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Archive for November 10th, 2011

A Secretive Nixon Said the Wealthy Better Equipped for Ambassadorships

white house photo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Assuredly the  Occupy Wall Street folks would find President Nixon’s grand jury testimony of interest.

In newly released documents of President Richard Nixon’s 1974 grand jury testimony, the president admitted to giving precedence to wealthy campaign contributors when assigning foreign ambassador posts.

The president maintained that such assignations were not “commitments” made for contributions. Rather, the president reasoned that big contributors, who are generally wealthy, have justified their qualifications by the mere fact of their wealth.

“Certainly, no sale of ambassadorship should be made,” he told investigators, “but, on the other hand, the fact that an individual has proved himself on the American scene, has proved himself by legitimately building a great fortune, rather than being a disqualifier should be a factor that can be considered and should be considered in determining whether he should get a position.”

Much of the questioning surrounded whether or not an explicit agreement of a “commitment” had been made between among Nixon and his advisors, trading ambassadorships for campaign contributions.

Nixon later stated that he gave “top consideration to major financial contributors mainly for the reason that big contributors in many instances make better ambassadors, particularly where American economic interests are involved.” Still, at times it seems hard to draw the line of distinction.

Regarding another appointed ambassador, Nixon stated, “Pearl Mesta wasn’t sent to Luxembourg because she had big bosoms. Pearl Mesta went to Luxembourg because she made a good contribution.”

In Nixon’s opening statements to the grand jury he expressed the “vital necessity of confidentiality in presidential communications,” saying that information he may reveal to the grand jury, if circulated in the press and among the American public, could hurt American interests.

He cited reports then in newspapers of past presidents okaying assassinations, saying such disclosures, though probably untrue, were not in the public interest. “This is the reason why I have resisted in the courts … attempts to impinge upon the privileged status of such conversations,” he said. Only with absolute guarantee of no disclosure, Nixon told investigators in his opening remarks, “I will reveal for the first time information … which, if it is made public, will be terribly damaging to the United States.”

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The NRA Guns for Atty. Gen. Holder

By Allan Lengel
for Salon.com

While an apologetic Attorney Gen. Eric Holder Jr. went before a Senate committee this week to talk about a failed gun-walking program, the National Rifle Association was gearing up its campaign to get Holder fired.

In a new, slick 1 minute and 55 second television ad flush with with Fox News footage, the NRA expressed outrage over the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm’s gun-running operation known as Operation Fast and Furious. Under the supervision of ATF officials, the operation let guns get into the hands of criminals on both sides of the Mexican border. The NRA claimed Holder perjured himself before Congress and lied about what he knew about the operation and urged the White House to fire Holder. Holder has adamantly denied lying.

The NRA has honed in on Operation Fast and Furious in order to advance its agenda of undermining, not just Holder but the president. The misguided operation, run by ATF officials reporting to the Justice Department, encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell weapons to “straw purchasers,” with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels. ATF lost track of many of the guns, and some surfaced at crime scenes on both sides of the Mexican border including one involving the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry last year in Arizona.

To read full story click here.

 

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Better Late Than Never: Nixon Library to Release Nixon’s Grand Jury Testimony on Watergate

 By Allan Lengel
ticklthewire.com

Better late than never.

The Nixon Presidential Library in California on Thursday is making available Nixon’s grand jury testimony about the Watergate scandal, the Associated Press reports.

This should be interesting.

The public release of the material comes four months after a judge ordered the June 1975 records unsealed.

“This is Nixon unplugged,” said historian Stanley Kutler, a principal figure in the lawsuit that pried open the records, AP reported.

Still, he said, “I have no illusions. Richard Nixon knew how to dodge questions with the best of them. I am sure that he danced, skipped, around a number of things.”

AP reported that Nixon was interviewed near his California home for 11 hours over two days.

To read more click here.

 

Doing the Right Thing in the Penn State Scandal

As head of the FBI’s Ann Arbor office, Greg Stejskal got to know well the legendary University of Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler. Stejskal, who has retired from the FBI, gives his insights into the Penn State scandal and discusses how he thought Schembechler, who died in 2006, might have handled it.

