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Archive for February 10th, 2011

Wise-Cracking Mike Stenger of U.S. Secret Service Hanging it Up

Stenger overshadowed by a more youthful look/ticklethewire.com

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Mike Stenger, the wise-cracking, New Jersey bred, 35-year veteran of the U.S. Secret Service whose protective details included President Reagan, Jesse Jackson and Egypt President Anwar Sadat, is hanging up his badge and gun. Friday is his last day.

At a retirement party Thursday at Secret Service headquarters in downtown Washington, Stenger, the assistant director of government and public affairs, delivered a vintage Stenger speech sprinkled with jokes and wise cracks  and shout outs to the many folks he worked with over the years.

Secret Service Dir. Keith Prewitt

Secret Service Dep. Director Kevin Prewitt with Stenger

Secret Service Dir. Mark Sullivan with Stenger

A number of people spoke  including  Secret Service director Mark Sullivan, deputy director Keith Prewitt and Thomas  Harrigan, assistant administrator, chief of operations for DEA.   Agency representatives from the Justice Department, Interpol and Royal Mounted Canadian Police also gave presentations, and his family, including his wife of 38 years, was on hand.

DEA's Harrigan with Stenger

One of the more surprising moments came when a recording was played to the crowd. It was the voice of   Tony Sirico who played “Paulie Walnuts” in the Sopranos. He’s a friend of Stengers.

“I love you, you’re the best,” Sirico said. “They’re losing a good one. You’re top shelf.” Then he signed off with a “badda bing.”

Stenger is going up to Capitol Hill to become assistant Sergeant of Arms for Intelligence and Protective Services for the U.S. Senate. He held a number of posts over the years including special agent in charge of the Washington Field Office.

FBI Director Mueller Says Cyber-Crimes Making it Easier to Steal Intelligence and Cash

FBI Dir. Mueller testifies Thursday

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III emphasized Thursday that the cyberworld has dramatically changed the landscape when it comes to theft of intelligence and money.

“You have probes and capabilities of intruding into networks..that previously you had to recruit somebody inside to obtain, which makes it much easier for those who are trying to steal our secrets, to steal our secrets, ” Mueller testified before the House Select Intelligence Committee.

And he said there’s the problem of “robbing banks of millions of dollars over night by intruding and upping the limits on say, ATMs.”

He testified that sometimes it’s difficult to tell initially who is behind some cybercrimes.

“At the outset you do not know whether it may be a state actor, a group of individuals operating at the behest of a state actor or a high school kid across the street.”

Mueller appeared on the Hill along with some other notables including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, National Counterterrorism Center Director Michael Leiter and CIA Director Leon Panetta.

The juicy stuff was supposed to come later during a closed-door session.

Mueller Also Testifies that FBI Scrutinizing Iraqis Who Settled in U.S. and May Have Ties to al Qaeda (AP)

ATF Loses Friend on the Hill Who Got Caught Up in Scandal

Gawker photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — ATF has lost a good friend on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.), who forcefully and repeatedly made public statements defending ATF agent Will Clark, who was charged with  murder in the Virgin Islands, abruptly resigned Wednesday in the wake of a scandal.  A judge eventually the dismissed the charges against Clark.

The scandal with Congressman Lee surfaced Wednesday afternoon when the website Gawker reported that Lee, a married second-term Congressman, had sent flirtatious e-mails and a shirtless photo of himself to a woman he met online through Craigslist.

Gawker said he posed online as a a 39-year-old divorced lobbyist and sent a “PG picture to the woman from the ad.” The site noted that Lee is 46, married and has one son.

By the end of the day, Lee resigned and posted a statement on his website: “It has been a tremendous honor to serve the people of Western New York. I regret the harm that my actions have caused my family, my staff and my constituents. I deeply and sincerely apologize to them all. I have made profound mistakes and I promise to work as hard as I can to seek their forgiveness.

“The challenges we face in Western New York and across the country are too serious for me to allow this distraction to continue, and so I am announcing that I have resigned my seat in Congress effective immediately.”

Lee had been a staunch defender of ATF  Agent Clark, who had been charged with murder in 2008 in the shooting of a neighbor in the Virgin Islands where he had been stationed. Clark claimed it was self defense and several supporters including Lee insisted that was the case. Last October, during trial, a judge in Virgin Islands dismissed the case on a technicality.

