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Archive for April 14th, 2011

Gun Dealer Was Concerned About ATF’s Gun-Walking Program


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — A controversial ATF gun-walking program apparently concerned an Arizona gun dealer, who like many others, had been encouraged by ATF to keep selling weapons to straw purchasers, all with the hopes agents would trace them to the higher levels of the Mexican drug cartels.

Problem was some of those guns sold by gun dealers got into the hands of criminals and may have been used in the fatal shooting of at least one federal agent.

Sen. Charles Grassley, who has been on the war path, attacking ATF for its programs — Project Gunrunner and its offshoot Operation Fast and Furious — released emails on Thursday from a concerned Arizona gun dealer. The emails were forwarded along with a letter to Atty. Eric Holder Jr. in which Grassley pointedly complained that the Justice Department had not released to him documents on the programs.

In one email, Grassley notes that the gun dealer — whose name was blacked out — raised concerns to ATF supervisor David Voth:

“I shared my concerns with you guys that I wanted to make sure that none of the firearms that were sold per our conversation with you and various ATF agents could or would ever end up south of the border and in the hands of the bad guys…I want to help ATF with its investigation, but not at the risk of agents’ safety because I have some very close friends that are U.S. border patrol agents in southern Arizona.”

Agent Voth replied on April 13, 2010:
“I understand that the frequency with which some individuals under investigation by our office have been purchasing firearms from your business has caused concerns for you. I totally understand and am not in a position to tell you how to run your business.

“However, if it helps put you at ease we (ATF) are continually monitoring these suspects using a variety of investigative techniques which I cannot go into detail. … Just know that we cannot instruct you on how to run your business, but your continued cooperation with our office has greatly aided the investigation thus far.”

Grassley said the gun dealers were put in a bad spot.

“On the one hand, these gun dealers rely upon the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for their license to even be able to be in business,” he said in a statement.

“So, of course, these agents (Federal Firearms Licensees) want to cooperate with the government. When you have got this big club hanging over your head, will you be licensed or not licensed. On the other hand, the government asks these gun dealers to keep selling to the bad guys even after the dealers warned that it might end in tragedy.”

Grassley has indicated that some of the guns sold to straw purchases may have been used in the fatal shooting of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in Arizona last December. He is also trying to determine if any of the guns were used in the February fatal shooting in Mexico of ICE agent Jaime Zapata and the wounding of another agent.

Read Grassley letter and emails

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Blago Noise Machine Revs Up: He Wants All FBI Tapes Played in Court

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By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Blago noise machine is revving up again as the ex-Illinois governor prepares for his retrial next week in federal court in downtown Chicago.

On Wednesday, Rod Blagojevich griped before a group of reporters in front of his Ravenswood Manor home in Chicago that the prosecution is refusing to play all the FBI tapes in trial, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. He thinks the tapes in their entirety will prove his innocence.

“It’s not the job of prosecutors to win at all costs,” Blagojevich said, according to the Sun-Times. “It’s not the job of prosecutors to railroad an innocent man.”

“I’m renewing my call – every taped conversation, every FBI interview, every scrap of evidence should be released to the public,” said Blagojevich. “They elected me twice as their governor. They have the right to know what the truth is.”

His first trial ended with him being convicted on only 1 of 24 counts. The jury deadlocked on the remaining charges.

FBI Kept Files on the Beatles, Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix and Col. Sanders

subversive chicken?

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Al Qaeda they were not.

But declassified FBI files show agents kept tabs on the Beatles, Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix and Col Sanders of KFC fame, according to the London publication, The Sun.

The paper reports that the FBI files indicate the agency’s concern that the Beatles in the 1960s might undermine America. John Lennon was described as a “radically orientated” druggie, and pages talk in detail about him posing nude with wife Yoko Ono, the Sun reported.

The documents show the agency got involved in helping local police investigate child molestation allegations against pop star Michael Jackson.

Documents detailed Jim Hendrix’s marijuana conviction and noted that he was a contributor to a hippy magazine called The Chicago Kaleidoscope, the Sun reported.

And yes, a file was opened on the king of chicken himself,Colonel Sanders after he asked director J. Edgar Hoover for his autograph.

Could the FBI have been concerned that the colonel might try to sell his secret “finger lickin’ good” recipe to the Russians?

FBI’s Long Arm Nabs Pirate Negotiator in Somalia


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The long arm of the FBI reached into Somalia and plucked out a man suspected of being the chief negotiator for a group of pirates who hijacked an American yacht in February and ultimately killed all four people aboard, authorities announced Wednesday.

Mohammad Saaili Shibin, who worked ashore as the pirates held the people hostage, was arrested  in a joint effort with the FBI and Somali government.  He was indicted in Norfolk, Va.

“The arrest of Mohammad Shibin is a significant breakthrough in the United States’ battle against Somali pirates,” said U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride said Wednesday. “Today marks the first time that the U.S. government has captured and charged an alleged pirate in a leadership role—a hostage negotiator who operated in Somalia.”

“As 14 heavily armed men holed-up aboard the Quest, Mohammad Shibin allegedly worked behind the scenes determining exactly how much cash could be extorted for the Americans’ safe release,” said New York’s FBI Assistant Director in Charge Janice K. Fedarcyk.

Fourteen others who hijacked the SV/Quest yacht have been indicted in the matter and are awaiting trial, which is set for Nov. 29.

The indictment alleges that during the negotiations, Shibin was on land conducting research on the Internet to learn about the hostages on the yacht and figure out the appropriate ransom demand, authorities said.

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