The author (right) Greg Stejskal and Michigan coach Bo Schembechler

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

“Do the Right Thing –Always,” Bo Schembechler

I want to preface this by saying, I was an admirer of Joe Paterno and Penn State football, which in my adult life have been synonymous. I don’t know Joe Paterno, but I know that he has been head coach at Penn State for 46 years and has been extremely successful, winning 409 games and two national championships.

Paterno achieved this seemingly without compromising sound values. His players were encouraged to be student-athletes with equal emphasis on the student part.

The football program’s slogan was “success with honor.” All of that including Paterno’s legacy is in jeopardy.

There was a seamy underside to all that success, Jerry Sandusky. Sandusky played for Paterno then became a coach. Ultimately, he was Penn State’s defensive coordinator (the face of Linebacker U). He was characterized as Paterno’s heir apparent. But if numerous allegations are to believed, Sandusky was, at least, as far back as the mid 90s, a child molester – using his position and its status to sexually abuse young boys.

Sandusky’s alleged transgressions go beyond despicable, but the issue for Paterno is what did he know, when did he know it and what did he do about it. According to the report of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury, that was investigating the allegations against Sandusky, in 1998 the Penn State police conducted an investigation regarding allegations that Sandusky was in involved in the molesting of young boys.

The case was presented to the local prosecuting attorney, but no charges were brought as a result of that investigation. (It is difficult to believe a case could be presented to the prosecutor without Paterno being aware of the investigation.)

Coincident with the conclusion of that investigation, Sandusky was informed by Paterno that he would not be Paterno’s successor as head coach. Following the 1999 football season, at the age of 55, Sandusky retired from the Penn State coaching staff.

I don’t know what caused Sandusky’s precipitous fall from grace, but the timing, at best, seems curious.

Although Sandusky was no longer on the Penn State coaching staff, he was still a member of the PSU faculty. He remained an Assistant Professor of Physical Education Emeritus with full access to Athletic Department facilities and other perks.

According to the Grand Jury report, March 1, 2002, Mike McQueary, a PSU football graduate assistant (now the wide-receiver coach) saw Sandusky sodomizing a young boy in the shower area of the football building. McQueary knew Sandusky andwas shocked and unsettled, but on the following day he reported what he had seen to Paterno. Paterno then told the Penn State Athletic Director, Tim Curley, of McQueary’s eyewitness account. Later McQueary would be interviewed by Curley and Penn State Senior Vice-President, Gary Schultz. It is not clear what further actions were taken as to Sandusky, but it is clear this incident was never reported to the police or child welfare authorities. Nor apparently was any action taken to identify the young boy or ascertain his welfare.

Sandusky retained his Assistant Professorship (He was listed in the faculty directory as recently as last week.) and his access to University facilities. According to the Grand Jury report, Sandusky’s abuse of young boys continued after 2002.

So did Paterno fulfill his responsibility as head football coach and as Sandusky’s former boss?

I don’t think it can be overstated the prestige and sheer clout that Paterno has at Penn State, but for whatever reason, he apparently never used any of that to further pursue the Sandusky matter or to inquire about the welfare of the alleged victims.

In comparison, I pose the hypothetical question: What would Bo Schembechler have done?

Bo is a man I did know. Bo was a legendary football coach at Michigan from 1969-1989 and a peer of Paterno.

To the best of my knowledge, Bo never had to deal with any of his staff being alleged child molesters.

He did have situations that required staff and players having to take responsibility for their acts even if it might reflect badly on Michigan, a place he loved and revered.

In 1987, the FBI was investigating two sports agents, Norby Walters and Lloyd Bloom, who had ties to organized crime. Walters and Bloom had worked up a scam where they bribed blue-chip college football players to sign post-dated, secret, agency contracts while they were still eligible to play college football – a clear violation of NCAA rules. Ultimately some of the players balked, threats were made by Walters and Bloom, and the whole thing fell apart.

Players who had signed the contracts were identified. They were all star players on prominent college teams. Two of the players were on Bo’s 1986 Michigan team.

When Bo found out, he was livid. He called one of the players, Garland Rivers, an All-American DB, into the office and had Rivers tell him the whole story.

Then Bo called me.

When I got to Bo’s office, Bo told Rivers “Tell this FBI agent everything about your relationship with Norby Walters.” Bo could have distanced himself and Michigan from the investigation.

Michigan would have been just one of many major football programs victimized by Walters and Bloom. But that wasn’t Bo. Damage control doesn’t mean hiding from the truth. It means taking responsibility for your actions and trying to rectify the mistakes.

