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Archive for December 7th, 2011

Blago’s Biggest Crime: He Thought He Was Smarter Than All of Us

Blagojevich/file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ok, so I wouldn’t have given ex-Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich 14 years in prison for his infinite arrogance and his corrupt ways. Ten or 12 would have sufficed.

That being said, I can’t say he didn’t deserve getting the toughest sentence of any crooked Illinois governor. He never stopped yapping and denying and lying. He went on Letterman and the View and the Daily Show and came up with more trash than a mobbed-up sanitation firm.

The worst part about it all is that he assumed we were all dumber than him.

It was obvious the sentencing Judge James Zagel wasn’t dumber than Blago. And it was easy to see from press reports from the two trials that the judge didn’t appreciate his shenanigans.

In Blago’s first trial, the prosecution screwed up. It made the case far too complicated for the jury. The jury came back with one conviction out of 24 counts. Blago and his attorneys had sense of enough not to put Blago on the stand.

But in the second trial, prosecutors convicted Blago on 17 of 20 counts. Blago took the stand — the arrogant guy that he is — hoping to dupe the jury. That didn’t work.

Blago turns 55 on Dec. 10. He’s set to report to prison in February. He’ll be gone a long long time.

I feel sorry for him. Even though he has a law degree and served in Congress and was governor, he wasn’t a very smart guy.

And the dumbest thing he did was assume he was a smart guy — smarter than all the rest of us.

Column: Blago’s Biggest Crime: He Assumed He Was Smarter Than All of Us

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ok, so I wouldn’t have given ex-Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich 14 years in prison for his infinite arrogance and his corrupt ways. Ten or 12 would have sufficed.

That being said, I can’t say he didn’t deserve getting the toughest sentence of any crooked Illinois governor. He never stopped yapping and denying and lying. He went on Letterman and the View and the Daily Show and came up with more trash than a mobbed-up sanitation firm.

The worst part about it all is that he assumed we were all dumber than him.

It was obvious the sentencing Judge James Zagel wasn’t dumber than Blago. And it was easy to see from press reports from the two trials that the judge didn’t appreciate his shenanigans.

In Blago’s first trial, the prosecution screwed up. It made the case far too complicated for the jury. The jury came back with one conviction out of 24 counts. Blago and his attorneys had sense of enough not to put Blago on the stand.

But in the second trial, prosecutors convicted Blago on 17 of 20 counts. Blago took the stand — the arrogant guy that he is — hoping to dupe the jury. That didn’t work.

Blago turns 55 on Dec. 10. He’s set to report to prison in February. He’ll be gone a long long time.

I feel sorry for him. Even though he has a law degree and served in Congress and was governor, he wasn’t a very smart guy.

And the dumbest thing he did was assume he was a smart guy — smarter than all the rest of us.

OUCH! Judge Hammers Blago With 14 Year Sentence

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com
A federal judge in Chicago on Wednesday socked Rod Blagojevich, the ever-chatty ex-Illinois Governor, with a 14-year prison term, just one year short of the minimum the prosecution had recommended, according to the Chicago Tribune. He is now scheduled to report to prison Feb. 16.
 

“The vast majority of facts in this case were not disputed,” Judge James Zagel said at sentencing, according to Chicago News Cooperative reporter Idalmy Carrera. “It’s very difficult to dispute what was on the recordings.”

The prosecution in court papers had asked the judge to sentence Blago to 15 to 20 years.

But during the sentencing hearing, which began on Tuesday, the  defense tried to play up the good things Blagojevich had done as governor, and his role as a responsible father. “Whatever good things you did for people as governor…I am more concerned with the occasions where you used your power only to do good for yourself,” Judge Zagel said to him before sentencing.

A crowd of 50 or so had gathered outside the courtroom this morning for the second day of sentencing as Blagojevich and his wife Patti entered the courtroom holding hands, tweeted Chicago Tribune reporter Annie Sweeney. Blagojevich appeared to be more open to the press, joking with some reporters.