Following the ruling last year, Lee issued a statement saying:

“As I have said from the beginning, Will is a hero, not a murderer, and I’m so grateful the Judge looked at the facts of the case and agreed.”

Odds Stacking Up Against Justice Dept. Making Case Against WikiLeaks Founder

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — If Las Vegas were to place odds on all this, it would appear increasingly that the odds would be against the Justice Department building a solid espionage case against the ever-controversial WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

The Wall Street Journal’s Evan Perez and Julian Barnes, citing officials familiar with the matter, report that U.S. investigators have been unable so far to find evidence that Assange induced an Army private to leak government documents to his website.

The paper reports that new findings “suggest Pfc. Bradley Manning, the intelligence analyst accused of handing over the data to the WikiLeaks website, initiated the theft himself, officials said. That contrasts with the initial portrait provided by Defense Department officials of a young man taken advantage of by Mr. Assange.”

To read more click here.

Cross Burnings — Symbols of Hate — Know No Boundaries

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Cross burnings which once symbolized the pervasive racism in parts of the South decades ago, is apparently not a thing of the past, and apparently knows no boundaries.

The Justice Department on Wednesday announced that Michael Francis Bealonis,19, of Robinson, Pa. pleaded guilty in federal court in Pittsburgh to burning a 6-foot cross in November 2009 in the backyard of someone in his neighborhood.

Bealonis pleaded guilty to burning the cross at the home of a family that had three minor children, one of whom was an adopted African American.

“This teen used an unmistakable symbol of bigotry and hate to threaten a family with violence simply because the race of a child,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.” These incidents have no place in our country, and they are a reminder of the civil rights challenges we still face today.”

Sentencing is set for May 25.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Ex-Fed Prosecutor Mark Hulkower Who Convicted CIA Agent Aldrich Ames Dies at age 53

Mark Hulkower/steptoe-johnson photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A former Washington area federal prosecutor who helped put away some key spies including CIA double-agent Aldrich Ames, died this past weekend of colon cancer, the Washington Post reported. He was 53.

Mark J. Hulkower, 53, worked at the U.S. Attorney’s office in Alexandria, Va.,from 1989 to 1995 and went into private practice where he defended clients from companies like Enron and Blackwater, the Post reported. He was a partner at the D.C. firm of Steptoe and Johnson at the time of his death.

During his reign as a federal prosecutor, the Post reported, that he got convictions in spy cases that included defendants Frank Nesbitt, a one-time Marine who passed secrets to the Russians; Frederick C. Hamilton, a Defense Intelligence Agency researcher who gave secrets to the Ecuador and Steven J. Lalas, a State Department staffer who spied for Greece.

“No matter how overwhelming the evidence can be, prosecuting espionage cases is never easy,” John L. Martin, the retired chief of internal security at the Justice Department told the Post. “Mark was prepared to the teeth.”

To read full story click here.

Homeland’s Janet Napolitano Says U.S. at Most “Heightened State” Since Sept. 11 Attack

Janet Napolitano/file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Certainly it’s not what we want to hear.

Janet Napolitano, head of the Department of Homeland Security told a Congressional committee Wednesday that the terrorism threat “facing our country has evolved significantly in the last ten years – and continues to evolve – so that, in some ways, the threat facing us is at its most heightened state since those attacks.”

Appearing before the House Committee on Homeland Security, she said:

“In addition to the direct threats we continue to face from al-Qaeda, we also face growing threats from other foreign-based terrorist groups that are inspired by al-Qaeda ideology but have few operational connections to the core al-Qaeda group.

“And, perhaps most crucially, we face a threat environment where violent extremism is not defined or contained by international borders. Today, we must address threats that are homegrown as well as those that originate abroad.

“One of the most striking elements of today’s threat picture is that plots to attack America increasingly involve American residents and citizens. We are now operating under the assumption, based on the latest intelligence and recent arrests, that individuals prepared to carry out terrorist attacks and acts of violence might be in the United States, and they could carry out acts of violence with little or no warning.”

To read text of full speech click read more.

Read more »