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Archive for June, 2011

Insecurity: How a Man Without a Legit Boarding Pass Hopped Aboard a Flight

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Atty. Gen. Holder to Probe Deaths of 2 People in CIA Custody

file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

In an announcement likely to stir up additional controversy over the CIA’s interrogation activities during the Bush years, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. on Thursday announced plans to launch an investigation into the deaths of two men while in the agency’s custody.

Holder, in a statement, said he had accepted the recommendation of federal prosecutor John Durham of Connecticut, who has been probing the CIA’s interrogation practices during the Bush administration.

“Mr. Durham has advised me of the results of his investigation, and I have accepted his recommendation to conduct a full criminal investigation regarding the death in custody of two individuals,” Holder said in a statement.

“Those investigations are ongoing. The Department has determined that an expanded criminal investigation of the remaining matters is not warranted.”

The following is the text of his full statement:

O n January 2, 2008, Attorney General Michael Mukasey appointed Assistant United States Attorney John Durham of the District of Connecticut to conduct a criminal investigation into the destruction of interrogation videotapes by the Central Intelligence Agency.

On August 24, 2009, based on information the Department received pertaining to alleged CIA mistreatment of detainees, I announced that I had expanded Mr. Durham’s mandate to conduct a preliminary review into whether federal laws were violated in connection with the interrogation of specific detainees at overseas locations.

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FBI Agent From Hawaii Helped Nab Mobster “Whitey” Bulger

By Dan Nokaso
Honolulu Star Advertiser

The trail had grown cold on fugitive mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger when FBI Special Agent Greg Comcowich helped create a nationwide ad campaign that led to the capture last week of one of the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted fugitives.

On June 21, the day after $50,000 worth of FBI-produced commercials on Bulger’s fugitive girlfriend — Catherine Elizabeth Greig — began airing on “The View,” ”The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” “Live! With Regis and Kelly” and other daytime television programs across the country, the FBI’s Violent Crimes Task Force captured Greig and Bulger in Santa Monica, Calif., after 16 years on the run.

“I never thought in my FBI career I would have ever been involved in something like this,” said Comcowich, a 42-year-old FBI special agent from Kailua (Hawaii) who works in the FBI’s Boston field office.

Comcowich graduated from the University of Hawaii Lab School in 1988 with the modest goal to briefly experience life on the East Coast, then return home to Kailua.

To read more click here.

DEA Busts Distributor and 9 Employees in Crack Down on “Bath Salt”

DEA Agent in front of NY Store Suspected of Selling Bath Salts/ dea photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The DEA has busted a major distributor of the recreational designer drug “bath salt” along with nine employees of retail shops in the first- ever federal prosecution of  the emerging drug known to produce a high comparable high to Ectasy.

The DEA in New York on Tuesday announced the arrest of  distributor Miguel Ashby and sellers  in Manhattan and Brooklyn:  Maxim Amar, Diana Asaro, Nassar Atrach, Yakob Biton, Dimitry Farber, Sufiyan Ganchi, Gabrielle Grife, Igor Kanchik, and Steve Zhik.

The DEA said that bath salts are synthetic stimulants that have no real value as a bath salt or other bath product.

“Bath salts” first emerged in the U.S. about two years ago and is typically snorted in powder form or ingested in pill form, but it can also be smoked or injected intravenously, the DEA said.

Users typically experience highs similar to that of the drug Ecstasy and stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamines, the DEA said.

Adverse effects include psychotic episodes, delusions, panic attacks, and increased heart rate, the DEA said.

Companies in China and India are principally responsible for manufacturing and exporting the drug, the DEA said.

“Nationwide the abuse of ‘bath salts’ has led to serious health consequences and death,” said John Gilbride , head of the DEA in New York. ” This investigation is further evidence that DEA and our law enforcement partners will not sit by while a new form of drug abuse takes hold. Let this be a message to not only those who sell this poison, but to those who abuse ‘bath salts’ that this road leads to a dead end.”

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara added in a statement:  “Bath salts are one of the latest designer drugs to reach our shores, and they have proven to be a public health and safety menace with serious, and sometimes deadly, consequences.”

Authorities said that “bath salts” are also often sold in dance clubs and at parties known as “raves”. They typically sell for approximately $40 to $100 per gram, and each packet contains approximately one quarter to one gram. A gram consists of approximately eight to 40 doses, the DEA said

Brand names include  “Aura,” “Ivory Wave,” “Russian River,” “Xtreme,”  and “Goodfellas.”

