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Archive for January 4th, 2012

At FBI, Hope for Injured Soldiers Returning Home

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

It was an IED that did it for Povas Miknaitis.

After an initial deployment to Iraq in 2008, he was later sent to Afghanistan as a Marine rifleman. In Afghanistan, an IED blast sent shrapnel flying; some hit his arm and abdomen; larger pieces struck his face, shattering his jaw and blowing his right ear clean off of his head.

“Part of my mouth was missing,”  Miknaitis tells ticklethewire.com. “It just broke my jaw completely.”

It was in a hospital, recovering from the blast in 2009, that Miknaitis heard about an FBI training program for injured soldiers called Wounded Warriors. He began filling out paperwork and initiating the process of joining the bureau’s Wounded Warriors internship program. In 2011, when the program was launched, he landed a spot in a program that seems to be taking off.

So far, so good.

Of the 21 soldiers who have completed various internships, two have been hired full time; one as a clerk and another in IT. Another 43 are currently serving as interns, 78 are being processed and more are in line pending a funding evaluation, says FBI spokeswoman Amy Thoreson. Interns work in a variety of capacities, from logistics, intelligence, investigations to computer- and technology-focused jobs.

“Our goal is to give them working experience and the clearances they need,” to get back to work, says Thoreson. “We think this is a really wonderful program. It’s really helping people get their lives back.”

The San Diego field office, where Miknaitis interned, is among the few offices that are participating in the program. Others include the Washington Field Office, Sacramento, Charlotte and the FBI’s International Operations Division, Operational Technology Division, and Laboratory.

As expected, landing a spot with the FBI — even a temporary one — requires an intensive background check.

“This was not the same background check I went through for the military,” says Miknaitis. Agents called friends and family of his. “I had relatives calling me from Chicago asking if I was okay, saying the FBI had called asking questions about me,” he recollects.

Once Miknaitis was cleared, he began he began an internship researching cases for ongoing FBI investigations. “I was always interested in law enforcement,” he says, “and the internship program really let me learn a lot more about it. It got me employed while I was still recovering.”

Miknaitis still spends much of his time at a San Diego hospital. “It takes a while to go through the treatment, for the doctors to make sure they have done absolutely everything they can,” he says.

The program had its genesis in November of 2009, when president Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13518. That order focused on employing veterans in the federal government. The following July, president Obama signed Executive Order 13548, which focused on increasing the number of federal employee hires with disabilities.

As for Miknaitis, he’s grateful for the experience, but learned that the FBI might not be for him.

“I want to be able to go home and talk about my work,” he says, “not to have to say, ‘well, I really can’t talk about that honey, that’s classified information.”

After much physical therapy and plastic surgery, Miknaitis is doing well and poised to begin school in the fall, possibly for sports medicine, he says.

“I actually got pretty lucky,” he says. “If you saw my face and my body after the injury, you would not think I would have come out looking this good afterword.” He remains deaf in his right ear, but he and his doctors have spoken about cochlear implants in the future.

More than 47,000 soldiers have been injured in action in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

 

‘Underwear Bomber’ Not Entitled to New Lawyer, Govt. Says

Suspect Abdulmutallab/u.s. marshals photo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called “underwear bomber” who tried to ignite a bomb in his underwear on a Detroit-bound flight on Christmas Day in 2009, wants a new — preferably Muslim stand-by lawyer — for his upcoming sentencing on Jan. 19, the Detroit Free Press reports. Fed prosecutors are opposed.

“Because defendant represents himself, he has no right to standby counsel, let alone standby counsel of his choice,” federal prosecutors wrote in court documents filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit, according to the Free Press. They say he isn’t entitled to one, and granting his demand would delay the hearing which numerous passengers on the Detroit flight have planned to attend and speak at.

Abdulmutallab requested a new lawyer recently for his upcoming January 19 sentencing.

To read more click here.

 

 

FBI Investigates ‘Non-Hazardous’ Powder Sent to Florida Prosecutor’s Office

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The return of the Anthrax it was not.

Still, three people reported falling ill on Tuesday after being exposed to a “suspicious” powder in the mail room of the State Attorney’s Office in West Palm Beach office, a city spokesman told CNN. Now the FBI is investigating the incident.

