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Archive for July 28th, 2011

Judge Blocks Justice Dept. From Correcting Statement About Anthrax Suspect

Anthrax Suspect Bruce Ivins

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A federal judge temporarily blocked the Justice Department from correcting a court filing that undercut the FBI’s conclusion that Army researcher Bruce Ivins was responsible for the anthrax letter attacks in 2001, PBS Frontline, McClatchy and ProPublica reported in a joint story.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Hurley of West Palm Beach, Fla., on Monday issued a written order saying the government must “show good cause” before allowing Justice to amend the court filing.

The filing was part of a lawsuit filed by the wife of a National Enquirer photo editor Robert Stevens, claiming the government failed to do enough to protect people from an anthrax attack.

Monday’s court order  appeared more procedural than substantive.

The government in the original filing said that Ivins did not have access in the lab to the special equipment needed to make the deadly powder, the publications reported.

The Justice Department wants to correct that to say Ivin did in fact have access to the equipment at U.S. Army bio-weapons facility in Frederick, Md., where he worked.

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

William Newell

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.

Column: Norway Gunman Has a Lot in Common With OK Bomber Tim McVeigh

Andrew Gumbel, a Los Angeles-based journalist, is writing a book about the Oklahoma City bombing, due out from William Morrow next April.

By Andrew Gumbel
Los Angeles Times Op-Ed Page

America’s violent far right would have no difficulty recognizing the tell-tale signatures of Friday’s killing spree in Norway — and not just because they would see the confessed perpetrator, Anders Behring Breivik, as an ideological soul mate who, like their own heroes, thought he could trigger a white-supremacist revolution with bombs and bullets.

Breivik appears to have been more than simply inspired by American predecessors such as Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber: The materials he used, the way he planned and carried out his attacks, and his own writings all suggest he was deeply familiar with the actions of some notorious political killers on this side of the Atlantic.

Breivik possessed a Glock semiautomatic, the same weapon McVeigh was carrying when he was arrested by a hawk-eyed Highway Patrol officer 90 minutes after the April 1995 bombing in Oklahoma. Breivik also possessed a .223-caliber Ruger assault rifle, just like McVeigh.

To read the full column click here.

Ex-FBI Agent Finds Islamic Educational Material for New FBI Recruits Offensive

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

As recently as 2009, the FBI was presenting materials about Islam to new recruits  that former agent Mike German thought was a little shocking and might lead to abuse, according to the website Talking Points Memo.

“Certainly I was concerned with the approach the FBI was taking post-9/11, which is why I’m no longer with the FBI,” German, who is now with the ACLU,  told TPM. “I am shocked to see that this type of training material was produced in 2009.”

“The FBI is made up of human beings, and human beings make mistakes, but one would have thought by 2009 they would have understood this issue a little more clearly and realized how offensive that material would be read,” German said.

The website reported: “The FBI was telling new bureau recruits as recently as Jan. 2009 that Islam “transforms [a] country’s culture into 7th Century Arabian ways” and recommending a book written by one of Norwegian terrorism suspect Anders Behring Breivik’s favorite authors as well as the Complete Idiot’s Guide To Understanding Islam.”

TPM reported that some of the books included on a “Recommended Reading” slide are The Politically Incorrect Guide To Islam and The Truth About Muhammad by anti-Muslim blogger Robert Spencer, “who was cited 64 times by the Norwegian bombing suspect Breivik in his manifesto.”

The story was first reported by Spencer Ackerman in WIRED’s Danger Room.

The information was included in a 62-page slideshow produced by the FBI’s Law Enforcement Communications Unit, and obtained by the ACLU and the Asian Law Caucus via the Freedom of Information Act request filed last year, TPM reported.

The FBI, in a statement told WIRED, that the bureau’s presentation “was a rudimentary version used for a limited time that has since been replaced.” It said the Robert Spencer’s book was no longer on the recommended reading list.

“We encourage our agents to seek out a variety of viewpoints,” the FBI said. “That does not mean we endorse or adopt the view of any particular author,” the bureau’s statement continues. “Broad knowledge is essential for us to better understand and respond to the threats we face. Knowledge also helps us defeat ignorance and strengthen relationships with the diverse communities that we serve.”

Ex-Secret Service Agent and New Author Don Tucker Talks About Folks He Protected Like Pres. Reagan

EPA Agent Indicted for Allegedly Lying About Affair With FBI Agent

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A former special agent with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division in Dallas was indicted Wednesday in Louisiana for allegedly lying about having an affair with an FBI agent he was working with,  the Justice Department announced.

Keith Phillips, 61, of Kent, Tex. was charged with obstruction of justice and perjury stemming from his sworn testimony in a civil case currently pending in the Western District of Louisiana.

Authorities stated that Phillips and a female FBI agent from September 1996 to Dec. 14, 1999 investigated a criminal case that resulted in the indictment of Hubert Vidrine Jr. and several others.

The criminal charges against Vidrine were ultimately dismissed, and Vidrine turned around and filed a lawsuit against the federal government for malicious prosecution, authorities said.

Authorities said that during a deposition taken in  Vidrine’s civil suit,  agent  Phillips “allegedly falsely testified that he did not have an affair with the FBI special agent, when, in fact, he did. The indictment alleges that it was material to the civil lawsuit to determine any potential motives of the criminal investigators in investigating and prosecuting the charges against Vidrine, and that Phillips committed perjury when he testified falsely about the affair and obstructed justice when he provided this false testimony.”

The indictment also alleges that he then contacted the FBI agent and tried to convince her not to confess to the affair.

‪If convicted, Phillips faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on the obstruction of justice count and five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on the perjury count.‪ The case is being prosecuted by Marquest J. Meeks of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and was investigated by the EPA Office of Inspector General.

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