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Archive for October 12th, 2011

Atty. Gen. Holder Holds Up Underwear Bomber Case As a Positive Example of Prosecuting Terrorism in Civilian Courts

Eric Holder Jr./ticklethewire.com file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. took the opportunity  following the guilty plea Wednesday morning of  the “Underwear Bomber” to hold the case up as another example of the success the Justice Department has had prosecuting terrorism cases in civilian courts.

“Contrary to what some have claimed, today’s plea removes any doubt that our courts are one of the most effective tools we have to fight terrorism and keep the American people safe,” Holder said in a statement. “Our priority in this case was to ensure that we arrested a man who tried to do us harm, that we collected actionable intelligence from him and that we prosecuted him in a way that was consistent with the rule of law.”

“We will continue to be aggressive in our fight against terrorism and those who target us, and we will let results, not rhetoric, guide our actions.”

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab pleaded guilty to all eight counts on Wednesday in the second day of his terrorism trial in downtown Detroit. He was accused of trying to blow up a Northwest flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009.

The statement comes in wake of sharp criticism from Republicans in the past couple years over the Justice Department’s push to prosecute many of the terrorism cases in the civilian courts.

Some Republicans have argued that the cases should be prosecuted in a military court. They’ve also been critical of the FBI reading Miranda warnings to terrorist suspects.

FBI agents read the underwear bomber his rights after questioning him for a while.

 

Florida Man Arrested in Celebrity Hacking Case

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Though he may be a hero to some the world over, a Florida resident was arrested Wednesday for hacking the computers and releasing information from Hollywood celebrities, including the infamous nude photos of actress Scarlett Johansson.

The FBI said Wednesday that it had arrested Christopher Chaney, 35, of Jacksonville, Fla. without incident in the morning on a host of cyber-related charges.

The investigation, dubbed Hackerazzi, began late in 2010, long before the Johansson shots made news.

“While the case against Mr. Chaney involves celebrities who were targeted because of their fame, this case reminds us that we are all potential victims of computer hackers,” said LA U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr. in a statement.

The indictment alleges that Chaney accessed the computers, e-mail accounts and account settings of several victims, beginning November 13, 2010, through February 10, 2011.

The indictment further alleges Chaney also used the identities of some of the victims to illegally access and control computers, and in other instances, “intercepted and endeavored to intercept wire communications; specifically, e-mails and attachments.”

In most cases, Chaney accessed the administrative settings on the victims’ accounts so that all of their e-mails would automatically be forwarded to a separate e-mail account Chaney controlled, authorities said. This form of wiretapping, authorities said, allowed Chaney to continually receive victims’ e-mails even after a password had been reset.

Investigators determined that Chaney distributed some of the files he obtained illegally, including photos of celebrities, and offered them to various celebrity blog sites. Some of the illegally obtained files, including private photographs, were ultimately posted online.

“As we highlight cyber awareness during the month of October, it’s important to remember that, although these victims appear to have been targeted based on their celebrity, similar methods may be used to illegally access any one of our computers,” said Steven Martinez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “Strict computer security should be practiced when using smart phones, laptops, desktops, iPads, or any other device that provides Internet access.”

Rep. Issa Issues Subpoena for Atty. Gen. Holder in Fast and Furious

file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethwire.com

The battle inside the Beltway over ATF’s Fast and Furious operation continued Wednesday.

Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, announced Wednesday that he has sent a subpoena to Attorney General Eric Holder as part of his investigation into the program, Fox News reported.

“Top Justice Department officials, including Attorney General Holder, know more about Operation Fast and Furious than they have publicly acknowledged,” Isssa said in a statement, according to Fox. “The documents this subpoena demands will provide answers to questions that Justice officials have tried to avoid since this investigation began eight months ago. It’s time we know the whole truth.”

Fox reported that the subpoena seeks communications regarding the operation from 16 top Justice officials, including Holder, his chief of staff, Gary Grindler, and the head of the department’s criminal division, Lanny Breuer, as well as correspondence on specific dates to and from the former head of the ATF’s Phoenix field division, William Newell.

 

Paper Defends Naming “Whitey” Bulger’s Tipster

Whitey Bulger/fbi

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The Boston Globe is standing by its decision to publicly name the tipster that led federal agents to nab fugitive gangster James “Whitey” Bulger in June in California.

Editors were confident that revealing the name of Anna Bjornsdottir, an Iceland native and Santa Monica, Calif. neighbor of Bulger’s, did not pose a threat to Anna, and that the public interest was better served by the disclosure, reports Boston.com.

“We were confident Whitey Bulger and Cathy Greig knew exactly who the tipster was,’’ The Globe’s deputy managing editor for local news Jennifer Peter told the site. “We asked people directly involved in the investigation if she would be in danger if we named her. No one told us she would be in danger at all.’’

The paper said that naming Bjornsdottir served the public by quelling speculations that the FBI had made the tipster up, and that the decision was run by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office, neither of which voiced complaints.

The FBI has had a “corrupt history” with Bulger, says Boston.com.

“There have been so many deceptions and lies in the past. In order to provide a definitive story, and tell the story as it actually happened, we had to name her,” said Peter, the local news editor. “If we didn’t, it wouldn’t be a credible retelling of how Bulger was arrested.’’

Bulger, a longtime FBI informant, fled before a 1995 federal racketeering indictment after being warned of looming charges by a corrupt former FBI handler. He is being held without bail on charges of killing 19 people.

To read more click here.

Breaking: It’s Over! Underwear Bomber Pulls Surprise and Pleads Guilty


Suspect Abdulmutallab/u.s. marshals photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — The man dubbed the “underwear bomber” unleashed a surprise on Wednesday in the second day of his terrorism trial in federal court in  downtown Detroit when he decided to hang it all up and plead guilty to all eight charges.