Walters and Bloom had enticed his players to break the rules. They had besmirched Michigan. Bo knew he had to take a stand and do what he could to protect future players from illicit agents.

Later, when Walters and Bloom went on trial in Federal Court for racketeering and fraud, Bo testified. He was the star witness. His testimony was so strong, the defense declined to cross exam him. Walters and Bloom were convicted. What had been a dark moment in Michigan football history was a comeback win as important as any that had occurred on the field.

So what would Bo have done if faced with an assistant coach who was allegedly molesting young boys.

We’ll never know for sure, but I’m certain that he wouldn’t have just reported the allegations to his boss and done nothing else. Bo would have made sure the police were aware of the allegations. And that assistant coach would not have had access to Michigan athletic facilities or be emeritus anything.

It has been said that Paterno fulfilled his legal responsibility by reporting the allegations to the Penn State AD.

However, it would seem he did not fulfill his moral responsibility by making sure the allegations were pursued and, thus, protecting potential future victims.

We may never know why Paterno failed to pursue the Sandusky matter further. Perhaps Paterno didn’t do more out of a misguided effort to protect the reputation of Penn State, but if that was the motive, far more damage has been done to Penn State’s reputation than would have been done had this matter been fully confronted in 1998 or 2002.

Bo did not see degrees of honor and integrity. You either did the right thing or you didn’t – half way was unacceptable.

 

“Geezer Bandit” Chalks Up #15 in Calif.

"Geezer Bandit"/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

That rascally bandit known as the “Geezer Bandit” continues his elusive ways.

On Wednesday, the FBI issued a statement that the bandit, who appears to be in his 70s, had hit his 15th bank in the San Diego area on Sept. 30, the Associated Press reported.

The robbery occured  at a Wells Fargo bank inside a Vons grocery store in La Jolla, Calif., AP reported.

AP reported that the bandit approached the teller counter, pointed a revolver pistol at the teller and demanded money.

The Geezer Bandit began is robbing ways in 2009.

A $20,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the robber’s arrest and conviction.

Some have speculated that the Geezer Bandit may actually be wearing a very-well crafted Hollywood quality mask to make it look as if he’s a senior citizen.

 

Late Agent’s Family: Holder Must “Take Responsibility”

Brian Terry

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

In more sobering news…

The family of Brian Terry, the border agent killed  last year near the Arizona border, issued a statement on Wednesday in response to US Attorney General Eric Holder’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The message: Holder needs to “take responsibility” for their son’s death, reports Arizona affiliate of ABC.

Holder was testifying about ATF’s failed Operation Fast and Furious, which encouraged gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers, all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels. ATF lost track of plenty of those weapons, some which surfaced at crime scenes including the one where Terry was killed.

Authorities have been unable to determine whether the two weapons found at the scene were actually involved in the shooting.

Holder stopped short of actually apologizing during his testimony before the committee on Tuesday.

“I certainly regret what happened to agent Terry,” he said when Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn asked if Holder would like to apologize for Fast and Furious.

“I am a father of three children myself,” Holder said. “We are not programmed to bury our kids.  It pains me whenever there is the death of a law enforcement officials, especially under the circumstances that this occurred.  It is not fair, however, to assume that the mistake that happened in Fast and Furious directly led to the death of Agent Terry,” he testified.

To read more click here.

Guatemalan Drug Enforcement Improves; DEA Standing in the Shadows

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Elio Lorenzana, on who’s head the U.S. government placed a $200,000 reward, was peacefully detained after a DEA-supported operation.

The lede of the story, on the website InSight (tagline: “Organized crime in the Americas”), reads: “Guatemala has now captured more top-level drug traffickers in the past two years than in the previous decade, no doubt thanks to pressure from the US.”

Elio Lorenzana was the youngest son of what the report called one of Guatemala’s most influential families–involed in both legitimate and illegitimate businesses, including narcotics running and drug trafficking.

The quiet arrest stands in contrast to five previous attempts, reports InSight; Guatemalan forces began pressuring the Lorenzana clan only after a US court indicted the family for drug trafficking in March of 2009.

The operation was part of a newly implemented strategy, wherein Guatemalan forces use less visible partnerships with the DEA, though the agency still plays a key advisory role.

To read more click here.

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