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Archive for September, 2011

Preview of CNN Special Report: The Anthrax Investigation 10 Years Later — Sunday at 8 p.m.

Opinions Mixed on Assassination of US Born Radical Cleric Anwar al-Awlaki

al-Awlaki

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

On tv, radio and on the Internet, pro and con opinions are rapidly cropping up over the assassination in Yemen of Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical U.S.-born Muslim cleric.

Plenty folks in the U.S. were simply elated. Period.

But others  are questioning whether the U.S. has stepped over the line by assassinating the U.S. citizen.

President Obama called Awlaqi’s death “a major blow to al-Qaeda’s most active operational affiliate” and described him as “the leader of external operations for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” according to the Washington Post.

“In that role, he took the lead in planning and directing efforts to murder innocent Americans,” Obama said at a ceremony honoring the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at Fort Myer, Fla., the Post reported.

Rep. Peter King (R-NY), when asked by CNN Friday whether he had a problem with President Obama approving the assassination of an American citizen, said the only problem he would have had would have been if the president had not ordered the assassination.

Charlie Dunlap, visiting professor of law at Duke University Law School and director of Duke’s Center on Law, Ethics and National Security, said in a statement:

“In short, if a U.S. citizen overseas presents an imminent threat, or is a participant in an organized armed group engaged in armed conflict against the U.S., as the administration seems to be alleging is the case with al-Awlaki, the mere fact that he may also be accused of criminal offenses does not necessarily give him sanctuary from being lawfully attacked overseas as any other enemy belligerent might be.”

Here’s some samples of  opinions on newspaper websites around the country:

Reader DELewes wrote in the Washington Post:  “While a happy result, the means is a little frightening. We need a serious discussion of proper conduct of war…”

Reader battleground51 wrote in the Post: “This seems to be one of the things Obama is doing right.”

In the New York Times, Shane from New England wrote:  “Great news. With the murder of Bin Laden, this is a real feather in the president’s cap. The world is safer (I hope) today.”

A.S. of CA wrote in the Times: “Yes, Awlaki made videos supporting Al quaeda and wrote sermons. But as the Supreme Court has made it unambiguously clear in the past, advocating violence is protected free speech.”

Kevin D. Williamson, in a column in the National Review wrote:

“Here are two facts: (1) Anwar al-Awlaki is an American citizen and an al-Qaeda propagandist. (2) Pres. Barack Obama proposes to assassinate him. Between the first fact and the second falls the shadow.

“The Awlaki case has led many conservatives into dangerous error, as has the War on Terror more generally. That conservatives are for the most part either offering mute consent or cheering as the Obama administration draws up a list of U.S. citizens to be assassinated suggests not only that have we gone awry in our thinking about national security, limitations on state power, and the role of the president in our republic, but also that we still do not understand all of the implications of our country’s confrontation with Islamic radicalism.”

In response to the column, reader RobL wrote: “OK so if a policeman kills a criminal who is shooting at him, is this an assassination?

If a National Guardsman shoots and kills a looter during a state of emergency, is that an assassination?

If Major Hassan was killed by the guard woman who shot him, would that have been an assassination.

No, no and no!

al-Awlaki whether a citizen or not was declared war against the United States has plotted to kill and successfully organized missions to kill Americans.”

 

Illegal Video Download Host Who Let Millions See Free Movies and TV Shows Pleads Guilty

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

In June of last year the feds shut down the website NinjaVideo.net, which let millions of viewers see copyright-protected movies and television programs in high-quality formats for free or for a nominal fee.

On Thursday,  one of the site’s founders, Hana A. Beshara of Las Vegas,  pleaded guilty in Alexandria, Va. to conspiracy and criminal copyright infringement.  Sentencing is set for Jan. 6.

Beshara admitted the site collected more than $500,000 in overall proceeds over its two-and-a-half-year existence, and that she earned more than $200,000. Beshara agreed to forfeit assets seized by law enforcement in the June 2010 raid “including cash, an investment brokerage account, two bank accounts, a Paypal account and one Internet advertising account,” according to a Justice Department press release.

A press release from the Justice Department said:

“The NinjaVideo.net website allowed visitors to download infringing copies of hundreds of television shows and movies, including those still playing in theaters and some that had not yet been released in theaters. Website visitors could download much of the infringing content for free, but visitors who “donated” at least $25 obtained access to private forum boards that contained a wider range of infringing material.”

 

FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List Really Just Eight Most Wanted for Now

Whitey Bulger

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI’s legendary Ten Most Wanted list is really only the Eight Most Wanted list these days.

Two of the the most well-known figures on the list — Osama bin Laden and Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger — are no longer wanted. Bin Laden was killed by the U.S. military in Pakistan in May and Bulger was captured by the FBI in California in June. No one has replaced them.

Their pictures remain on the list on the FBI webpage. But the word “Captured” has been added to Bulger’s photo and “Deceased” has been added to bin Laden’s.

The FBI told ticklethewire.com on  Friday that there’s “no time frame” for when the two vacancies will be filled. The process of filling the spots is a detailed one that includes FBI field offices around the country submitting recommendations that are then reviewed at headquarters and ultimately approved by FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III.

So in the meantime, it remains the FBI’s Eight Most Wanted list.

