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Archive for April 5th, 2011

Ex-ATF Official La Forest Responds to Reader’s Criticism in ATF Controversy

Bernie La Forest/facebook

Editors Note: In a story ticklethewire.com published on March 31, ex-ATF official Bernie La Forest said it was a mistake for the head of ATF, Ken Melson, to remain silent and not cooperate with Congressional inquiries into gun walking programs that encouraged straw purchasers to buy guns — all with the hopes of ATF tracing those weapons to the Mexican cartels.

La Forest noted: “We saw it happen after Waco . . . our Man said nothing at the Congressional hearings—and an almost apocalyptic period of recrimination and payback took place within ATF.

“The FBI Man could not keep his mouth shut! His BS babbling resulted in more FBI agents, two or three more HRT squads, and more money than could be possibly spent.”

The story prompted a response from a ticklethewire.com reader, who was identified only as x1811. The following is x1811’s response and La Forest’s response to the 1811’s remarks.

From x1811:

Bernie states about ATF, FBI, and Waco…“The FBI Man could not keep his mouth shut! His BS babbling resulted in more FBI agents, two or three more HRT squads, and more money than could be possibly spent . . . well, in a perfect world at most law enforcement agencies.”

What “BS” this statement is. Hey Bernie…If it wasn’t for another ATF clusterf*ck Waco would never have happened. How many of your agents got killed or wounded because of ATF errors? ATF kills its own in order to maintain the credibility of an undercover case that Koresh new about. Also the ATF managers needed to have the cameras rolling. Lets see…ATF tried to entrap Randy Weaver to become a snitch, attacked Ruby Ridge, a Marshal gets killed, and the FBI has to respond. This resulted in the tragic death of Randy’s wife and kid. Now ATF creates Project Gun Walker. A Border Patrol gets killed with one of the guns ATF lets walk. How many more f ups can this country endure from a rogue agency? ATF is nothing more than a redundancy. Other federal, state, and local agencies can do anything ATF does, and better. Oh, and about losing jurisdiction; ATF claims original and exclusive explosives jurisdiction. Not so. Who do you think investigated explosive cases before the ATF was created? It was the FBI. No one stole it from ATF, it was not exclusively ATF’s in the first place. In this age of budget cuts, the best thing to do is eliminate the ATF. No one would miss them.

La Forest’s Response:

X1811, my old friend,

The observation about the “babbling FBI man” was a friendly swipe at the man himself . . . a good friend, Floyd Clarke, who went on to be the Deputy Director. I congratulated him on his tactics at the hearing when we ran into each other at an IACP conference. He was a good guy, someone who would warn fellow SACs in KC when he had to tell you a fib. That was refreshing. He and I attended a service in Phoenix a few years ago, and the guy still has his “Hollywood Hair!”

As for your comment about Waco, I agree that it was not worth the loss of our agents. I always wondered what would have happened if two agents in business suits had simply knocked on the door. Maybe it would have worked, maybe not. I do recall that after they removed an ATF agent from his comfortable role in talking to Koresh . . . not another child ever left that compound.

Looking at Ruby Ridge, ATF did indeed work the crooks . . . but it did not execute the arrest warrant that the Marshals finally moved on. It was a tragic loss for the U.S. Marshall Service. Almost as intense, was the witch-hunt directed at the FBI HRT sniper and his partners, following the final shootout at the cabin. My old friend, (X1811), let me point out again that ATF was not there on that final day, just like it wasn’t a participant when Koresh set fire to his compound.

As for redundancy at the federal level and the FBI working bombings in the “old days . . . I think not. The FBI may have occasionally worked a high-profile explosives case before . . . probably using State laws, transportation violations, espionage statutes, or others that they manipulated to make the case. For the most part it was not a priority . . . unless something about the incident piqued the Bureau’s interest. In 1970, the Organized Crime Control Act was passed. It contained the Explosives Control Act.

With the additional responsibility of enforcing these new laws, ATF redefined its mission as it has done ever since, e.g., the Anti- Arson Act in 1982. Excepting the latter law, ATF did not ask for additional jurisdiction. ATF has graciously accepted every tool that could arm its agents with effective tools that have helped “all” law enforcement agencies—at every level. On the phrase “of others doing what ATF can do.” That is a ridiculous pronouncement, sounding more like a malcontent’s whining.

As I recall, X1811, you never were one of the effective investigators. However, you did serve as a role model . . . for how NOT to act as a criminal investigator. Still bitter I see . . . your spiral seems to continue, old friend.

