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Archive for April 23rd, 2012

Long-Time U.S. Atty. Spokesman Patrick Crosby Departs to Start PR and Media Consulting Firm

Patrick Crosby

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Patrick Crosby, the quick-witted press spokesman and long-time fixture in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta, is moving on. He had been with the office for 15 years.

Crosby, a former investigative reporter and anchorman, has opened a media and public relations service called GeorgiaNewsmakers.com. While in the media, he won two  Emmys and a national Telly.

“For Georgia’s legal community, business and other independents, why is someone else making headlines, or used as an expert source and not you?,” his website says. “Have you had true media training from a true professional and not someone who happens to have some peripheral experience and works for a PR firm?”

“It is your opportunity to play to your strengths, exhibit your expertise, and have the opportunity to be a public figure expert, case study, feature, or participant in the mainstream, in the media, print, broadcast, narrowcast, specialty media, social media, and community events, all arranged for you, and written for you as well,” the site says.

 

Column: Secret Service Scandal is Not Indicative of Agency’s Current Culture

James G. Huse is a retired Inspector General for Social Security and the retired assistant director of the U.S. Secret Service. He occasionally writes a column for ticklethewire.com. He currently a Senior Advisor for a major consulting firm.

James G. Huse

By James G. Huse
ticklethewirecom

I have been somewhat “retired” from this column for many months, but the No. 1 news story in Washington this past week, the Secret Service personnel who broke the code of conduct rules in Cartagena on an advance assignment for President Obama’s trip, has motivated me back to the keyboard.

I have waited a bit for the media hysterics to somewhat abate before making these observations.

Contrary to the hue and cry, this is not the greatest crisis in Secret Service history.

That was, as we all know, the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963. That was a true crisis. This instant mess is an egregious failure of discipline on the part of the personnel involved. The breach was reported to leadership and instant remediation action ensued.

This is not, by any gauge, proof of a pandemic culture of immorality and irresponsibility in today’s Secret Service, nor is it the first time in Secret Service history that agents and officers have been disciplined for breaking the rules.

As in all organizations there are people who fail to meet or perform to acceptable standards. Dealing with those individuals has been a continuing Secret Service focus through the years.

I know this because it was my job as a Secret Service Assistant Director. In this current matter the Secret Service process of discipline and correction was well underway before it became public knowledge.

When the failure became known to management the situation was immediately addressed and the miscreant agents and officers immediately replaced.

While this event is certainly an embarrassment to the Secret Service it is not -as some strident media experts suggest – a complete condemnation of its leadership, professionalism and public service to the United States. The over-the-top posturing of these so-called experts should raise some questions about the substantiation behind their pronouncements they endlessly tout on the news media. I wonder what their professional experience is and what their qualifications are, to advance these opinions.

I also question why their inside sources remain anonymous? During my years as Inspector General of Social Security Administration a steady stream of provocative allegations about agency leaders were reported to my office from anonymous sources.

Very few proved to have any validity. I am wary of unidentified sources. To me, it’s the old courage of your convictions test. Too much exists as fact today that is never substantiated by good validation and verification before it is proclaimed to our over-connected world.

I know I am very subjective about my views on the Secret Service. I spent the balance of my federal career in it. I served with the finest men and women I know. I also know that the agents, officers, and all the Secret Service staff of today hold to the same commitments and standards that I did in my time.

On this past Wednesday evening, April 18, a wreath was placed at the Law Enforcement Memorial on E Street NW, here in Washington to commemorate the 29 officers and agents who have died in the line of duty since the Secret Service was authorized by President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865.

The Secret Service has a long and rich history of public service to the United States. It is made up of real people, steadfast men and women who respect these traditions, and serve their country with honor and commitment.

Where there are individuals who fail to keep this compact they are identified, and following due process, are removed. This is the abiding core culture of the Secret Service.

FBI Seizes Server in Anonymous Pittsburgh Bomb Threat Case

Shoshanna Utchenik
ticklethewire.com

Feds roiled progressives, leftists, and free speech activists last Wednesday when they removed a server from the co-location of  Riseup and May First/People Link offices in NYC  — all part of an FBI probe into bomb threats against the University of Pittsburgh, according to the organization Riseup.

The FBI appeared to target the server because it  hosted Mixmaster, which is operated by European Counter Network (“ECN”) and allows people to send anonymous emails.

