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Archive for November 8th, 2011

It’s Almost Blago Time Again; Sentencing Set for Dec. 6

Ex-Gov on NBC's Celebrity Apprentice

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It’s almost Blago time again.

The Chicago Tribune reports that U.S. District Judge James Zagel of Chicago set sentencing for the ever-chatty, ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Dec. 6.

Blago almost skated in his first public corruption trial when the jury convicted on only 1 of 24 counts. It deadlocked on the remainder.

But the second time around, in a retrial, the prosecution tightened up and simplified its case. The jury convicted Blago on 17 or 20 public corruption counts.

The Tribune reported that Blago’s attorney said his client intends to speak at the sentencing hearing.

co-defendant, William Cellini, a Springfield power broker who was convicted last wee

No Fireworks but Some Contentiousness as Atty. Gen. Holder Defends Himself in Senate Hearing

Holder on Tuesday before the Judiciary/ttw

 By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

There were some moments of contentiousness,  but it was still far short of the big fireworks that were expected when Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. appeared before the Senate Judiciary at the Dirksen Office Building on the Hill to talk about ATF’s controversial Operation Fast and Furious — a program that encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to straw purchaser, with hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels.

In other words, Holder took a few jab here and there, but didn’t walk away bloodied.

Republicans — particularly Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ia.) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) were expected to grill Holder. Grassley did somewhat, and Cronyn did far more, pressing Holder on when he knew about the operation. But fireworks? Not really.

Democrats, seemed more sympathetic to Holder, and those like Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) appeared to give Holder a little cover, raising the point that the gun-walking had occurred under the Bush administration as well under “Operation Wide Receiver”,  and they needed to look into that as well.  Schumer suggested the probe lead by Republicans had been a little one sided.

Holder made statements insisting that he never mislead Congress as to what and when he knew about Fast and Furious. And he went on to remark:

“I want to be very clear: any instance of so-called “gun walking” is simply unacceptable,” Holder said in a statement. “Regrettably, this tactic was used as part of Fast and Furious, which was launched to combat gun trafficking and violence on our Southwest Border. This operation was flawed in its concept, and flawed in its execution. And, unfortunately, we will feel the effects for years to come as guns that were lost during this operation continue to show up at crimes scenes both here and in Mexico.

“This should never have happened. And it must never happen again.”

Sen. Cornyn came armed with graphics/ttw

Cornyn, aided by big bold graphics, pressed Holder, pointing out that internal Justice Department memos about gun walking were addressed to Holder. But Holder insisted, as he has before, that he didn’t see those memos and that staff read them and made a determination whether to brief him.

Cornyn also asked if Holder had ever apologozied to the family of Border Agent Brian Terry, who was killed last year near the Arizona border. Two guns from Operation Fast and Furious were found at the scene, but it was never determined whether the weapons were used in the murder.

“I have not apologized to them,” said Holder.  “I certainly regret what happened to Agent Terry. I can only imagine the pain that his family has had to deal with….We are not programmed to bury our kids. It pains me whenever there is the death of a law enforcement official, especially under the circumstances. It is not fair, however, to assume that the mistakes that happened in Fast and Furious directly led to the death of Agent Terry.”

Cornyn also pressed Holder, asking him to name one person who  has paid for the mistakes of Operation Fast and Furious. Holder said that the head of ATF had been replaced and the U.S. Attorney in Arizona had stepped down and others would pay if a pending Inspector General investigation shows they should.

In his opening statement Tuesday, Sen. Grassley took aim at Holder, saying: “Just over nine months ago Attorney General Holder sat in my office. After discussing a number of items with him, I handed him two letters I had written to the Acting Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), Kenneth Melson.[1] A member of my staff briefly outlined the allegations contained therein that had come to us from an ATF whistleblower.”

“My letters mentioned: (1) the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, (2) the allegation that ATF had sanctioned the sale of hundreds of assault weapons to straw buyers, (3) the allegation that two of those weapons had been found at the scene of Agent Terry’s death, and (4) the allegation that the whistleblowers who provided this information were already facing retaliation.”

“Just four days later, I received a response back from the Justice Department.[3] That response explicitly stated that the whistleblower allegations were “false” and that “ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation to Mexico.”

In response, Holder apologized for the letter, saying at the time,  the  people who wrote it believed those were the facts. He acknowledged it was wrong and there was an effort to find out where along the chain someone provided erroneous information.

Holder later went on to say that the finger pointing and probing  ” in some ways is a bit of a distraction that does nothing to what concerns us most and that is the flow of weapons from the United States across the southwest border.”

He also said of Fast and Furious: “I think I acted in a responsible way.”

 

Ex-Secret Service Agent Pleads to Posing as Fed Agent

 By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

In most cases, most people who impersonate a federal agent were never a federal agent. Not even close.

Then there’s  Sandra Elder.

Elder, a former Secret Service, agent pleaded guilty last week in Flordia to impersonating a federal law enforcement officer, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Sentencing is set for Feb. 10 in West Palm Beach.

She faces up to three years in prison.

Authorities said that Edler had not been an agents since 2001.

Authorities aid Elder served as an adjunct professor at a local university in Broward County and fraudulently told students, faculty and high-level administrators at the university that she was an active Special Agent of the United States Secret Service who was close to retiring after many years of service as a federal agent.

She also submitted fraudulent documentation to the university claiming she was serving as a current Supervisory Special Agent of the United States Secret Service.

 

NRA Runs Ad Calling for President to Fire Atty. Gen. Eric Holder

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

More than 30 Republican Congress members have called for the firing of Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. and now the NRA is running an advertising asking for the same.

The NRA, which has historically been at odds with ATF, says in its ad that Holder lied about what he knew about ATF’s Fast and Furious, a program that encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to “straw purchasers”, all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels.

The ad claims to memos written to Holder informing him about Fast and Furious prove that he knew about the operation way before he had admitted to Congress that he knew about it.

Holder has said that staff members read those memos and were supposed to — but did not —  update him if necessary on info he needed to know. He has denied misleading Congress.

On it’s website accompanying its 1:55 minute video advertising, the NRA states:

“Watch the video and see how Eric Holder’s lies are destroying freedom and costing lives. Please make a donation to help NRA-ILA air this video across America. And please, forward this video to family and friends!”

The ad urges people to call President Obama and demand that he  fire Holder.

Holder is scheduled to appear Tuesday morning before the Senate Judiciary, where he’s expected to get grilled by Republicans over what he knew about Fast and Furious.

Watch Video

 

Off-Duty Fed Agent Accused of Murder in Hawaii

 
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A 27-year-old federal special agent is in big trouble.

Christopher Deedy, 27, an off-duty special agent with the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, is accused of murdering a 23-year-old man in Honolulu on Saturday about 2:45 a.m. at a McDonald’s restaurant, the Honolulu Star Advertiser reported.

Christopher Deedy, 27, an off-duty special agent with the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security is accused of killing 23-year-old Kollin Elderts during a confrontation at the McDonald’s restaurant on Kuhio Avenue at about 2:44 a.m. Saturday, the paper reported.

Deedy, who was released on $250,000 bond, was helping with security for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, the paper reported. He is accused of second-degree murder.

To read more on this click here.