Get Our Newsletter



Links

Columnists



Site Search


Entire (RSS)
Comments (RSS)

Archive Calendar

January 2012
S M T W T F S
« Dec   Feb »
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  

Guides

How to Become a Bounty Hunter



Archive for January, 2012

Dem Staff Report Says Top Justice Officials Did Not Give Green Light for Fast and Furious

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A report issued late Monday night by the Democrats on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform tries to debunk suggestions by Republicans that high level appointees at the Justice Department conceived and directed the very flawed ATF Operation Fast and Furious. It places the blame for the operation squarely on the agents in Phoenix.

“This report debunks many unsubstantiated conspiracy theories,” Representative Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), the top ranking Democrat,  wrote in a cover letter for the detailed report. “Contrary to repeated claims by some, the committee has obtained no evidence that Operation Fast and Furious was a politically motivated operation conceived and directed by high-level Obama administration political appointees at the Department of Justice.”

“The documents obtained and interviews conducted by the Committee indicate that it was the latest in a series of reckless and fatally flawed operations run by ATF’s Phoenix Field Division during both the previous and current administrations,” Cummings wrote.

The report counters repeated claims by Republicans like Committee Chair Darrell Issa (R-Calif) that top ranking Justice Dept. officials gave the green light for  Fast and Furious.  Under the operation, ATF’s Phoenix office encouraged gun dealers to sell to “straw purchasers”, all with the hopes of tracing the guns to the Mexican cartels.  Some of the weapons surfaced at crime scenes including at the murder scene in Arizona of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.  Many Republicans have called for Atty. Gen. Eric Holder and Lanny Breuer, head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, to resign.

The report is expected to be met with skepticism by many Republicans and critics of ATF, which has come under intense scrutiny, and has undergone a major shakeup in management. Holder is scheduled to appear before Issa’s and Cumming’s committee on Thursday where he’s likely to get a grilling from the Republicans.

Cummings, who has sometimes been at odds with Issa over Fast and Furious, said in a press release  that the minority staff report was the result “of the Committee’s year-long investigation into the actions and circumstances that led to multiple gunwalking operations in Arizona from 2006 to 2010.”

The report concludes that the ATF Phoenix office failed to use sufficient controls to stop weapons from getting into the hands of violent criminals.

“Although this report provides a great amount of detail about what we have learned to date, it has several shortcomings,” Cummings wrote in his letter. “Despite requests from me and others, the Committee never held a hearing or even conducted an interview with former Attorney General Michael Mukasey. The Committee obtained documents indicating that in 2007 he was personally informed about the failure of previous law enforcement operations involving the illegal smuggling of weapons into Mexico, and that he received a proposal to expand these operations. Since the Committee failed to speak with Mr. Mukasey, we do not have the benefit of his input about why these operations were allowed to continue after he was given this information.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings/govt. photo

“The Committee also rejected my request to hold a public hearing with Kenneth Melson, the former Acting Director of ATF, the agency primarily responsible for these operations. Although Committee staff conducted an interview with Mr. Melson, the public has not had an opportunity to hear his explanations for why these operations continued for so many years without adequate oversight from ATF headquarters.”

The report states that in 2006, ATF agents in Phoenix initiated Operation Wide Receiver with the cooperation of a local gun dealer.

“For months, ATF agents watched in realtime as traffickers purchased guns and drove them across the border into Mexico,” the report states.

The report also states “that ATF’s former Acting Director, Kenneth Melson, and ATF’s Deputy Director, William Hoover, told Committee staff that gunwalking violated agency doctrine,that they did not approve it, and that they were not aware that ATF agents in Phoenix were using the tactic in Operation Fast and Furious. They also stated that, because they did not know about the use of gunwalking in Operation Fast and Furious, they never raised it up the chain of command to senior Justice Department officials.”

The report further stated: “Former Phoenix U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke told Committee staff that although he received multiple briefings on Operation Fast and Furious, he did not approve gunwalking, was not aware it was being used, and did not inform officials in Washington about its use.”

“He told Committee staff that, at the time he approved the proposal for a broader strategy targeting cartel leaders instead of straw purchasers, he had been informed that there was no probable cause to make any arrests and that he had been under the impression that ATF agents were working closely with Mexican officials to interdict weapons.”

The report goes on to state: “Gary Grindler, the former Acting Deputy Attorney General, and Lanny Breuer, the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, both stated that neither ATF nor the U.S. Attorney’s Office ever brought to their attention concerns about gunwalking in Operation Fast and Furious, and that, if they had been told, they ‘would have stopped it.’”

“When allegations of gunwalking three years earlier in Operation Wide Receiver were brought to the attention of Mr. Breuer in 2010, he immediately directed his deputy to share their concerns directly with ATF’s leadership. He testified, however, that he regretted not raising these concerns directly with the Attorney General or Deputy Attorney General, stating, “if I had known then what I know now, I, of course, would have told the Deputy and the Attorney General.”

“The Committee has obtained no evidence indicating that the Attorney General authorized gunwalking or that he was aware of such allegations before they became public. None of the 22 witnesses interviewed by the Committee claims to have spoken with the Attorney General about the specific tactics employed in Operation Fast and Furious prior to the public controversy.”

More than 7 Months Later, FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List Still 2 Short

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It’s been more than seven months since the FBI’s two most notorious Ten Most Wanted criminals — Osama bin Laden and Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger — were eliminated as fugitives. One was killed. The other was captured.

Whitey Bulger

Still, to date, the FBI has yet to replace them. So for all practical purposes, its a Top 8 list for now. Their photos remain on the FBI page. Bulger’s photo has word “Captured” draped across the bottom. Bin Laden’s photo has the word “Deceased” on it.