They are often labeled “not for human consumption” to circumvent federal narcotics laws, the DEA said.

Pres. Obama Defends Atty. Gen. Eric Holder in ATF Gun Controversy

Pres. Obama at press conference/white house photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

President Barack Obama on Wednesday defended Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. in connection with the scandal surrounding the controversial ATF program “Operation Fast and Furious.”

At a press conference, the president said that Holder “would not have ordered” the ATF program that encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers — all with the hopes of tracking the guns to the Mexican cartels, according to the Wall Street Journal. Some of those guns have showed up at crime scenes.

Holder and the president have denied knowing abou the program before it became shrouded in controversy.

Obama said an Inspector General probe into the controversy constrained his comments, but he promised to take action when it was completed, the Journal reported.

“My attorney general has made clear that he certainly would not have ordered gun-running to be able to pass through into Mexico,” Mr. Obama said. “I’ve made very clear my views that that would not be an appropriate step by the ATF, and we’ve got to find out how that happened. As soon as the investigation’s completed, I think appropriate actions will be taken.”

Judge Metes Out Harsh Sentence in Synagogue Bombing Plot; Sharply Criticizes Govt. in Sting

istock photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The sentence on Wednesday was harsh in the bombing plot of Bronx synagogues, but was so the lambasting the federal judge gave the federal government in its sting.

U.S.  District Judge Colleen McMahon sentenced  James Cromitie, 45, David Williams, 30, and Onta Williams, 35, to 25 years in prison in a Manhattan federal court.

But she also sharply criticized the government, saying, according to the New York Daily News:

“The essence of what occurred here is that a government understandably zealous to protect its citizens from terrorism came upon a man both bigoted and suggestible, one who was incapable of committing an act of terrorism on his own,” McMahon said, referring to Cromitie.

“It created acts of terrorism out of his fantasies of bravado and bigotry, and then made those fantasies come true,” she added.

The Daily News reported that the judge said  unlike other domestic terror cases, “the government did not have to infiltrate and foil some nefarious plot – there was no nefarious plot to foil.”

Then she took aim at the defendants.

“You were not political or religious martyrs,” the judge said. “You were thugs for hire, pure and simple.”

In May 2009, the FBI charged the trio after they left bombs in front of the Riverdale Jewish Center and the Riverdale Temple. The bomb, which ended up being fake, were provided by an FBI informant.

The Daily News reported that the informant lured Cromite into the plot with money.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

FBI and Others Probing Possible Shenanigans at Arlington Cemetary

gov photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The  FBI and other federal agencies  have launched a probe into one of the nation’s treasures –Arlington National Cemetary.

The Washington Post reports that authorities are looking into possible contracting fraud and falsification of records. The paper cited “eople familiar with the investigation.”

A federal grand jury in Alexandria is looking into the matter in a probe being investigated by the FBI, the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command and Justice Department, the Post reported, adding that the investigation has been underway for at least six months.

The Post reported that a report by the  Army inspector general found:: a dysfunctional management system; millions wasted on information technology contracts that produced useless results; misplaced and misidentified remains; and at least four cases in which crematory urns had been dug up and dumped in a dirt pile.

To read full story click here.

Finally:Pres. Obama Nominates 4 to Fill U.S. Attorney Spots in Texas

John Malcolm Bales/doj photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Better late than never.

After taking criticism for taking so long, President Obama on Tuesday nominated people to fill the four U.S. Attorney spots in Texas.

The White House nominated Kenneth Magidson for the southern district, Sarah Ruth Saldaña for the northern district, Robert Lee Pitman for the western distirct and John Malcolm Bales for the eastern district.

The following is bios as written in a  White House Press release:

Malcolm Bales is the interim United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, a position he has held since 2009. Over the course of his career, Mr. Bales served within the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas as the Chief and Deputy Criminal Chief for the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (2009; 1992-1995), Assistant U.S. Attorney for Special Prosecutions (2006-2008), Chief of the Criminal Division (2003-2006), Attorney-in-Charge (1995-2003), and as an Assistant U.S. Attorney (1989-1992). Mr. Bales also served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado in 1995. From 1982 to 1989, Mr. Bales was a Special Agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Mr. Bales was an attorney for Hancock, Piedfor, Galton, McGill from 1981 to 1982. Mr. Bales graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1977 and the University of Texas School of Law in 1980.

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