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Archive for July 27th, 2011

It’s Official: FBI Dir. Mueller Onboard for 2 More Years

Robert Mueller III / file fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethwire.com

It’s official.

The Senate by a 100-0 vote officially extended FBI Director Robert Mueller’s term Wednesday by two years, the Associated Press reported.

The vote — a sign of the confidence the Senate has in Mueller — came a day after President Obama signed legislation  that opened the way for Mueller to get the two year extension.  After signing the bill, the White House nominated Mueller, and the Senate voted to confirm him.

His 10-year term was to expire in August.

“With the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaching, and a continued threat from al-Qaida, we find ourselves facing unique circumstances,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy, a Democrat, according to AP. “We need leadership, stability and continuity at the FBI as the president makes necessary shifts to his national security team.”

Mueller is the first FBI director to serve the full 10-year term after J. Edgar Hoover died.

Masked Robbers Flash FBI Badges in Burbank, Calif. Home Invasion

Column: Ouch! Make ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious Mess Go Away

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

OUCH! Make it stop.

It’s becoming all too painful to see the Congressional probe into ATF’s highly-flawed operation dubbed Fast and Furious.

Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Charles Grassley have been leading the charge into the investigation of the operation that encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers, all with the hope of tracing them to the Mexican cartels.  The two Republicans have been releasing one embarrassing fact after another over the past months.

ATF has looked bad. So has the Justice Department.  On Tuesday, it was all the more painful to watch the Issa’s  Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hold a hearing on Capitol Hill.

Some ATF agents who testified, who were based in Mexico ,were apologetic and embarrassed about Fast and Furious. That was heartening and good to see.

But what wasn’t so fun to see was William Newell, the former head of the ATF Phoenix Division, who helped lede the Fast and Furious operation.  Newell may be a decent guy, but I’m told he lacked the experience needed to foresee that Operation Fast and Furious was going to be a disaster.

Newell came off like the consumate company man. He drove committee members up the wall when he consistently said ATF did not “walk guns”, when in fact ATF, under his leadership,  clearly did. As if that weren’t bad enough, he admitted that there were some flaws in the operation, but refused to come clean and say it simply stunk.

He just kept saying he should have conducted more “risk assessment” during the operation to better pinpoint problems. It sounded bad.

Interestingly, Newell has been holed up in Washington helping Congressional investigators and the Inspector General’s Office investigate the whole mess.  He’s been assigned to be the ATF attache in Mexico City. He has yet to go.

And if ATF and the White House have any smarts, they won’t send him to Mexico  as the attache.  The Mexican  government is still fuming over the operation that put more deadly guns into the hands of the out-of-control drug cartels. If they do, you can bet that Newell won’t be given a king’s welcome down there. In fact, who knows, the Mexican government could arrest him for his role in Fast and Furious.

In any event, let’s get the warts and all of this operation out in the open quickly. Let’s end this painful mess.

Make it go away.

Authorities Say DEA Cases Show Growing Link Between Drugs and Terrorism

Authorities in New York announce indictments/doj photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The DEA on Tuesday announced two narco-terrorism stings out of New York that authorities say shows the growing link between drugs and terrorism.

Authorities say the case involved Hizballah, the group based in Lebanon and the Taliban.

“Today’s indictments provide fresh evidence of what many of us have been saying for some time: that there is a growing nexus between drug trafficking and terrorism, a nexus that increasingly poses a clear and present danger to our national security,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. “Combating this lethal threat requires a bold and proactive approach. And as crime increasingly goes global, and national security threats remain global, the long arm of the law has to get even longer.”

The first indictment alleged that  Siavosh Henareh, Bachar Wehbe, and Cetin Aksu conspired to provide support to Hizballah. In the Hizballah case, authorities say suspects were busted for agreeing to acquire $9.5 Million Worth of Surface-to-Air Missiles and weapons for Hizballah, the Lebanese-based organization.

The second indictment charged Taza Gul Alizai (“Gul”) for narco-terrorism conspiracy, narco-terrorism, and heroin importation for allegedly supplying of 15 kilograms of heroin and six AK-47 assault rifles to a DEA confidential source  he believed  believed represented the Taliban.