Bernard La Forest

PS: No codes here, I like to sign my stuff

Memo Suggests ABC News Journalist Gave Up Source to FBI During OKlahoma Bombing Story; Gawker Website Identifies Journalist as Current CBS New Wash. Bureau Chief

Tim McVeigh

By John Solomon and Aaron Mehta
Center for Public Integrity

WASHINGTON — A once-classified FBI memo reveals that the bureau treated a senior ABC News journalist as a potential confidential informant in the 1990s, pumping the reporter to ascertain the source of a sensational but uncorroborated tip that the network had obtained during its early coverage of the Oklahoma City bombing.

The journalist, whose name is not disclosed in the document labeled “secret,” not only cooperated but provided the identity of a confidential source, according to the FBI memo — a possible breach of journalistic ethics if he or she did not have the source’s permission.

The ABC employee was even assigned a number in the FBI’s informant database, indicating he or she was still being vetted for suitability as a snitch after providing “highly accurate and reliable information in the past” and then revealing information the network had obtained in the hours just after the 1995 terrorist attack by Timothy McVeigh.

To read more click here.

UPDATE (Tues; 5:15 p.m.): John Cook of the website Gawker reports that the ABC journalist was Christopher Isham, now a vice president at CBS News and the network’s Washington bureau chief.

Cook writes: “Isham’s tip was of course not true, and ABC News never reported it. But the FBI found him useful enough to open an informant file on him, and circled back a year later to ask who his or her source was. Astonishingly, Isham gave him up:

“Nearly a year later, the network staffer was contacted by the FBI and agreed to divulge ABC’s source for the uncorroborated claim: a former CIA officer named Vincent Cannistraro, who was on contract to the network as a consultant, who, in turn, had gotten the information from a Saudi general.”

To read Cook’s full story click here.

FBI Names Michelle Ann Jupina Assist. Dir. of Records Management Division

Michelle Ann Jupina/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Michelle Ann Jupina, the deputy assistant director for operations support in the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, has been named assistant director of the agency’s Records Management Division at headquarters.

Prior to her stint at headquarters, Jupina served for two years as special agent in charge of the Washington Field Office’s Intelligence Division.

“Michelle has served in numerous leadership roles during her 20 years with the FBI. As a manager, she has strengthened the FBI’s intelligence programs, and I am confident she will effectively lead the Records Management Division,” FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said in a statement.

Jupina joined the FBI  in 1996 as a special agent and was first assigned to the Washington Field Office, where she investigated cyber, white-collar crime, criminal, and counterintelligence matters, the agency said.  She later became a supervisory special agent in the National Infrastructure Protection Center and then in the FBI’s Cyber Division.

Over the years, she has held positions as special assistant to the executive assistant director (EAD) of the National Security Branch (NSB), the EAD of intelligence, and the deputy EAD of administration.  The FBI said she played an integral role in strengthening the FBI’s intelligence program.

Jupina also served as section chief of the NSB executive staff.  Prior to joining the FBI, she worked for the Department of Defense.

Six Decades Later, FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted List Still Hard to Crack

Osama bin Laden

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

WASHINGTON — In the film “Take the Money and Run,” Woody Allen played a bumbling, publicity-starved petty criminal named Virgil Starkwell. “You know he never made the Ten Most Wanted list,” Starkwell’s wife, Louise, lamented in the 1969 comedy. “It’s very unfair voting. It’s who you know.”

As Allen’s fictitious character learned, getting on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list is no easy feat. Just being a vicious criminal or a menace to society isn’t always enough.

For one, there has to be an opening. And then there’s the selection process: A committee at FBI headquarters reviews dozens of candidates from FBI field offices — there are 56 in all — before the top brass weighs in with a final decision.

“I’d be lying to say there’s no politics involved” in getting someone on the list, Tony Riggio, a former FBI agent and official, told AOL News.

In 1978, Riggio had the first organized crime figure — Cleveland mobster Anthony “Tony Lib” Liberatore — placed on the Most Wanted list. Riggio said sometimes an extra call to headquarters from a top official in the field helped get someone on the list, adding, “Being a top 10 case agent is really a feather in your cap. I got a lot of respect.”