Blagojevich listened, shaking his head as the prosecution described him as manipulative, calling his corruption “perverse and unbound.” The former governor then acknowledged and apologized profusely for his crimes–acts Zagel later said came too late, describing the pain of explaining his guilty verdict to his daughters.

It had been clear by the end of yesterday’s court session, the Chicago Tribune reported, that the sentence would be stiff and the defense had given up the idea of avoiding prison altogether.

“I have nobody to blame but myself,” Blagojevich said in his final statements, then asked Judge Zagel for mercy before the court went to recess and the sentence was read.

U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald issued a statement saying:

“Blagojevich betrayed the trust and faith that Illinois voters placed in him, feeding great public frustration, cynicism and disengagement among citizens. People have the right to expect that their elected leaders will honor the oath they swear to, and this sentence shows that the justice system will stand up to protect their expectations.”

Robert D. Grant, head of the Chicago FBI added: “The sentence handed down today represents a repayment of the debt that Blagojevich owes to the people of Illinois. While promising an open and honest administration, in reality, the former governor oversaw a comprehensive assault on the public’s trust.”

The sentence was by far the harshest any crooked Illinois governor had been given. And it topped by one year the 13-year sentence a fed judge in Alexandria, Va. had given ex-New Orleans Congressman William Jefferson was given in 2008 after being convicted on public corruption charges.  Jefferson remains free pending an appeal.

Ex-Mo. Sheriff Gets 18 Months, Snapped Pictures of Womens’ Breasts During Illegal Searches

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Former sheriff of Worth County, Mo. Neal Wayne “Bear” Groom was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months in prison followed by a year of supervised release for violating the civil rights of several women by getting them to expose parts of their body, according to a statement from the Justice Department.

Following an FBI probe,  Groom pleaded guilty on August 17 to coercing women into exposing body parts to him, in violation of Fourth Amendment protections from unreasonable search and seizure. Groom also admitted to taking photographs of the women’s exposed or partially covered breasts.

Groom often said he was looking for domestic violence injuries or drug injection marks to force women into revealing their flesh, though he admitted in the plea that he conducted the searches for no legitimate law enforcement purpose, according to the Justice Department.

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri Beth Phillips said in a statement:  “We will not tolerate law enforcement officers who take advantage of the individuals whom they are sworn to protect.   Such individuals shake the public’s confidence in law enforcement and thus harm not only the victims they target but also the community at large.”

Feds Warn Alabama Law Enforcement Over Immigration Law

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The Feds are pushing back on the state of Alabama.

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division warned 156 local law enforcement agencies they could lose their federal funding if they fail to comply with federal civil rights laws while enforcing the state’s harsh immigration laws, according to Talking Points Memo.

“As you undertake law enforcement activity under H.B. 56, it is critical that your enforcement of this law does not result in the unlawful stopping, questioning, searching, detaining, or arresting of persons in violation of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, or in the targeting of racial or ethnic minorities in a manner that violates the Fourteenth Amendment,” Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez wrote in a letter sent to reporters on Tuesday, according to Talking Points Memo.

Local law enforcement agencies are required to comply with certain federal non-discrimination requirements while receiving federal funding, Perez wrote; the feds are able end funding or bring a civil suit in federal court for noncompliance.

To read more click here.

Mexican Lawmakers Angry Over DEA’s Money Laundering

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Relations between U.S. and Mexico may suffer even more in wake of the latest disclosure of a  DEA money laundering sting.

The New York Times reported that DEA agents allowed and even facilitated the movement of drug money among criminals in the hopes that the paper trail would lead to top  bosses of the Mexican cartels. The operation has been used before internationally, but not in Mexico. While it drew criticism at home, the allegations have Mexican lawmakers furious and asking for an investigation, reports CNN.

Mexican Senator Felipe Gonzalez says his ruling PAN party will demand an investigation into the operation to see if the DEA allowed agents to launder money, possibly on Mexican soil, as part of their investigation.