Henareh and Aksu were arrested Monday in Bucharest, Romania, where they were detained pending extradition to the United States, authorities said .Wehbe and Gul were arrested Monday  in the Republic of the Maldives, and arrived in the Southern District of New York earlier Tuesday.

In the Hizballah case, authorities alleged that beginning in June 2010, Henareh had a series of meetings in countries including Turkey, Romania, and Greece with DEA confidential sources — at least one of whom represented themselves as representatives of Hizballah.

Authorities say  Henareh agreed to arrange the importation of hundreds of kilograms of high‑quality heroin into the United States. The confidential source indicated to Henareh that the profits from the sale of the heroin in the United States would be used, among other things, to purchase weapons for Hizballah.

The  DEA sources were introduced to Aksu and Wehbe. In February 2011, in Romania, Cyprus, Malaysia, and elsewhere, Aksu and Wehbe agreed to purchase military‑grade weaponry from confidential DEA sources on behalf of  Hizballah. In those meetings, and in telephone calls and email messages, Aksu and Wehbe discussed the purchase of American-made Stinger surface-to-air missiles (“SAMs”), Igla SAMs, AK‑47 and M4 assault rifles, M107 .50 caliber sniper rifles, and ammunition, from among other places, an American base in Germany.

On June 13, 2011, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Aksu and Wehbe signed a written contract for the purchase of 48 American-made Stinger SAMs, 100 Igla SAMs, 5,000 AK‑47 assault rifles, 1,000 M4 rifles, and 1,000 Glock handguns, for a total price of approximately $9.5 million.

New Head of Phoenix FBI James Turgal Was Former Defense Attorney

FBI Computer System Completed; Can Distribute Info to Outside Agencies

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI can now automatically share information with local, state, regional and other law-enforcement agencies, the website InformationWeek reported.

The publication reported that Raytheon said it finished — albeit late — its final phase of the National Data Exchange (N-DEx) system, InformationWeek reported

The system enables the  FBI to distribute information about criminal justice cases  to 200,000 investigators at more than 18,000 federal, local, state, and tribal agencies, the website reported. The system also can analyze crime trends.

FBI Agents Held Off For Hours Telling Suspect Why He Was Arrested

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A federal judge  was none to happy to hear that the FBI intentionally failed for several hours to tell a man suspected of planting a bomb at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Spokane, Wash., why he had been arrested, the Associated Press reported. He was also not immediately read his Miranda warning.

AP reported that the FBI held off on telling suspect Kevin Harpham, 37, a white supremacist, to try and gain his trust. Harpham provided no confession during that time.

U.S. District Judge Justin Quackenbush indicated he would have barred prosecutors from using any statement at trial, slated for Aug. 22.

In court testimony, FBI agent Joseph Cleary said agents were trying to win the trust of Harpham.

“Agent Cleary acknowledged that with this procedure the agents hoped Harpham would give a statement and confess to an offense, which he did not,” court documents said, according to AP.

Agents taped a 10 minute conversation with Harmpham at Stevens County Sheriff’s Office without reading him his rights, the court records showed.

“No incriminating or inculpatory statements were made by Harpham during that time,” court documents said.

FBI Report at Odds With ATF Claims About Border Agent’s Murder

Brian Terry

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

More controversy surrounding ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious.

The Los Angeles Times is reporting a discrepancy between what ATF and the FBI have said about the guns that were sold under the operation, which encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to middlemen or “straw purchasers”, with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels.

The Times reports that ATF’s top spokesman had said that no guns from the operation were used in the murder last December of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Two guns had been found at the scene, but not linked to the actual shooting, officials had said in the past.

But a copy of the FBI report on the FBI ballistics did not rule out a link with the Fast and Furious guns, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Times reported that the FBI records show that on Dec. 23, just days after the shooting, the FBI’s “Report of Examination” said the fatal bullet came from a semiautomatic rifle, but that “due to a lack of sufficient agreement in the individual microscopic marks of value” on the weapons, “it could not be determined” which gun fired it.

The Times, citing an unnamed source, said the bullet that killed Terry was badly damaged “and that’s why the FBI only got a partial match to the weapons. It was just too badly fragmented.”

Some have also tried to link guns from the operation to the murder in Mexico of ICE agent Jamie Zapata.

But a source recently told ticklethewire.com that there was no link established in that shooting.

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