The Detroit News reported that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 24, pleaded guilty to charges related to his attempt to blowing  up a Northwest plane bound from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009.

The bomb in his underwear never detonated properly.

His guilty plea is not likely to bring him any break.

The government had overwhelming evidence in the case and had declined to offer him any kind of break on prison time. Since no one died on the flight, he wasn’t going to face the death penalty.

The News reported that the plea came after a 45 minute recess in the trial before U.S. District Judge Nancy G. Edmunds.

The judge asked if he wanted to waive his right to a trial, to which he responded, according to the News:

“That’s right.”

READER COMMENTS

Comment from Alan Stamm | [e]
Time October 12, 2011 at 10:43 am

So he has at least a smidgen of sense after all, thankfully.

Next stop: federal Administrative Maximum Facility in Colorado.

Comment from Jim Burdick | [e]
Time October 12, 2011 at 1:58 pm

And along the way went on a nasty rant that he did it because of America’s support of Israel and America’s killing of “innocent Muslims” (were they school children on busses??). He was doing “God’s work,” he says, and now will have a lifetime to pray. (But, first, he snitched out a whole lot of people right after he was arrested. Who knows what happened since then!)

 

Note to Deputy U.S. Marshal: No You Can’t Get Free Govt. Gas

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com
 Deputy U.S. Marshal Peter F. Rouse figured being a public servant had its benefits. Problem was, it didn’t have all the benefits he apparently thought it should.
 
Rouse, 37,  of Reisterstown, Md., pleaded guilty  Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Md., to charges that he  used his government-issued fleet credit card, reserved for gas and maintenance on his government owned vehicle — 2004 Ford Crown Victoria sedan–to fill up his personal vehicle.  The government pegged at $4,000 and $8,300.

The Marshals Service received information in the summer of 2010 that Rouse had been using his fleet charge card for personal use. An audit found that Rouse’s charges were “significantly higher” than other U.S. Marshals, according to a press release, occurring “on weekends, holidays, after duty hours, on successive days, while on annual leave, and in quantities exceeding the capacity of the fuel tank in his GOV.”

Videotapes viewed by investigators showed Rouse filling his Ford F150 pickup truck at Maryland and Virginia locations with his fleet card on dates Rouse claimed sick leave and when he was off duty. They also used to GPS tracking devices to show that his government car  was not at the gas station at times the card was being used.

Rouse faces a maximum of 10 years in prison. Sentencing is set for  Jan. 4. Rouse  resigned as part of the plea agreement.

News Report Questions FBI Theory That Anthrax Suspect Tried to Deceive Investigators

A U.S. Army scientist stands near the letters used in the 2001 anthrax attacks (Photo courtesy of FBI and ProPublica)

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

An investigative report published by ProPublica points to some flaws in the FBI’s conclusion that Ft. Detrick, Md. scientist Bruce Ivins was the culprit who mailed the deadly anthrax in 2001.

The investigation, conducted by ProPublica, PBS and McClatchy Newspapers, attempts to undercut a key theory that Ivins tried to deceive the FBI. The report points to samples Ivins provided from a flask in 2002 to the FBI. The FBI said tests failed to match the anthrax sent through the mail.

Later, the news report said, the FBI  took its own samples from the flask and found matches to the deadly anthrax letters.

Authorities pointed to that as a key piece of evidence against Ivins, saying he was intentionally being deceptive to hide his guilt. Ivins committed suicide in July 2008, just before he was about to be charged.

Rachel Lieber, the lead prosecutor in a case that will never go to trial, thinks that Ivins manipulated his sample to cover his tracks, the news report said.

“If you send something that is supposed to be from the murder weapon, but you send something that doesn’t match, that’s the ultimate act of deception,” the lead prosecutor Rachel Lieber said in the report. “That’s why it’s so important.”

But the news agencies report that they “turned up new evidence that challenges the FBI’s narrative of Ivins as a man with a guilty conscience who was desperately trying to avoid being discovered.”

“Records recently released under the Freedom of Information Act show that Ivins made available a total of four sets of samples from 2002 to 2004, double the number the FBI has disclosed,” the news report said. “And in subsequent FBI tests, three of the four sets ultimately tested positive for the” anthrax.’

The report suggested that the positive samples turned over to the FBI was proof that Ivins was not trying to deceive the FBI.

Paul Kemp, Ivins’ lawyer, said the existence of Ivins’ additional submissions discredits a key aspect of the FBI case, the report said.

“I wish I’d known that at the time,’’ he said.

The Justice Department has repeatedly dismissed any reports challenging its conclusion that Ivins was the culprit. The agency has said that the conclusion was based on multiple factors.

Read full report.

 

FBI Finds More than Veal Cutlets at Brooklyn Butcher

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

FBI agents found more than a good cut of veal and pork chops at the Graham Ave. Meats and Deli in Brooklyn, N.Y. neighborhood of Williamsburg this summer. In their arrest of Michael “Mike The Butcher” Virtuoso on extortion charges this past July, agents found a rolodex of Virtuoso’s with the contact information for many of the city’s top crime bosses and mafioso.

Feds hope the rolodex can be used against Virtuoso in the charges, and are arguing not to offer the butcher a shot at bail due to his associations with organized crime. Virtuoso made no attempt to code the names of his contacts, reports the New York Post.

Agents also found a scrapbook of Vituoso’s containing newspaper reports of mob arrests and convictions. Virtuoso was convicted in 2009 of extortion, the Post reported.

To read more click here.

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