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Archive for May 26th, 2011

Senators Introduce Legislation to Extend FBI Dir. Mueller’s Term; Sen. Grassley Has Mixed Feelings

Robert Mueller III last year in Denver at IACP / file fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

In an unusual sign of bipartisanship, the top Democrats and Republicans of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate Select Committee on Intelligence introduced legislation Thursday that would allow  FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III to extend his 10-year term by two years.

Top ranking senators said the bill would provide a “one time extension” and would apparently keep the 10-year term limit in place for future directors. Mueller began serving as director in 2001 and was set to step down this September. One co-sponsor of the bill, Sen. Chuck Grassely (R-Ia.),  said he had some mixed feelings given that existing legislation that limits the term to 10-years was put in place for a reason.

President Obama caught many off guard when he announced that he wanted Mueller to stay on past September. Next to J. Edgar  Hoover, Mueller is the longest serving director.

The president said he wanted it to keep some continuity. Some applauded the move. But some agents inside the bureau felt it was time for Mueller to move on.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), one of  the Senators who co-sponsored the bill to extend Mueller’s term, said in a statement :

“Bob Mueller has served tirelessly and selflessly for 10 years, and is undoubtedly ready to begin the next phase of his life.”

“But he has characteristically answered duty’s call and indicated his willingness to continue his service. We should fulfill our duty, as well, and join together without delay to secure the continuity and stability that is demanded at this time, and that is needed to keep our country safe.”

Sen. Grassley  said he favored the bill, but had some concerns.

“The ten-year term for an FBI director is good for the agency and our country. It was designed to insulate the FBI Director from the political process and ensure that no one Director amass too much power. It has worked for thirty-five years. But, we live in extraordinary times.

” Given the complex and uncertain time we live in, the good work of Director Mueller following September 11, and a heightened alert to terrorist attack following the death of Osama Bin Laden, this one-time statutory exemption that will extend the term of FBI Director Mueller’s term by two years is the right decision. I do this with trepidation, though, because of the constitutional and precedential concerns associated with this action.”

“I look forward to a hearing in the Judiciary Committee so we can address those concerns.”

It’s Showtime: Blago Takes Stand and Apologizes for Swearing on FBI Tapes

Gov Blagojevich in happier days as gov/state photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It’s finally Showtime.

Ex-Gov.  Rod Blagojevich took the stand in his own defense on Thursday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

“I used to be governor and I’m here to tell the truth,” Blagojevich said after being sworn in, the paper reported.

“In many ways, I feel very liberated — I’m ready to answer questions,” he said.

Blagojevich also took a moment to apologize for the a he spewed while being recorded by the FBI, and he said his teenage daughter told him to watch his language on the stand, the Sun-Times reported.

“When I hear myself saying that on tape, I’m an effin’ jerk, and I apologize,” he said, according to the Trib.

The Sun-Times wrote that Blagojevich “went through his own personal history — and it bordered on the absurd at times.”

To read more click here.

Senate Report Urges Obama Administration to Do More to Fight Mexican Cartels

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A just-released Senate report on Mexico drug trafficking urges  judicial and police reforms in Mexico and calls for the Obama Administration to provide more resources to its southern neighbor and  to do more to starve Mexico’s drug trafficking organizations of the money that fuels them.

The  report, issued by The U.S. Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control,  also recommends that the   Obama Administration take immediate steps to make pre-paid gift and credit cards – known as stored value – subject to cross-border reporting requirements.

The cards are currently not subject to any cross-border reporting requirements, which allows dirty money to cross the border unchecked.

The report also urges the State Department to expedite the delivery of  resources and develop performance measures for delivering equipment and implementing  judicial and police reform.

The U.S. government has  provided Mexico with 11 helicopters – eight Bell 412 helicopters for the Mexican military and three Blackhawk helicopters for the country’s federal police.  Six more Blackhawk helicopters are still in the pipeline, authorities said.

“The United States provides counternarcotics assistance throughout the world,” the report said. “But, our security partnership with Mexico is unique. We share a 1,969 mile border. What happens in Mexico has a deep impact on the United States and the reciprocal is also true.

“The Mexican government must continue to combat its country’s violent drug trafficking organizations and curb the supply of illicit drugs flowing into our country. It also must take action to better secure its northern border as well as its southern border with Central America to prevent illegal narcotics, weapons, and illicit proceeds from entering the country.

