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Archive for May 10th, 2011

Column: Could Hair Determine the Next FBI Director?

Robert Mueller

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Could the new director of the FBI win out by a hair — or many hairs?

I know this may sound silly, but I have a theory about hair and certain jobs.  And I think this theory could be applicable to the hunt for a replacement for FBI Director Robert Mueller III, who steps down in September. My theory is: A good head of hair could win out after all other considerations are taken into account.  (Of course my theory only applies to  men since no woman whose name has popped up is lacking in hair.)

Let me explain further. When I was at the Washington Post, I occasionally kidded a friend in management,  who was in his 40s at the time, who sported a  full, youthful head of hair — a Dennis the Menace coif if you will.

J. Edgar Hoover

I would say to him:  “You’ve got  the right head of hair, you’re going places here.”  After all, I said,  the top two spots at the paper — at least when I was there — were always occupied by people with full heads of youthful hair. No bald folks, no real folks with serious receding hairlines. Us folks with thinning hair notice these things.

Louis Freeh

Clarence Kelley

I thought  about this the other day when I heard the latest rumor that  Michael Chertoff, the former head of the Justice Department Criminal Division and the ex-head of Homeland Security, might be a contender for the FBI director job.

I  thought a moment, then jokingly said to myself, “Nah, not enough hair.”

Silly? Yes. Still, history speaks volumes.

Look at Mueller. At 66, he still maintains  a world-class, full head of hair. Ex-director Louie Freeh, while he was not quite as follically blessed,  had plenty hair,  as did  William Sessions and Clarence Kelley.  Patrick Gray, who served as acting director from May 1972 to April of the following year, didn’t have much hair at all, but then again, he was only acting director. And the grandaddy of them all, J. Edgar Hoover had a first-rate, fine  head of hair when he started out on the job.

Michael Chertoff

Ken Wainstein

James Comey

So who does that leave us with if we apply  the hair theory, assuming the new director is a man?

Here’s some of the hair-blessed candidates:  Former Justice lawyers Ken Wainstein and James Comey;  Sec. of Homeland Security John Pistole and  Virginia U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride.

Chicago U.S. Attorney has more hair than not, but has a receding hairline. He’s somewhere in between.

Then there’s the more follically challenged candidates:  Former FBI agent Mike Mason, N.Y. City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Michael Leiter, chief of National Counterterrorism Center.

I could be 100 percent wrong.

And this all may seem even sillier when a nominee is finally picked. But in the mean time, we can only guess if hair will rule in this matter.

Patrick Fitzgerald/doj photo

Mike Mason/fbi photo

NYPD Commissioner Kelly/nypd photo

U.S. Atty. Neil MacBride

John Pistole/dhs photo

Michael Leiter

FBI Agents Association Lauds Proposed Legislation to Use Wiretaps for Probes involving Government Fraud

Konrad Motyka/ticklethewire.com photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — FBI Agents Association President Konrad Motyka on Tuesday lauded proposed legislation that would allow investigators to use court-authorized wiretaps for fraud cases involving government programs like the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.)  introduced language last Friday in bill H.R. 1793, the Clean-Up Government Act of 2011, that will allow wiretaps in such fraud cases.

Current law does not include government fraud on the list of  serious crimes in which investigators can obtain wiretaps.  While it is not  impossible, it is much more challenging to obtain a wiretap for government fraud cases, a spokesman for the association explained.

The new legislation will make it much easier.

Rep. Sensenbrenner

“The FBI Agents Association (FBIAA) supports Chairman Sensenbrenner’s inclusion of language in H.R. 1793 that would add the crime of theft from government programs to the list of serious crimes that Congress previously recognized could be investigated using court-authorized wiretaps,” Motyka said in a statement.

“Current law makes it difficult to use wiretaps in the investigation of crimes involving government programs,” he added. ” It is an unfortunate reality that in these difficult economic times criminals are taking advantage of programs intended to help hardworking Americans.

“In order to effectively fight fraud related to large government programs such as the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and programs using stimulus funds, Congress should include crimes against taxpayers in the statutory list so that courts will have specific authority to grant wiretaps.”

Sophisticated Drug Tunnel Found at Mexico-Az Border

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Drug tunnels continue to pop up along the U.S.-Mexican border.

The latest: The Associated Press reports that authorities discovered in Nogales, Az., a fairly sophisticated 250-foot-long unfinished tunnel underneath the U.S.-Mexico border that had electricity, water pumps and ventilation.

AP reported that Chief Border Patrol Agent Randy Hill says the tunnel was more sophisticated than others recently unearthed and that the builders had to chisel through solid rock.

AP reported that the tunnel was 15 feet beneath the ground. It started in an abandoned building in Nogales on the Mexican side and was still undergoing construction on the American side.

