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Archive for June 20th, 2011

ATF Head Ken Melson Expected to Resign Under Pressure in Coming Days

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Kenneth Melson, acting head of ATF, is expected to resign under pressure in coming days, CNN reported.

At the same time, Andrew Traver, head of the Chicago ATF, who has been nominated by the White House to take over on a permanent basis, is set to meet Tuesday with Attorney Gen. Eric Holder Jr.  to talk about possibly stepping in as acting director pending the outcome of his confirmation process , according to media reports. The Wall Street Journal  had reported in recent days that the White House was expected to remove Melson.

The anticpacted resignation comes in the midst of what has turned into an ugly controversy over Operation Fast and Furious, the program that encouraged gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers, all the with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartesl. Guns from the program have been linked to the death of border patrol agent Brian Terry.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who has led the charge, along with Sen. Chuck Grassleyd (R-Ia.), against the program, said at a hearing last week that Melson was “deep in the weeds” with the program and was regularly monitoring it.

FBI Starts Unique Campaign; Running Ads About Top 10 Fugitive Whitey Bulger’s Girlfriend

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI isn’t giving up on finding the ever-elusive Top 10 fugitive, Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger, who is wanted for 19 murders.

The latest: the FBI is launching what it calls a “unique new publicity campaign” by focusing on Catherine Elizabeth Greig, the longtime girlfriend of Bulger. She has not been charged in his crimes, but is a federal fugitive wanted for harboring Bulger.

The campaign includes a 30-second, FBI- produced  public service announcement (PSA) that will begin airing Tuesday on  TV stations around the country. The announcement will hone in on  Greig’s relationship with Bulger and her physical characteristics.

The FBI said it purchased about 350 time slots in media markets in 14 cities in 10 states. The cities are Albuquerque, Biloxi, MS; Boston, Chicago,Ft. Myers, Miami, Milwaukee, Mobile, AL; New Orleans, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Tampa, and Tucson.

“The FBI believes that publicizing Catherine Grieg’s photo and characteristics among her contemporaries will lead to a tip about her whereabouts and, ultimately, to the arrest of Bulger,”  Richard DesLauriers, head of the  Boston Division, said in a statement.

The FBI said the PSA  announcement will air during shows that have a high percentage of female viewers in the same age group as 60-year-old Greig.

The FBI said it homes someone in that audience — a friend, co-worker, neighbor, hair stylist, manicurist, doctor or dentist —  might recognize Greig.

“In terms of publicity, for 100 years the FBI has known that combining the reach and power of the media with alert citizens is a successful formula for catching fugitives,”  FBI  Supervisory Special Agent Richard Teahan, who leads the Boston FBI task force searching for Bulger, said in a statement.  “So we’re taking the next logical step and focusing on Greig as part of a unique initiative.”

The PSA points out that there is more than 21-year age difference between Greig and Bulger, who is 81.

The FBI said some tibits about her include: she loves dogs and all kinds of animals; she is likely to have well-kept teeth because she previously worked as a dental hygienist; she likes to frequent beauty salons and prior to fleeing with Bulger in 1995, she had multiple plastic surgeries.

Authorities said she has blue eyes, is 5 feet 6 inches tall, and had a thin build when she fled.

She is known to go by the aliases Helen Marshal and Carol Shapeton.

The FBI said the last credible sighting of the couple was in London in 2002.

The FBI is offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to her capture and $2 million for Bulger’s arrest.

Washington Examiner Editorial: Don’t Make ATF’s Chief Ken Melson a Scapegoat in Operation Fast and Furious

Ken Melson/atf photo

By The Washington Examiner
Editorial Page

WASHINGTON — Credible media reports have it that Kenneth Melson, acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, will get his walking papers this week as a result of his approval of Operation Fast and Furious, aka “Gunwalker.”

That’s the program in which ATF purposely allowed as many as 2,000 lethal weapons, including assault rifles such as the infamous AK-47, to be sold to representatives of Mexican drug cartels. The idea was that ATF would be able to link the weapons to specific individuals and prosecute them after the firearms were recovered at crime scenes in Mexico and the U.S. Melson and other senior ATF officials enthusiastically backed Gunwalker, which originated in the agency’s Phoenix office.

The ludicrous logic behind Gunwalker was exposed in December when a U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed in a confrontation with drug cartel thugs about 18 miles inside the U.S. border with Mexico in the Arizona desert. Two Gunwalker assault rifles were recovered from the scene in which Agent Brian Terry, an ex-Marine with a wife and children, died in the shootout. At least 150 Mexican law enforcement officers and an unknown number of cartel figures and civilians have also been killed with Gunwalker weapons. What ATF officials thought would become a key tool in bringing down the Mexican cartels instead, and predictably, became a U.S. government-sanctioned gun-running operation that bought enough high-powered weapons to equip hundreds of remorseless killers operating on both sides of the border.

That Melson should be removed is obvious, as should other senior ATF officials in Washington and in the field. But Gunwalker could not have gone as far as it did without the approval of senior Justice Department officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder, which is why The Washington Examiner last week called for Holder’s resignation.

To read more click here.

Ex-FBI Agent Says Defense Attys Accused Him of Writing Fiction in Affidavits: Now He’s Writing Fiction Books

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ex-FBI agent turned author Bob Hammer explains why he turned to writing.

“In the original Rocky movie Rocky tells Adrian he boxes because he can’t sing or dance. I can identify,” Hammer wrote in a column posted on the website Big Hollywood.