Paul Bresson, an FBI spokesman at headquarters, said Tuesday that “replacements are still under consideration.” Stay tuned.

 

Former Secret Service Agent Acquitted on Bribery Charges

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Former Secret Service agent R. Patrick Caldwell was acquitted on Monday of bribery charges involving his body armor company and foreign officials, Reuters reports. Caldwell was accused of trying to bribe a foreign official during a sting where FBI agents posed as representatives of African leaders seeking to by arms.

Reuters wrote that acquittal was the Obama administration’s “latest blow” in a “sprawling case aimed at rooting out purported corruption in the arms industry.”

After 27 years with the US Secret Service, Caldwell served as chief executive officer of Protective Products of America Inc. While with the Secret Service, Caldwell was in charge of the division for the vice president’s protection, according to Reuters.

To read more click here.

FBI: Lions Fan Threatened to Blow Up Building After Team Fell Behind

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

It’s never been easy to be a Detroit Lions fan.

This fact was on hand at the Lions Jan. 7 playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints, where a fan threatened to blow up the team’s home stadium, the Superdome, reports the Detroit News.

Shawn Payton, of Jackson, Mich, bomb threats in after the Lions fell behind in the game, says an FBI agent’s affidavit. He made two calls all together.

“Hi, I want you to relay a message to the sideline, if your stupid Southern team keeps winning, there will be reper… severe consequences, OK?” Payton, 34, told a Superdome employee, court records detail.

In a phone interview on Monday, Payton showed regret for his actions and concern over losing his job as a cook at a McDonald’s. “I feel bad for making some stupid phone calls,” he said.

To read more click here.

Calif. Man Gets 6 Years in Attempted Murder-for-Hire Plot

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

A six-year sentence was handed down to  Santa Barbara County, Calif., resident Eugene Darryl Temkin, 51, who solicited an FBI informant posing as a “hitman” to murder several individuals, the FBI announced on Monday.

A judge found Temkin guilty of soliciting a crime in violence, attempting to interfere with interstate commerce by threats and violence, and using interstate commerce facilities in the commission of a murder-for-hire after a bench trial in August, according to the FBI. The marks for the hitmen included Temkin’s wife, a former business partner of his and a Bel-Air man.

“The evidence showed that defendant engaged in criminal conduct of the worst sort: With meticulous planning and full contemplation, defendant agreed to pay a hitman, ‘Pavel’ [who was actually an undercover law enforcement officer], to brutally kill in cold blood three people, two of whom he barely knew,” prosecutors said in court documents. “What is more, these killings were only to take place after ‘Pavel’ first tortured the victims in order to force them to pay $15 million into defendant’s off-shore bank account.”

A source told law enforcement officials about Temkin’s plans to hire a hitman in late 2009 to kill his former business partner, which began the investigation. Over several months agents posing as professional killers met with Temkin, discussing plans and deals. Temkin told the “hitmen” the former business partner should pay him $15 million in compensation for losses he believes he sustained in a failed business plan to open a casino in Africa.

Temkin even discussed with the undercover agents particular forms of torture, murder and rape which would be likely to get the victims to pay the fees. Temkin had been threatening and harassing the victims for almost a decade before meeting with potential hitmen.

Arkansas Men Sentenced in Cross Burning Case

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

A group of three southerners had the idea to construct a large wooden cross, bring it to the yard of a local African-America resident of Arkansas, and light the cross on fire before driving away; now the three have been sentenced to 18 months in prison, the FBI announced in a statement on Friday.

Bradley Branscum, 23, and Curtis Coffee, 19, of Batesville, Ark., were sentenced for charges relating to the Aug. 28, 2010 crossburning incident. Tony Branscum, 26 and first cousin to Bradley, was sentenced on Jan. 20.

The African America resident was not injured, according to the FBI, and there was no damage to his home. Still, the defendants had pleaded guilty to interfering with the housing rights of another, says the FBI.

“The defendants acted to instill fear because of the victim’s race,” Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, said. “The Department of Justice remains committed to protecting our communities from such violence and will continue to aggressively prosecute these acts.”

Japanese Auto Suppliers to Plead Guilty to Price Fixing in US

fbi photo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Two Japanese suppliers of electrical auto components have agreed to plead guilty and to pay out $548 million in criminal fines in a price-fixing and bid-rigging scheme, the FBI announced on their blog this week. Four executives of auto parts sales companies, all Japanese nationals, also agreed to plead guilty, according to the FBI.

One of the companies took part in several conspiracies to fix prices on automobile parts sold in the US, with the other took part in a conspiracy to rig bids and fix prices of essential electrical parts.

“This criminal activity has a significant impact on automotive manufacturers in the U.S., Canada, Japan, and Europe and had been occurring for at least a decade,” said FBI Detroit Special Agent in Charge Andrew Arena.

To read more click here.

Justice Dept. Takes on Itself in Anthrax Attacks

Anthrax Suspect Bruce Ivins

By Jerry Markon
The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — Since it began a decade ago, the federal government’s massive investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks has been plagued by missteps and complications.

Investigators initially focused on the wrong man, then had to pay him a nearly $6 million settlement. In 2008, they accused another man, Bruce E. Ivins, who killed himself before he could go to trial. Now, in the latest twist, the government has argued against itself.

In documents deep in the files of a recently settled Florida lawsuit, Justice Department civil attorneys contradicted their own department’s conclusion that Ivins was unquestionably the anthrax killer. The lawyers said the type of anthrax in Ivins’s lab was “radically different” from the deadly anthrax. They cited several witnesses who said Ivins was innocent, and they suggested that a private laboratory in Ohio could have been involved in the attacks.

To read the full story click here.