Yankee Boss Steinbrenner Cooperated With FBI to Get a Presidential Pardon

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The sometimes cantankerous and bigger than life N.Y. Yankee owner George Steinbrenner cooperated with the FBI on national security cases and other matters in the 1970s and 1980s, which helped him land a pardon from President Reagan in 1989, the New York Times reported.

His pardon was for a conviction for illegal contributions to President Nixon’s presidential election campaign. He was initially denied a pardon in 1979, the Times reported.

The Times reported that “it is not surprising that Steinbrenner helped the F.B.I., to help his case for a pardon but perhaps also to demonstrate his avowed patriotism. But clearly, he wanted a pardon.” He was fined $15,000 for his conviction, but served no time.

Steinbrenner died in July 2010.

The Times reported that in his “first pardon application in 1979, Steinbrenner wrote that his conviction prevented him from voting, affected his business, led to his suspension from baseball, and limited his participation in civic and charitable activities where his ‘status as a felon’ could embarrass those groups.”

Besides helping with national security matters, he once showed his willingness to let authorities use Yankee Stadium as a roundup point for arrests in a crackdown on organized crime gambling, the Times reported. But cold weather prompted a change in venue.

To read more click here.

Fla. Man Pleads Guilty to Impersonating an FBI Agent

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It’s never a good idea. Daniel F. Cleary, 48, of Weston, Fla. knows that now.

Clearly pleaded guilty last Friday in federal court in Southern Florida to impersonating an FBI agent, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Authorities said it all began on Jan. 13 of this year when Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a call regarding property damage at a home in Weston, Fla.

When the deputies arrived at Cleary’s residence, Cleary identified himself as a Special Agent with the FBI and displayed counterfeit FBI credentials bearing his name and photograph.

He also had a Glock Model 17 9mm semi-automatic pistol. He faces up to three years in prison.

Washington Post Editorial Edorses 2 Ex-Justice Dept. Lawyers — Ken Wainstein and James Comey– to be Next FBI Director

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — A Washington Post editorial on Tuesday praised FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III and endorsed two people who have been mentioned as possible replacements when Mueller’s 10-year term expires in September.

Kenneth Wainstein

The Post said the White House should seriously consider as replacements former deputy Attorney General James B. Comey, who worked under President George W. Bush, and Kenneth Wainstein, a former D.C. U.S. Attorney, who also worked as first chief of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

The editorial mentions that Comey and Mueller were among those who protested the the Bush administration’s policies regarding its terrorist surveillance program.

The Post wrote: “Mr. Mueller was joined in that protest by then-Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey, who is said to be under consideration for the director’s slot. It was Mr. Comey, who spent years as a federal prosecutor in New York and Virginia, who first rebuffed White House attempts to skirt the surveillance issues. This kind of backbone in the face of enormous political pressure speaks well of Mr. Comey’s prospects for keeping the bureau above the political fray should he get the nod.”

As for Wainstein, the editorial stated:

“The administration is also wise to consider Kenneth L. Wainstein, who is perhaps the candidate most closely associated with Mr. Mueller. Mr. Wainstein, a respected veteran federal prosecutor, has the most wide-ranging national security experience — an important characteristic for any director. Mr. Wainstein worked at the FBI under Mr. Mueller, first as general counsel and later as the director’s chief of staff. He became U.S. attorney in the District and fully burnished his national security credentials as the first chief of the Justice Department’s National Security Division and as President George W. Bush’s homeland security adviser.”

Read editorial

Number 2 at Justice Dept. James Cole Remains in Limbo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Deputy Attorney Gen. James Cole never played in the National Football League — but he certainly knows what it’s like to be a football — a political one at that.

David A. Fahrenthold of the Washington Post reports that the Republicans in the Senate on Monday voted to block a bid by Democrats to force a final vote on Cole’s confirmation, leaving his status as the number 2 person in the Justice Department in limbo.

President Obama gave Cole a recess appointment, which expires at the end of the year.

The Post reported that the Dems on Monday fell short of the 60 votes needed to knock down a Republican filibuster vote on the matter.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said, according to a statement posted on his website: ” It is hard to believe that one week after the successful operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the world’s number one terrorist, we cannot take this step to ensure that President Obama has his full national security team in place. Now that a measure of justice has been secured for the victims of September 11, I have expressed hope that we can come together as we did in the weeks and months following September 11.”

James Cole/law firm

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ia) who strongly opposed the nomination, said:

“In particular, I’m seriously concerned about Mr. Cole’s views on national security and terrorism. Back in 2002, Mr. Cole was the author of an opinion piece in the Legal Times. In that piece, he stated, ‘For all the rhetoric about war, the Sept. 11 attacks were criminal acts of terrorism against a civilian population, much like the terrorist acts of Timothy McVeigh in blowing up the federal building in Oklahoma City, or of Omar Abdel-Rahman in the first effort to blow up the World Trade Center. The criminals responsible for these horrible acts were successfully tried and convicted under our criminal justice system, without the need for special procedures that altered traditional due process rights.’”