Riseup promotes itself as providing online communication tools for people and groups promoting social change. May First/People Link describes itself as a ” a politically progressive member-run and controlled organization that redefines the concept of “Internet Service Provider” in a collective and collaborative way. ”

Disabling Mixmaster shutdown several other services, and led Riseup to accuse the FBI of using a “sledge hammer approach.” Riseup states in a press release that the seizure closed down over 300 email accounts, between 50-80 email lists including the oldest discussion list in Italy on the topic of “cyber rights”, and several other websites, none accused of wrongdoing.

Riseup spokesperson Devin Theriot-Orr stated, “We sympathize with the University of Pittsburgh community who have had to deal with this frightening disruption for weeks. We oppose such threatening actions. However, taking this server won’t stop these bomb threats” because the anonymizing software does not log sources or routes of messages. “The only effect it has is to also disrupt e-mail and websites for thousands of unrelated people.”

To read more click here.

John Edwards Campaign Finance Trial Begins

Shoshanna Utchenik
ticklethewire.com

In like a lion, out like a lamb for former golden boy John Edwards. Even if he beats criminal charges of campaign finance corruption, Edwards will be hard-pressed to ever recover his public image.

The L.A. Times reports that former North Carolina Senator and presidential candidate John Edwards goes to trial on Monday, having plead not-guilty to 6 criminal counts of campaign finance violations. If he loses the case, he faces up to 30 years jail time and $1.5 million in fines, according to the Times.

Edwards’ defense team contends that bills paid by 101-year-old Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, the Virginian banking heiress, and the late Fred Baron, a Texas lawyer, were personal gifts from friends and not campaign contributions.

Used to support and conceal Edwards’ mistress and their child during the 2008 Presidential campaign, the funds were also alleged to have bought a “dream house” for Edwards’ aide Andrew Young, who became embroiled in the scandal by claiming to be the father of Edwards’ love child to divert the press.

“This case is significant both legally and politically,” Kenneth Gross, a Washington ethics lawyer, told the L.A. Times. “This is the first criminal case dealing with an excessive gift, particularly a gift not ever going to a campaign, and spent for purposes seemingly unrelated to a campaign.”

The trial is expected to last 6 weeks.

To read more click here.

 

Judge May Sanction Feds After DEA Agent Failed to Mention Use of GPS

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
The failure to disclose evidence to defense attorneys continues to be a nagging problem in the federal court system, according to the website FieldLogix.

In one of the latest incidents, U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett of Iowa is considering sanctions against prosecutors after a DEA agent failed to disclose that it used a warrantless GPS tracker on a suspect’s car, the website reported.

The judge declared a mistrial in the case in December after the defense raised the issue.

Subsequently, in January the Supreme Court ruled that agencies needed a warrant to use a GPS tracking system in an investigation.

The agent in the the Iowa case, David Jensen, referred in reports to what “surveillance showed” and failed to mention the GPS, the website reported. The judge has ruled that Jensen acted in bad faith by not disclosing use of the GPS.

A hearing on the matter is set for April 30.

 

FBI and Homeland Security Not Only Agencies That Want to Fly Drones

istock photo

 
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI and Homeland Security aren’t the only law enforcement agencies that have gotten permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly drones in the friendly sky.

CNET reports that new documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation from a lawsuit against the feds show that some very small police department have gotten permission from the FAA including Herington, Kan., (population 2,526) and Gadsden, Ala.

FBI Returns Wedding Ring to Head of Michigan Militia

Hutaree members- Stone Sr. is in upper left hand corner /southern poverty law center photo By Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — The wedding ring has been returned.

The leaders of a Michigan militia, who was acquitted in a high-profile case in Detroit that involved allegations of killing cops and revolting against the government, has finally gotten his wedding ring after two years, Ed White of the Associated Press reported.

The feds had seized the ring from the Hutaree militia leader David Stone Sr. along with other items including credit cards and military-style gear. Stone, his wife Tina and five other members were acquitted of the charges of revolting against the government.

On Friday, Stone and his wife Tina parked a pickup and trailer outside a fed building in downtown Detroit where the FBI is housed and collected their belongings — including the ring and military gear — from FBI employees, AP reported.

The acquittals in March were a major embarrassment  to the federal government. Defense attorneys all along had said the case was bogus. The feds insisted the threats and the plotting were real.

 

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