The powder was not hazardous, according to initial reports, but the bureau will continue to investigate, Margaret Williams of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service told CNN. And even though the powder doesn’t seem to be hazardous, two of the three workers sent to the hospital complained of headache, nausea and vomiting, Scott said. Additionally, a firefighter responding to the incident was hospitalized for cardiac problems. Because he was equipped with an air tank, it is uncertain what specifically the causes of the cardiac problems were attributable to.

In the post 9-11 era, mail goes through detector systems at the post office to check for biological agents like anthrax.  No anthrax has been found in the mail since 2001 when five people died and 17 were sickened.

To read more click here.

Confusion Over ATF Gun Approvals for Manunfacturers

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The Washington Times reports that there’s some confusion between gun manufacturers and the ATF.

“ATF regulations for the manufacture of weapons are often unclear,” the paper reports, “leading to reliance on a secretive system” where proposed guns are submitted for approval one by one and “judgements are private and, it turns out, sometimes contradictory.”

The approval process is known as “letter rulings,” according to the Washington Times, and a major critic of the process is former assistant director of criminal investigations for the ATF Robert E. Sanders, who said that letter rulings are often “definitely contradictory and inconsistent,” though still necessary because regulations are ill-defined.

“It is hard to tell what ATF wants you to do without submitting your product and asking for a letter ruling,” he said. “You can’t tell what the agency has said in the past to others, because those letter rulings are generally secret. How could somebody know how to comply with the law?”

To read more click here.

Military Man with Carry-On Explosives Proclaims Ignorance

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Sgt. 1st Class Trey Scott Atwater, the military man who shut down a Texas airport over the weekend when he tried to carry on explosives to a flight, said he didn’t know the prohibited materials were in his bag, FayObserver reports.

Atwater had not used his carry-on bag since bringing it back from Afghanistan in April, a federal affidavit released on Tuesday say. Atwater took the bag from his garage to carry children’s items for a family trip to Texas, he said, according to the website.

Atwater waived a hearing scheduled for Tuesday and will remain in custody in Midland, Tex. , the US Attorney in Midland said. If convicted he faces up to ten years in federal prison, in addition to fines.

To read more click here.

FBI Says Man Threatened to Kill Jews and Blacks

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Abraham Foxman, the leader of the Anti-Defamation League leader, may have been targeted by a white supremacist planning to kill Jews and blacks, the FBI said, according to the Jewish news website JTA.

Danny Lee Warner, 33, told his wife about the plan before being arrested on Dec. 28 outside of an Arizona McDonald’s, according to the website. Warner’s wife had received a letter postmarked Dec. 19 from Warner saying he planned to kill “niggers and Jews” until the government “stopped him,” the report says.

His wife and his internet browser indicated  he may have possibly been planning a trip to New York to target  the ADL’s Foxman,  police say. Warner had also been a leader of the white supremacist group the Silent Aryan Warriors during a 10-year stint in the Utan prison system, law enforcement officials said.

To read more click here.

 

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Gets Rare ‘Red State’ Endorsement

doj photo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Eric Holder, a favorite target of Congressional Republicans in the wake of the Fast and Furious debacle in which ATF officials let guns “walk” from Southwestern dealers in the US to drug cartels in Mexico, is getting a rare endorsement from a prominent official in Utah–“perhaps the reddest of Republican-red states”–the website Main Justice reports.

“To come all the way out here to a red state and speak to us on a big occasion, I think it’s huge,” Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. Holder is expected to give the keynote address at the Martin Luther King Jr. Human Rights Commission’s annual launch in Salt Lake City.

Shurtleff has been a vocal supporter of Holder, co-authoring an editorial in the Arizona Republic in November with former Utah AG Terry Goddard which argued, as Holder did before Congress, that Congress has failed to give the Justice Department the tools and funding needed to stop the flow of guns across the border, Main Justice reported.

Still, other state Republicans are as unhappy about Holder’s appearance as some might expect. The Attorney General “needs to be held responsible for the ‘Fast and Furious’ debacle and should be immediately removed from office,” State Rep. Carl Wimmer said. “…The man has no right to be in the position he is in,” he said.

To read more click here.

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