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Archive for September 6th, 2011

Appeals Court Rules Against Justice Dept. in Cellphone Tracking Case

 By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The D.C. Appeals Court ruled against the Justice Department Wednesday, saying it must publicly disclose secret information about how and when the government gathers and uses cell phone location data to track certain criminal suspects, CNN reported.

“The disclosure sought by the plaintiffs would inform this ongoing public policy discussion by shedding light on the scope and effectiveness of cell phone tracking as a law enforcement tool,” a three-judge panels said in a 35-page ruling, according to CNN. “It would, for example, provide information about the kinds of crimes the government uses cell phone tracking data to investigate.”

The court ruled that the public interest outweighed the government’s privacy claim in what amounted to a warrantless wiretap.

CNN reported that the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit demanding the release of info after initially requesting the information under the Freedom of Information Act. The ACLU asked for court docket information on current and past cases in which the feds tracked people using mobile location data. It also wanted to know about the government’s policies, procedures and practices when using the tracking technology.

The BLT: Blot of the LegalTimes, reported that a lawyer for the ACLU, Catherine Crump, who argued in the D.C. Circuit, said in an e-mail: “Americans have a strong interest in understanding when and how our cell phones are being converted into tracking beacons by the government without a warrant, which apparently has become a common practice. Tracking someone’s location 24 hours a day for days on end can reveal very private personal information, and the government should not be able to do it without a strong suspicion that it will turn up evidence of a crime.”

A Justice Department spokesman said the department was reviewing the case, according to the LegalTimes blog.

 

Head of El Paso FBI David Cuthbertson Named Assistant Director

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

David Cuthbertson, head of the FBI’s El Paso Division, has been named assistant director of the Justice Information Services Division.

Cuthbertson joined the FBI in 1988 and was assigned to the Cincinnati Division working motorcycle and violent street gangs and drug trafficking.

In 1992, he transferred to the Dallas Division, where he investigated Mexican drug trafficking organizations. He was also assigned to the Plano Resident Agency, where he investigated white-collar crime, drug trafficking, and violent crime.

In 1997, Cuthbertson was promoted to a supervisory position in the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. He also served as acting unit chief of the Latin American Unit.

He was subsequently promoted to serve as field supervisor of the Denver Division’s Metro Gang Task Force. He eventually assumed program coordinator responsibilities for the organized crime and drug programs.

In 2002, he headed east to Chicago where he served as assistant special agent in charge of the Criminal Enterprise Branch. In 2004, he was given responsibility for the division’s international terrorism and domestic terrorism programs.

The following year, he was designated as an inspector. He was promoted to section chief in the Criminal Justice Information Services Division in 2005. Shortly after, in 2006, he was promoted to deputy assistant director within the division.

In November 2007, he was named head of the El Paso FBI.

 

NYPD Spied on Mosques and Innocent People

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Associated Press has obtained confidential documents that show the New York cops collected intelligence on more than 250 mosques and Muslim student groups in and around New York.

AP reported that the department used undercover officers and informants to canvas the Islamic population of New York.

AP wrote that the secret documents “highlight how the past decade’s hunt for terrorists also put huge numbers of innocent people under scrutiny as they went about their daily lives in mosques, businesses and social groups.”

To read more click here.

FBI and Homeland Security Warn That Terrorists Could Use Small Planes

  
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The feds worry that terrorist aren’t just looking at the big planes as a weapon to kill.

ABC News reports that the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI issued a warning Friday about small planes, saying:

“Violent extremists with knowledge of general aviation and access to small planes pose a significant potential threat to the homeland.”

ABC reports there are 228,000 general aviation planes at 4,000 airports across the nation.

Intelligence experts say al Qaeda is no longer determined to pursue only massive 9/11-style attacks.

“They have sort of taken on this view of death by a thousand cuts, that if they try a lot of smaller attacks they are just as effective as the fear factor, so they really get more bang for their buck to do smaller attacks,” said ABC News consultant and former FBI investigator Brad Garrett.

 

ATF Grenade Case Linked to Cartels Contributed to Ouster of Top Officials


U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke

 By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The case involving an Arizona man who was let go after being accused of supplying grenades to the Mexican drug cartels, appears to have contributed to the ousting of the Arizona U.S. Attorney and the acting head of the ATF, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Reporter Evan Perez reports that U.S. officials are investigating the missteps in the case that was being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona.

Acting ATF head Ken Melson and Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke abruptly resigned last month in wake of the controversy surrounding Operation Fast and Furious, which encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers or middlemen, all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels.

At the time of their resignations, the controversy surrounding Fast and Furious was  mentioned in the media as a key factor to their abrupt departures. The grenade case was not mentioned.

To read full story click here.