal police system. But you have to give the U.S. the benefit of the doubt and figure  “it must know what it’s doing.” We shall see.

mexico-border-sign

By Sebastian Rotella
ProPublica

NOGALES, Ariz. — In a politically sensitive operation at the Arizona-Mexico border, U.S. Border Patrol agents and Mexican federal police officers are training together, sharing intelligence and coordinating patrols for the first time.

The goal of the historic partnership: a systematic joint attack on northbound flows of drugs and migrants, and southbound shipments of guns and cash. It is part of a major, unannounced crackdown started in recent months that involves hundreds of U.S. and Mexican officers in the border’s busiest smuggling corridor.

The initiative appears likely to expand.

Read more »

Body of Missing Retired FBI Agent Found in Texas: Homicide or Suicide?

texasBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The body of a missing retired FBI agent was found in Waller County, Texas late last week near her car, the Waller County News Citizen  reported.

The paper said unconfirmed reports indicated Patricia Durney had suffered a bullet wound to the head. It said authorities were trying to determine whether it was a homicide or suicide. Her body was found Thursday, one day after she was reported missing.

A comment from the sheriff’s department  made it sound as if they were leaning toward suicide.

“The investigation continues, however the initial investigation does not reveal any evidence of foul play,” the Waller County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release, according to the paper.

For Full Story

LA Times Editorial Wonders About DEA Chief Michele Leonhart’s Stance on Pot

DEA's Michele Leonhart/dea photo

DEA's Michele Leonhart/dea photo

Los Angeles Times Editorial

When President Obama nominated Michele Leonhart to head the Drug Enforcement Administration last month, those hoping for a sensible federal policy regarding medical marijuana — one that promotes scientific research into its medicinal value and eschews prosecution when it is used in accordance with local laws — shivered.

As special agent in charge of the Los Angeles Field Division, Leonhart zealously cracked down on dispensaries (though, it could be argued, that was during the Clinton and Bush years, and she was adhering to White House policy). Then, in 2008, as acting head of the DEA, she denied the application of a University of Massachusetts botanist to cultivate marijuana for research purposes (though that too was in line with the Bush administration’s anti-science stance).

So what are we to expect now if she is confirmed by the Senate? Hard to say. Since Obama’s Swearing in, it has been unclear whether the DEA — which Leonhart has been running as acting administrator since November 2007 — is willing to abide by his administration’s verbal and written policy of not pursuing medical marijuana operations that do not violate their state’s laws.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES  OF INTEREST

Column: Terrorists Should Face Civilian Courts

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
By Clarence Page
Chicago Tribune Columnist

WASHINGTON — Resistance to political influence is a virtue in a good attorney general. Tone deafness to politics is not, especially when the public fails to understand the virtue in what you’re doing.

That appears to be why, as much as he prefers a civilian trial for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the confessed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, Attorney General Eric Holder has backpedaled just enough to say that he is open to a military tribunal.

In an interview published Feb. 15 in The New York Times, he said, “You have to be flexible.” That’s true, if you can avoid tying yourself up in knots.

Holder and President Barack Obama appear to be bending to the relentless winds of opinion polls and conservative politicians. They may not have much choice. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham from South Carolina has introduced a bill in the Senate to cut off funding for criminal trials related to Sept. 11. He hopes to force cases like Mohammad’s into the military commissions that the Bush administration hastily organized at Guantanamo after the 2001 attacks.

It is easy to understand why our military is a sentimental favorite as a go-to place for handling terrorists. But those who root for the military commissions in Guantanamo should note a few things. The FBI, Justice Department and our federal courts have a better track record for effectiveness, constitutionality and appropriately tough sentencing than Team Obama’s political critics give them credit.

To read full column click here.