James Earl Ray/fbi photo

Over the years, the Ten Most Wanted alum have included some of the nation’s most notorious criminals, including escaped Martin Luther King Jr. assassin James Earl Ray, serial killer Ted Bundy and current member, Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger, who is wanted in connection with 19 murders. Most stay on until they are captured, a case no longer seems solid or authorities figure the person has died. Osama bin Laden was on the list up until his execution on May 1.

According to the FBI website, the list came about after a reporter for the International News in 1949 told the FBI he was interested in writing a story about the “toughest guys” the FBI was after. The FBI provided the names and descriptions of 10 fugitives — four escaped prisoners, three con men, two murder suspects and a bank robber — and the reporter wrote a story that captured national attention and triggered hundreds of tips.

Earlier this month, the bigger-than-life list, which had long become part of the American vernacular, turned 61. For decades a fixture in post offices and banks, the Ten Most Wanted photos are now more likely to pop up on TV shows, billboards and the Internet through websites and trendy social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

“We recognize the unique ability of the media to cast a wider net within communities here and abroad,” FBI Director Robert Mueller said in a statement marking the 60th anniversary. “The FBI can send agents to visit a thousand homes to find a witness, but the media can visit a million homes in an instant.”

Brad Bryant, chief of the Violent Crimes/Major Offenders Unit at FBI headquarters, says getting on the list is “very competitive.” Field offices are notified at once when an opening occurs.

“The criteria we’re looking for are, first of all, they must be particularly dangerous or be a menace to society or have a lengthy criminal history,” Bryant said.

Often, dozens of recommendations come in to headquarters, Bryant said. Field offices submit packets with information about the case, including a case file, photos and reasons why the person is worthy of joining the list. Some submissions include endorsements from local police chiefs.

The Violent Crimes/Major Offenders Unit also solicits input from the media representatives at headquarters, said Rex Tomb, who was chief of the FBI’s fugitive publicity unit in Washington until he retired from the bureau in 2006.

Boston Mobster Whitey Bulger

“Public affairs personnel like myself were generally asked by the Criminal Division to comment only on whether or not we believed there would be media interest in a fugitive,” Tomb said. “If for some reason there is little or no public interest in a particular case, reporters would generally pass on writing about it. … If there would be little print given to a Top Ten fugitive then there is really little or no reason to put him or her on the list.”

The candidates for the list are reviewed by a committee of agents from the Violent Crimes/Major Offenders unit, who carefully look over the submissions and case files.

“We rank the top four or five in the packet, and we prepare a briefing packet for the assistant director of the criminal division and his boss and the deputy director and the director,” Bryant said. Mueller must then sign off on it.

The tenor of the times has been reflected in the list over the years. In the 1950s, it hosted bank robbers. In the 1960s, some radicals made the cut, and later, organized crime figures and drug traffickers and eventually terrorists, violent gang members and sexual predators were added.

The shortest time anyone spent on the list was two hours. The longest-tenured was Donald Eugene Webb, wanted in the slaying of a police chief in Saxonburg, Pa., in 1980. He stayed on for 25 years, 10 months and 27 days before being removed in 2007. The FBI provided little reason why, only to say he no longer fit the criteria.

The oldest person ever to make the list is mobster Bulger, who got on in 1999 at age 69 and has stayed there ever since.

The list is regarded as a highly successful tool for the FBI. Of the 494 who have appeared on the list, 463 have been captured or located, with 152 of those from a direct result of citizen cooperation, the FBI said.

There are countless stories of citizens’ tips from the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list resulting in arrests. Two fugitives were even apprehended as a result of visitors on an FBI tour who saw the photos.

Ted Bundy

Retired FBI agent Brad Garrett said that in the end, a $2 million-plus cash award — not the Ten Most Wanted listing — helped bring in information that led to the capture of fugitive Mir Aimal Kasi at a seedy hotel in Pakistan. Kasi opened fire outside CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., in 1993, killing two CIA employees and wounding three others. A few months after the shooting, he landed on the list.

“It’s an incredibly successful and novel idea, and it has captured hundreds of fugitives,” Garrett said of the famous list. “But I think it’s a lot more effective in the U.S. than outside” in places like Pakistan.

“I think the idea of a top 10 didn’t carry a lot of weight” in this case, Garrett said. “The dollar signs after his name carried a lot of weight.”

NY Times Editorial: Cowardice Blocks 9/11 Trial in the Big Apple

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

By The New York Times
Editorial Page

Last year, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. described a federal court trial for the self-professed mastermind of Sept. 11 attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, as ”the defining event of my time as attorney general.” On Monday, Mr. Holder’s dream for demonstrating the power of the American court system crumbled when he announced that the trial would take place not in New York City or anywhere in the United States but before a military commission at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prison camp.