“After twenty-six years as an FBI agent, I now write because I can’t sing or dance. Throughout my career, criminal defense attorneys accused me of being a great fiction writer, referring to the affidavits I filed against their clients. In retirement, I thought I’d put those so-called fiction writing skills to good use.

Hammer has just published his second novel, “Targets Down“, part of an ongoing sequel about an undercover FBI agent named Matt Hogan.

“Much of my career was spent undercover so it makes sense Matt Hogan, my alter-ego, would be an undercover FBI agent…only younger, better looking, and with more hair than I have.

“Although fiction, I want to give the reader a realistic look at the FBI and what undercover work really entails. Hollywood seldom gets it right and too often our perception is only what we see on the big screen.”

To read more click here.

Wife of Missing Ex-FBI Agent Robert Levinson Writes Letter to Commemorate Their 37th Wedding Anniversary

Robert Levinson

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The wife of Robert Levinson, the ex-FBI agent who went missing from an Iranian island in 2007,  posted a letter “To my dear husband Bob” on the Internet on Friday to commemorate their 37th wedding  anniversary.  The letter from wife Christina  noted how painful the whole ordeal has been.

The U.S.  announced earlier this year that it believed Levinson, 63, was alive and being held in Southwest Asia. But Levinson has yet to surface.

The letter, which was posted on the website Help Bob Levinson, is as follows:

To my dear husband Bob,

On the occasion of the anniversary of our 37 years of marriage, just a few short weeks ago, I’m writing to you in hopes that this message finds you. This should be a time of celebration and instead it is a time of anxiety, pain and frustration.

When we took our vows, for better or for worse, never did I imagine the circumstances we find ourselves in.

This situation has thrust me into a position in which I feel lost and ill prepared.

I imagined us enjoying this time in our life together raising our children, seeing them off to college, watching them get married, starting families of their own and growing into productive citizens we are proud of.

Instead the last four years, separated from you, have been a living hell. I’ve lived with uncertainty, frustration and anticipation waiting for your safe return to us.

I am willing to do whatever is necessary to bring you home. At the same time I’m at a loss as to how I can do that.

These uncertain times all over the world further complicate what I, a wife and mother who has dedicated her life to her family, can do to influence change.

I remain hopeful that by the grace of God, you will soon walk through our front door and this nightmare will be over.

We will never get this time back which makes each day that passes all the more precious.

Know that our deep faith in God provides comfort and hope that you remain safe and cared for until we are reunited.

I will never abandon you.

Your loyal and devoted wife,

Christine

New York Times Editorial: When it Comes to Basic American Rights, FBI Going Backwards

By The New York Times
Editorial Page

The Obama administration has long been bumbling along in the footsteps of its predecessor when it comes to sacrificing Americans’ basic rights and liberties under the false flag of fighting terrorism. Now the Obama team seems ready to lurch even farther down that dismal road than George W. Bush did.

Instead of tightening the relaxed rules for F.B.I. investigations — not just of terrorism suspects but of pretty much anyone — that were put in place in the Bush years, President Obama’s Justice Department is getting ready to push the proper bounds of privacy even further.

Attorney General John Ashcroft began weakening rights protections after 9/11. Three years ago, his successor, Michael Mukasey, issued rules changes that permit agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to use highly intrusive methods — including lengthy physical surveillance and covert infiltration of lawful groups — even when there is no firm basis for suspecting any wrongdoing.

To read full editorial click here.

FBI Agent James Hosty Who Investigated Oswald Dead at Age 86; He Got Letter From Oswald Weeks Before the JFK Assassination

 
 
 
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Assassin Lee Harvey Oswald quickly became a household name. For the most part, many to this  day, have never heard of former FBI agent James P. Hosty. But there was a well-known link between the two.

Hosty, who died of prostate cancer on June 10 at age 86 in Kansas City, Mo.,   started investigating  Oswald, a suspected communist agitator, weeks before the assassination of President Kennedy, according to the New York Times. In early November, he tried to track Oswald down, but had no luck.

The Times reported that Oswald had come to the attention of authorities after returning to the states in 1962 with his Russian wife after trying, without success, to settle in the Soviet Union.

The Times reported that Oswald had previously been interviewed by other FBI agents, who noted in reports that he was an avowed communist, a potential spy and a heavy drinker. It said nothing about him being a potential assassin.

The Times reported that Hosty finally caught up with Oswald on Nov. 22, 1963, at Dallas Police headquarters where he was being held after being accused of killing  Kennedy and a Dallas cop.

At a Congressional hearing, according to the Times, years after the assassination, Hosty  told a  Congressional committee years  why he did not alert the Secret Service about Oswald: “The only thing that we could tell the Secret Service was a direct threat to the president. He made no direct threat to the president. Therefore we could not tell them.”

In 1964, before the Warren Commission, he admitted getting a letter from Oswald weeks before the assassination, protesting Hosty interviewing his wife Marina twice at their home while Oswald wasn’t there, the Times reported.  He admitted destroying the letter on the day Oswald’s assassin Jack Ruby was killed.

The Times reported that Hosty admitted some mistakes.

But he wrote in his memoirs that the FBI erred by trying to eliminate any evidence that might suggest  the bureau might have had a hint of Oswald’s plans to kill Kennedy. The bureau also tried to portray him as a bumbler.

“I came to understand that one of our jobs was to protect the bureau’s image at all costs,” he wrote.

To read more click here.