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Archive for September 8th, 2011

Our World Since 9/11: Mall of America Visitors Unknowingly End Up in Counterterrorism Reports

 Listen to NPR Radio Story

istock photo

 

By G.W. Schulz, Center for Investigative Reporting | Andrew Becker, Center for Investigative Reporting | Daniel Zwerdling, NPR

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – On May 1, 2008, at 4:59 p.m., Brad Kleinerman entered the spooky world of homeland security.

As he shopped for a children’s watch inside the sprawling Mall of America, two security guards approached and began questioning him. Although he was not accused of wrongdoing, the guards filed a confidential report about Kleinerman that was forwarded to local police.

The reason: Guards thought he might pose a threat because they believed he had been looking at them in a suspicious way.

Najam Qureshi, owner of a kiosk that sold items from his native Pakistan, also had his own experience with authorities after his father left a cell phone on a table in the food court.

The consequence: An FBI agent showed up at the family’s home, asking if they knew anyone who might want to hurt the United States.

Mall of America officials say their security unit stops and questions on average up to 1,200 people each year. The interviews at the mall are part of a counterterrorism initiative that acts as the private eyes and ears of law enforcement authorities but has often ensnared innocent people, according to an investigation by the Center for Investigative Reporting and NPR.

To read more click here.

 

DEA Spokesman David Ausiello Named Assist. Director for Communication at Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DEA Public Affairs Specialist David Ausiello is making a switch.

Ausiello has been named Assistant Director for Communication and Law Enforcement Coordination at the Executive Office for the U.S. Attorneys.

“Staying in the DOJ family…but moving up, over, and out,” Ausiello said in an email to members of the media on Thursday.

Obama Faces Historic Threats, Ex-Secret Service Agent Says

 

Donald Tucker/ from his website

 
By PAUL BEDARD and LAUREN FOX
U.S. News & World Report

Racism and the nation’s white hot political environment that has sparked bitter division in Washington and a political assassination attempt in Arizona have raised concerns about President Obama’s safety on the campaign trail, according to a former top U.S. marshal and retired Secret Service agent.

“I think there is going to be a violent incident in 2012. I cannot put my finger on when or where. I am more inclined to worry about the president, but the volatility is there,” said Donald Tucker. “I don’t think there is ever enough security when you go from city to city, place to place, shaking hands and kissing babies. Secret Service can only do so much,” he added in an interview.

Tucker spent 25 years in the Secret Service. After retiring in 1990, then President George H. W. Bush named him a U.S. Marshal in Arizona. Last year he published Two-Edged Sword, his biography about being one of the first black federal agents.

To read more click here.

 

Justice Department Scorns Puerto Rico Police Dept. — the Nation’s Second Largest

 
 By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department is coming down hard on the Puerto Rico Police Department — the nation’s second largest —  accusing it of  “profound” and “longstanding” civil rights violations and illegal practices, reports the New York Times.

The Puerto Rico Police Department is “using force, including deadly force, when no force or lesser force was called for,” says a 116-page Justice Department report to be made public on Thursday, according to the Times.

The report cited regular profiling and singling out of those of Dominican descent, and it noted a failure to “adequately police sex assault and domestic violence” cases, such as spousal abuse and abuse by fellow law enforcement officials, reports the Times.

Puerto Rico has seen increases in violent crimes, an occurance that has begun to spill into middle class neighborhoods recently, according to the Times, with 786 homicides this year–up by 117 from the same time last year.

To read more click here.

Read Statement on Report by Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez

Atty. Gen. Holder Insists Upper Levels of Justice Dept. Didn’t Know About Fast and Furious

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr./doj file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. is sticking to his guns, insisting “the upper levels of the Justice Department” were unaware of the flawed and controversial ATF gun program “Operation Fast and Furious.”

“The notion that somehow or other this reaches into the upper levels of the Justice Department is something that, at this point, I don’t think is supported by the facts,” Holder said at a press conference Wednesday, according to Politico. “We’ll certainly see, I think, at the end of [the Inspector General’s investigation] exactly who was involved, exactly who made the decisions.”

The controversial Fast and Furious operation encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers or middlemen, all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ia.) have been trying determine who in the Justice Department knew about the operation and gave the okay.

ATF lost track of some weapons that ended up surfacing at crime scenes.

Fox News reported that a spokesman for Issa said Holder’s comments were baseless “whining.”

“My hope would be that Congress will conduct an investigation that is factually based and not mired with politics,” Holder said regarding Issa’s investigation, according to Politico.

 

FBI Gets Involved in IHOP Shooting in Nevada

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has jumped into the investigation into the 32-year-old gunman who opened fire with an AK 47 in an IHOP in Carson City, Nevada Tuesday morning, killing four people and  himself.

The Tahoe Daily Tribune reports that more than a dozen FBI agents on Wednesday morning combed through the Mi Pueblo Meat Market in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., where gunman Eduardo Sencion, 32, worked as a cashier.

The paper reported that FBI agents removed several paper and plastic bags of property, as well as what appeared to be two computer towers.

The store was closed during the search, the paper reported. In fact, a sign on the door said the market would not open today.

 

Man Who Plotted Bronx Synagogue Bombings in FBI Sting Gets 25 Years

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The last of four men –Laguerre Payen — was sentenced Thursday in Manhattan Federal Court to 25 years in prison for his role in an FBI sting that involved plotting to bomb Bronx synagogues and shoot down U.S. military planes, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.

Specifically, authorities say he was involved in plots to bomb synagogues in the Riverdale section of the Bronx and use to use Stinger surface-to-air guided missiles to shoot down military planes at the New York Air National Guard Base at Stewart Airport in Newburgh, N.Y.

The case came as a result of the FBI putting up an informant in in 2008 assigned an informant to infiltrate a mosque in Newburgh, N.Y.

Lawyers for the defendants claimed the men were entrapped by the paid informant. In the end, the men planted fake bombs supplied by the FBI in 2009.

Payen was convicted along with his three co-defendants James Cromitie, David Williams, and Onta Williams in October 2010 after a two-month jury trial.

“Laguerre Payen was a willing participant in a plot to use bombs and missiles to target New York synagogues and U.S. military planes,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. “Although these weapons were fake, the defendant believed they were real, and today’s sentence underscores the gravity of these crimes.”