“This is not increasing the trust among countries to work together against crime,” Gonzalez said, according to CNN. “Furthermore, you can’t fight crime by committing criminal acts and violating the law.”

At home, Rep. Darrel Issa has made similar claims, broadening an ongoing investigation beyond ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious. It will now include the allegations about the DEA.

To read more click here.

Kashmir Lobbyist on Pakistan Payroll Expected to Plead Guilty

istock photo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

A former capitol hill lobbyist for disputed Kashmir territory between India and Pakistan is expected to plead guilty to federal charged on Wednesday, reports the Washington Post.

Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, executive director of the Kashmiri American Council at the time of his July arrest, is accused of secretly receiving millions of dollars from Pakistan’s spy service while lobbying on the hill. His hearing is scheduled for Wednesday at a US District Court in Alexandria. U.S. officials over the past many months has accused the spy service of helping the Taliban and even hiding Osama bin Laden.

An FBI affidavit claims Pakistani intelligence paid Fai $500,000 to $700,000, but he never disclosed that while serving as a supposed independent lobbyist. He has been charged with conspiracy to act as an unregistered foreign agent.

To read more click here.

Column: FBI Agent Critical of Ex-Official Defending the Agency

FBI agent Theresa Foley was the first full-time female FBI agent to be stationed at Guantanamo. She has filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department, saying she was made to bunk with vermin that gave her a tropical disease. Theresa Foley has undergone multiple surgeries since contracting the disease and has been disabled and is living with her parents. She claims her disease was made worse when the FBI refused to let her stand and instead made her kneel in the traditional stance during firearms qualification.The lawsuit also says she was ostracized for refusing to join in a “spring break” atmosphere in which agents were encouraged to drink, date and frolic during off hours.Her lawsuit alleges sexual discrimination and harassment, employment discrimination based on disability and gender and retaliation. 

Theresa Foley/family photo

 
By Theresa Foley
For ticklethewire.com

My name is Theresa Foley and many months ago you printed a letter my Mother wrote regarding the extension of FBI Director Mueller and her thoughts as to what occurred to me on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

It was a sad letter for me to read and several weeks after that I underwent a difficult surgery, thus never wrote. In the past week Mr. Ross Parker commented on the Penn State scandal, mentioning FBI Special Agent Jane Turner and all she had been through.

Mr. Michael Mason responded to this, affronted that the FBI was likened to the Penn State situation due to the reference from Ms. Turner that “It takes enormous strength to put one’s moral integrity over your personal inclination to protect fellow colleagues who have committed malfeasance, or criminal activity…It simply boils down to the fact that those in power have a stronger desire to preserve the reputation of their institution, than taking the road of truth or justice. Entities like Penn State, the Catholic Church and the FBI all share something in common; they operate in an insular world where rules or laws that apply to everyone else, do not apply to them.”

As my Mother noted, I was an FBI Agent assigned to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. I was assigned out of the Washington Field Office, when Mr. Mason was ADIC (Assistant Director in Charge).

Frankly, I was disappointed in his column, but not surprised in his defense of the FBI, praising Jane Turner at the end, but disagreeing with her statement. A jury agreed with Ms. Turner, yet to this day, no individuals have ever been held accountable for what occurred with her.

Due to legal issues, I will not comment on those in leadership at the WFO who could have stepped in and obtained some justice.

Their answer, in the few meetings reportedly held regarding what occurred with me, was to tell those who spoke up for me to “back off” and to transfer me. I found the chain of command to be broken, from Guantanamo to WFO, to FBIHQ, Boston and back.

I hope they are at peace exiting those meetings with their lack of truth seeking. One does not become a leader in the FBI speaking out about bad behavior, malfeasance and criminal conduct. Once you speak out, your career is over. Quite a few can attest to this, and the trial of Jane Turner is just a small indication of what goes on once you report “bad behavior”.

I arrived on Guantanamo in the fall of 2003 full of life and whole. I left almost ten months later, never to return, ill, broken and beat down. I arrived idealistically with the idea that it was the most important assignment in the FBI due to the war on terror.

Read more »