The list currently includes less well-known names like Jason Derek Brown, Robert William Fisher and Eduardo Ravelo.

Eduardo Ravelo appears to be one of the more notable fugitives.

The FBI said he is a Captain (Capo) within the Barrio Azteca organization and issues orders to the Barrio Azteca members residing in Juarez, Mexico. He also has ties to El Paso, Tex.

Eduardo Ravelo/fbi photo

Authorities alleged that Ravelo and the Barrio Azteca members act as “hitmen” for the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes Drug Trafficking Organization and are responsible for numerous murders. The FBI said he may have had plastic surgery and altered his fingerprints.

Fisher is wanted on charges of killing his wife and two young children and then blowing up the house in which they all lived in Scottsdale, Az. in April of 2001.

Brown is wanted for murder and armed robbery in Phoenix, Arizona.  Authorities say Brown allegedly shot and killed an armored car guard outside a movie theater in November of 2004 and then fled with the money.

 

DEA Scares Roswell, N.M. Couple With Mistaken Raid

Great Strides Made in Nation’s Biodefenses Since 2001 Anthrax Attacks; But Concerns Linger

One of the real anthrax letters in 2001/fbi photo

By Dan Vergano
USA TODAY

Anthrax-laced letters that killed five people, targeted U.S. senators and paralyzed post offices a decade ago have reshaped the nation’s biodefenses.

While confidence is higher that the United States is better protected, there are continuing worries about potential threats in the coming era of “synthetic biology,” man-made designer microbes.

Nationwide, subways and airports now have germ-sniffing sensors, new federal biodefense labs have been erected and specially trained FBI teams stand ready to investigate bioterrorist attacks, all absent in 2001.

Bruce Budowle/univ. photo

“We are certainly better prepared for another anthrax attack,” says former FBI scientist Bruce Budowle, now of the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth. “But we still don’t know everything else that is out there in the environment, and ‘synthetic biology’ is a whole new concern.”

To rad the rest of the story click here.

FBI Plans to Change Definition of Rape to Better Capture Stats

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Are rapes recorded accurately?

Apparently not, which is why the the FBI is in the process of changing the definition of rape for the first time in 80 years, reports the Baltimore Sun.

The Sun reports that critics have insisted the definition is too narrow, resulting in fewer stats and less resources for victims and law enforcement.

The paper reports that a subcommittee of the Criminal Justice Information Service of the FBI plans to address the matter at an Oct. 18 meeting in Baltimore.

Recommendations will go to an advisory board and then to FBI Director Robert Mueller for approval, the Sun reported.

Greg Scarbro, the FBI’s unit chief for the Uniform Crime Report, said the agency has been discussing revisions since last year.

“From the highest levels of the FBI, there’s an understanding that this needs to change, Greg Scarbro, the FBI’s unit chief for the Uniform Crime Report, told the Sun. “We just need to make sure it happens in the right way,” he said.

The paper reports that rape has long been defined “as forcible male penile penetration of a female — which excludes cases involving oral and anal penetration, where the victims were drugged or under the influence of alcohol, and male victims.”

 OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

 

 

Rumor Mill Works Overtime in Controversy Between FBI and LA County Sheriff’s Dept.

 
Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The rumor mill has been working overtime involving the controversy between FBI and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Sheriff Lee Baca is fuming that the FBI didn’t tell him about its investigation into inmate abuse, or the fact that the FBI, in an undercover sting, paid a sheriff’s deputy about $1,500 to sneak a cellphone into an inmate who happened to be an FBI informant. When  Baca learned of it all, he was none too happy.

The sheriff announced an investigation into the whole matter and into the sheriff’s deputy who snuck the phone in the jail. The deputy has since resigned, the LA Times reported. It is a crime to sneak a phone into the jail.

Things have been heating up.

A source tells ticklethewire.com that sheriff’s deputies on Monday night visited the home of the FBI case agent in the matter and told her they planned to arrest her. They did not on Monday. On Wednesday, after ticklethewire.com reported the incident, Sheriff Baca told the Los Angeles Times of the possibility of charging the agent:  “No, I don’t think so. It’s not worthy of pursuing, in view of the greater good.” He said the agent directed the deputies’ questions to her supervisor,and Baca dismissed suggestions the visit by deputies was intended to intimidate the agent.”

At the same time, word began circulating this week that the case agent’s supervisor,  Victor Cockrell, an FBI supervisor in the Los Angeles civil rights division, which was handling the case, suddenly decided to retire. Some suggested there might be a connection between the retirement and the case.

But Cockrell told ticklethewire.com on Wednesday that his decision to retire has nothing whatsoever to do with the case.

“It was time to retire,” he said. “I have served my country and it’s time to do something else.”

He declined to comment on the case, saying it would be inappropriate to comment on any case.

Laura Eimiller, a spokeswoman for the FBI Los Angeles office, told ticklethewire.com on Wednesday via email: “Mr. Cockrell’s comment speaks for itself and we wish him the very best.”

Regarding the overall investigation, she told the Times: “With regard to the investigation, FBI agents at all times were acting within the course and scope of their duties and were in compliance with FBI policy and practices.”

Whatever the case, people in law enforcement in Los Angeles have been talking about the controversy, which is sure to percolate  for a while.