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Archive for April 15th, 2010

Imam Who Lied to FBI in NY Subway Bombing Plot Dodges Prison But Gets the Deportation Boot

subway-photo-istockBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A Queens imam who admitted lying to FBI agents in the case of the aborted bombing plot of the New York City subway got a break: he won’t be heading off to prison.

A Brooklyn federal judge gave Afghan-born Imam Ahmad Afzali time served, which was four days, the Associated Press reported. But Afzali was ordered to leave the country within 90 days. He admitted tipping off  Najibullah Zazi, a key person in the plot, that the FBI was looking for him.

The FBI broke up the plot before it could be executed.

”I take full responsibility for my actions,” the 38-year-old Afzali said in a tearful statement, the AP reported. “‘It was never my intention to help those idiots for what they did in the name of Islam.”

He said he’s not sure what country he’ll go to, the AP reported. ”I’m going to start shopping around,” he said.

Najibullah Zazi, a Colorado airport van driver, who was plotting to blow up the New York subway,  pleaded guilty and is cooperating with authorities. Two other suspects have pleaded not guilty.

Ex-National Security Agency Official Indicted on Charges of Leaking Info to Baltimore Sun Reporter

nsa_seal
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — An ex-high ranking National Security Agency official has been charged with allegedly leaking classified information to a national newspaper in 2006 and 2007, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

Authorities indicted  Thomas A. Drake, 52, who headed an office in the NSA’s signals intelligence and engineering directorates at Fort Meade between 2001 and 2005,  on charges that he served as a source for a number of articles — some which contained classified information .

The indictment does not name the reporter, but The Washington Post reported that it was Siobhan Gorman, a prize-winning intelligence correspondent for the Baltimore Sun at the time She now works for the Wall Street Journal. The articles were critical of the NSA.

According to the Justice Department press release,  Drake took a number of steps to accommodate the reporter including:

Read more »

Scientist Steven Hatfill Wrongfully Accused in Anthrax Murders Breaking Silence

Steven Hatfill/fox news

Steven Hatfill/fox news

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Steven Hatfill, the scientist wrongfully accused of being the anthrax killer, is apparently working to repair his damaged image and has decided to break his silence.

The Atlantic magazine has put a teaser on its website indicating that it plans to publish a story on Friday in which Hatfill, 56, speaks out.

“In the fall of 2001, a nation reeling from the horror of 9/11 was rocked by a series of deadly anthrax attacks,” the website teaser says. “As the pressure to find a culprit mounted, the FBI, abetted by the media, found one. The wrong one. This is the story of how federal authorities blew the biggest anti-terror investigation of the past decade—and nearly destroyed an innocent man. Here, for the first time, the falsely accused, Dr. Steven J. Hatfill, speaks out about his ordeal.”

An interview with  Hatfill is also expected to air on NBC’s Today show.

Read more »

FBI Dir. Mueller Assures Senators Overhaul of Computer System No Boondoggle

Robert Mueller and Eric Holder in 2009/fbi photo

Robert Mueller and Eric Holder in 2009/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The massive overhaul of the FBI’s computerized case management system may not be as big a mess as it seems — at least that’s what Director Robert S. Mueller III told the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Thursday.

The website Main Justice reported that Mueller said the delays on the $305 million project known as the Sentinel were routine and assured Senators that it would not become a boondoggle.

Main Justice reported that Mueller’s decision to suspend work on parts of the program resulted from the discovery of some “coding defects.”

“Is this just a normal delay … or are we on the way to boondoggle?” asked Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), chairwoman of the Commerce, Justice and science Appropriations Subcommittee, Main Justice reported.

Mueller said it was a minor setback.

To read more click here.

Read Full Statement before the committee

Texas FBI Agent Convicted of Illegal Gun Sales and Lying to ATF

el paso map istockBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A federal jury in El Paso deliberated for less than three hours Wednesday before convicting FBI agent John Thomas Shipley of dealing weapons without a permit and lying to ATF agents about the sales, the El Paso Times reported.

ATF agents arrested Shipley, 40, last year after tracing back to him a .50 caliber rifle that was used in a drug cartel shootout in Chihuahua, Mexico, the El Paso Times reported.

Sentencing is set for July 8.

Authorities charged that he sold 51 weapons between 2005 and 2008 for more than $118,000.

The El Paso Times reported that Shipley allegedly kept two sets of records, one accurate one and another that was given to ATF that lacked pertinent information. He has been suspended from the FBI without pay.

To read more click here.

Ex-FBI Contract Linguist Loses NY Law License

legal
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A contract linguist with the FBI in Maryland who pleaded guilty in December to disclosing classified information to a blogger,  has had his law license suspended in New York, according to the New York Law Journal.

The Law Journal reported that the Appellate Division, 3rd Department declined to set aside the suspension recommended by a disciplinary committee for Shamai Kedem Leibowitz, an Israeli-American lawyer, who had been translating intercepted phone calls for the FBI from Hebrew to English.

Leibowitz claimed his crime was “not motivated by venality, but rather by misguided patriotism.” The 39-year-old said he does contract work for N.Y. law firms to support his wife and 6-year-old twins, the Journal reported.

He pleaded guilty in December to leaking five classified documents to a blogger. His guilty plea calls for him to get 20 months in prison at the time of sentencing.

Following his guilty plea in December, Richard McFeely, head of the Baltimore FBI said in a statement: “As a trusted member of the FBI ranks, Leibowitz abused the trust of the FBI and the American public by using his access to classified information for his own purposes.”

To read more click here.

Senior Administration Officials Privately Dismayed Over Atty. Gen. Holder’s Job Performance, Washington Post Reports

Atty. Gen. Holder

Atty. Gen. Holder

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The Washington Post is reporting that senior administration officials aren’t all that happy with Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr and have privately expressed dismay about his job performance.

The Post reports that administration officials have complained about Holder’s “tin ear in his decision-making and his public remarks.”

The paper went on to report that some people have predicted Holder might not last much longer in the job.

“But Holder has shown no signs of getting ready to leave, and he remains a close friend of President Obama’s, advisers said,” the Post reported. “If anything, his careful statements Wednesday seemed to suggest that he is adapting to the White House’s desire that he make less news.”

The information was included in a report on Holder’s appearance Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee where he was able to side-step some of the Republican committee members hostile questions.

He fielded questions about the delay in shutting Guantanamo Bay and said he expected Osama bin Laden would never be taken alive, the Post reported.

“If anything, his careful statements Wednesday seemed to suggest that he is adapting to the White House’s desire that he make less news,” the Post reported.

To read full story click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Pres. Obama Cuts Loose: Nominates 7 U.S. Attorneys

Pamela C. Marsh/law firm photo

Pamela C. Marsh/law firm photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

President Obama announced a slew of nominations Wednesday for U.S. Attorney spots around the country.

The U.S. Attorney nominations include:

  • Donald J. Cazayoux Jr. for the Middle District of Louisiana.
  • Pamela Cothran Marsh for the Northern District of Florida;
  • Zane David Memeger for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
  • Peter J. Smith for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
  • Edward L. Stanton, III, for the Western District of Tennessee.
  • John F. Walsh for  the District of Colorado.
  • Stephen R. Wigginton for the Southern District of Illinois.