“At the same time, the U.S. must take action to better counter the southbound traffic of money and firearms that fuel the drug trafficking organizations, while also working to reduce our country’s massive demand for illegal narcotics.”

The Senate caucus is co-chaired by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ia.).

To read full report click here.

Distrust Mounts Between DEA and Colo. Sheriff in Aspen

Sheriff DiSalvo/sheriff photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

In Aspen, Colo., the scenic skiing area and playground for the rich, all is not well between the DEA  and the local sheriff.

The Aspen Times reports that the strain and distrust between the DEA and the Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo of Aspen was addressed in a private meeting Wednesday “with little headway being made.”

“A special agent with the DEA, along with DiSalvo and Aspen Police Chief Richard Pryor, said they failed to find any common ground, other than re-affirming that their long-standing drug-enforcement philosophies are starkly opposed,” the paper reported. “In other words, the next time the DEA penetrates Pitkin County to make an arrest, the Sheriff’s Office likely won’t be called on to help because the federal agency doesn’t trust it.”

“What it comes down to at this moment is that if the DEA comes to Aspen, they would not notify the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, but they might notify the Aspen Police Department,” DiSalvo told the paper.  “That’s a bridge we’re trying to build so in the future they will notify us so we can help them make their operation successful by our community standards.”

DEA agent Jim Schrant said it comes down to the  DEA’s lack of trust of  the sheriff’s office.

The mistrust heightened last week after the DEA arrest of  of six Aspen-area residents on drug charges. The DEA told the media that local officials weren’t notified of the drug sweep because the  former Sheriff Bob Braudis and DiSalvo have close ties to the suspects.

“Oftentimes we work with other jurisdictions and we’ve actually integrated them into our investigations because usually there’s a local narcotics task force that we’re working with hand-in-hand from the inception of the case,” DEA agent Schrant told the paper. “Unfortunately, that does not exist in the city of Aspen or Pitkin County.”

DiSalvo did not comment on the alleged ties to the suspects. He told the paper:

“There still seems to be a trust issue that I’m working on with the DEA. Those trust issues still exist. I think those trust issues around the acquaintances or people I know or see — I’m not as close with them as they think I am.”

Ex-Sheriff Braudis commented to the paper about DiSalvo.

“Despite what a member of the national police force, the DEA, said about Joe DiSalvo, he is as pure as the driven snow. I’m proud of him and the community should be, too.”

Rep. Nadler Criticizes FBI in Letter to Director Mueller Over Anthrax Probe

Rep. Nadler/gov photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The top Democrat on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution fired off a letter Wednesday to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller accusing the agency of providing “incomplete and misleading” information on the 2001 anthrax attacks to the committee.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) letter focuses on the amount of “silicon” that was contained in the deadly anthrax letters. He asks that the FBI forward any information that could shed light on the subject.

The FBI told the ticklethewire.com on Thursday  that the bureau “received the letter yesterday and we  will respond directly to Congressman Nadler.”

The following is the letter:

May 25, 2011
The Honorable Robert S. Mueller, III
Director
Federal Bureau of Investigation
J. Edgar Hoover Building
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20535-0001

Dear Director Mueller:

I am writing with respect to the investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) into the 2001 anthrax attacks and information provided by the Department of Justice (DOJ)/FBI to me about that case, which appears to have been incomplete and misleading.

On September 16, 2008, the House Committee on the Judiciary, on which I sit, conducted an oversight hearing of the FBI at which you testified. At that hearing, I asked you the following: “[W]hat was the percentage of weight of the silicon in the powders that your experts examined?” You testified that you would get back to me. On November 26, 2008, I sent to you this follow-up question in writing: “What was the percentage of weight of the silicon in the powder used in the 2001 anthrax attacks?”

On April 17, 2009, then-Acting Assistant Attorney General M. Faith Burton, of the DOJ Office of Legislative Affairs, responded with the following answer:

FBI Laboratory results indicated that the spore powder on the Leahy letter contained 14,470 ppm of silicon (1.4%). The spore powder on the New York Post letter was found to have silicon present in the sample; however, due to the limited amount of material, a reliable quantitative measurement was not possible. Insufficient quantifies of spore powder on both the Daschle and Brokaw letters precluded analysis of those samples.

Read more »