That retreat was a victory for Congressional pandering and an embarrassment for the Obama administration, which failed to stand up to it.

The wound inflicted on New York City from Mr. Mohammed’s plot nearly a decade ago will not heal for many lifetimes, yet the city, while still grieving, has thrived. How fitting it would have been to put the plot’s architect on trial a few blocks from the site of the World Trade Center, to force him to submit to the justice of a dozen chosen New Yorkers, to demonstrate to the world that we will not allow fear of terrorism to alter our rule of law.

But, apparently, there are many who continue to cower, who view terrorists as much more fearsome than homegrown American mass murderers and the American civilian jury system as too ”soft” to impose needed justice.

To read more click here.

Ex-FBI Agent Who Worked Espionage Authors Spy Novel

Tom Stutler

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ex-FBI agent Thomas R. Stutler, a newly minted author, says he likes fiction readers to get a sense authors know what they’re  talking about.

“My goal when writing fiction is always to make sure the reader can tell the book was written by somebody who was in the game… Every sentence, every paragraph and every chapter should feel real and alive and most importantly… Possible!,” he writes on his website.

Stutler, a former Florida state’s attorney turned FBI agent, who worked espionage and counterterrorism in California and at FBI headquarter from 1995 to 2004, has authored  “The Consulate”, a spy novel about a CIA-trained FBI agent and the Chinese government’s efforts to compromise a classified project by the White House that impacts all the American people. The book is edited by author Bob Andelman, whose name appears as a co-author.

Stutler told ticklethewire.com that he self-published the book and got a distributor to arrange for downloads at Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes and Noble and iTunes. Though the book was first available in February, he said he just started marketing it the other day because of some glitches with the download.

A second book — part of the series — has just been completed, he said. But that’s not all. Someone has offered a letter of intent for the movie rights, he said.

“I love writing,” said Stutler, who has been a consultant for the Kevin J. Anderson, the best selling author of the X-Files.

Stutler lives in Tampa and has a consulting and private investigative agency.

FBI Interviewing Libyans in U.S. as War Rages On


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Signs of concern about a backlash from the U.S. actions in Libya are surfacing.

Devlin Barrett of the Wall Street Journal reports that the FBI has started questioning Libyans in the U.S. to look “Libyan-backed spies or terrorists, and collect any information that might help allied military operations.”

The Journal reports that counterterrorism officials believe the Libyan-related threat is slightly greater in Europe than in the U.S.

To read more click here.

Journalists Accuse FBI Employee of Being out of Control and Striking Them With Her Car at National Press Club


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — An FBI employee at headquarters is being accused by two Voice of America journalists in Washington of road rage that included intentionally striking them with her car and carrying one a short distance on her hood, the Washington Examiner reports.

The paper reports that a lawsuit filed Monday by Thomas Bagnall and William Greenback is asking for $1 million each.

The lawsuit stated that the two were unloading a television camera and other equipment from their sport utility vehicle in front of the National Press Club on 14th Street NW in downtown Washington on March 23 when Joy Ellen Mullinax, who works as a support staffer in Human Resources,  at the bureau,  pulled up behind them in her 2003  Hyundai Accent, according to the Examiner. Greenback was inside the car while Bagnall unloaded equipment, the paper reported.

After pulling up, Mullinax blew her horn and yelled and Bagnall told her to go around, the suit said, according to the Examiner.

“Mullinax accelerated and struck Bagnall, who spun around and screamed in pain,” the paper reported. ” Greenback got out of the SUV and yelled at Mullinax to stop because she had struck his colleague.”

“Mullinax gunned her engine, each time moving closer to Greenback, eventually pinning Greenback between her car and another car which had stopped in traffic. She then hit the gas again, striking Greenback and throwing him onto the hood of the car,” the paper reported. ” Mullinax’s vehicle then bumped into a 2006 Chevy Trail Blazer driven by Jeneer Beer, who was already on the phone calling 911, according to the lawsuit.”

Millinax was given a ticket for changing lanes without cautions.

Ticklethewire.com left her a voicemail Tuesday morning asking for comment.

Bill Carter, an FBI spokesman, said it is the “policy of the FBI not to comment on matters involving litigation between individuals.”

He said the agency takes allegations of misconduct involving any FBI employee “very seriously” and will take whatever steps are appropriate to address the matter.