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Archive for May 16th, 2013

The FBI Files: A Peek Into Detroit Mobster Vito Giacalone’s Cat-And-Mouse Game With the Feds

The late Detroit mobster Vito "Billy Jack" Giacalone

 
By Allan Lengel
Deadline Detroit

DETROIT — Like old Tiger Stadium and the Vernors plant, Vito (Billy Jack) Giacalone was a fixture in Detroit, one of the city’s best known mobsters — a Tony Soprano type whose mug occasionally graced the 6 p.m. news.

He was a suspect in the Jimmy Hoffa disappearance. He was known as a street boss who helped run sports betting operations.

And he wasn’t shy about collecting debts.

After he died last year at 88, I filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the FBI, which indicated it had about 20,000 documents on Giacalone.

I became interested in Giacalone when I was a reporter at the Detroit News in the early 1990s. He had just pleaded guilty to some IRS charges and was walking out of a federal courtroom downtown.

“Mr. Giacalone, would you care to comment?” I asked. He ignored me, and with an icy stare, straight ahead, he proceeded to the elevator.

Before he went off to prison, I wrote a rather lengthy profile on him. I called his attorney David DuMouchel to request an interview. Dumouchel called Giacalone, then called me back to say that he not only didn’t want to talk, but: “He’s not happy” that I was doing the story.

While Giacalone was alive, we got very little information on his private goings on, even though there was always a thirst for news about the Mafia. I thought the FBI files could shed some light.

FBI Finally Releases Some Documents

A week ago, I got the first installment from the FBI, a measly 120-plus pages or so, focusing on the mid-1980s. Many were redacted, chock full of whited out spaces to hide names and certain information , and more than 250 were reviewed and withheld. The FBI said it is working on processing the rest of the documents, determining what it can release.

To read full story click here.

 

FBI Director Robert Mueller Concedes Slip-up on Boston Bomber’s Travel

Robert Mueller

By JOSH GERSTEIN
Politico

WASHINGTON — The terrorist tracking task force in Boston failed to act on notices that one of the alleged Boston Marathon bombers had traveled to and from Russia last year, FBI Director Robert Mueller told lawmakers Thursday.

Mueller said the authorities would “do better” next time in following up on such information.

Mueller said that before Tamerlan Tsarnaev went to Russia in early 2012 a member of the Joint Terrorism Task Force got a notification from a database known as TECS (formerly the Treasury Enforcement Communications System). Tamerlan’s travel was being flagged because of information the Russian intelligence service gave the FBI in 2011 that he’d become more religious and was interested in joining Islamic radical groups in Russia.

To read more click here.

 

Read his statement Thursday before  the Senate Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies

Good morning Chairwoman Mikulski, Ranking Member Shelby, and members of the subcommittee. I look forward to discussing the FBI’s efforts as a threat-driven, intelligence-led organization that is guided by clear operational strategies and priorities.

The FBI has established strong practices for sharing intelligence, leveraged key technologies to help us be more efficient and productive, and hired some of the best to serve as special agents, intelligence analysts, and professional staff. We have built a workforce and leadership cadre that view change and transformation as a positive tool for keeping the FBI focused on the key threats facing our nation.

Just as our national security and criminal adversaries and threats constantly adapt and evolve, so must the FBI be able to quickly respond with new or revised strategies and operations to counter these threats. Looking forward, a key challenge facing the FBI will be maintaining its current capabilities and capacities to respond to these threats at a time when the budgetary environment remains constrained.

We live now, and will for the foreseeable future, in a time of acute and persistent threats to our national security, economy, and community safety from terrorists, foreign adversaries, criminals and violent gangs, and cyber attackers. The attacks in Boston are vivid examples of the threat. This subcommittee understands these threats—and the consequences of failing to address them. I look forward to working with the subcommittee to ensure that the FBI maintains the intelligence, investigative, and infrastructure capabilities and capacities needed to deal with these threats and crime problems within the current fiscal climate. One lesson we have learned is that those who would do harm to the nation and its citizens will exploit any weakness they perceive in the ability and capacity of the U.S. government to counter their activities. We must identify and fix those gaps while not allowing new weaknesses or opportunities for terrorists, cyber criminals, foreign agents, and criminals to exploit.

The FBI’s fiscal year (FY) 2014 budget request totals $8.4 billion in direct budget authority, including 34,787 permanent positions (13,082 special agents, 3,026 intelligence analysts, and 18,679 professional staff). This funding level provides critical funding to address threats posed by terrorists, cyber attackers, and criminals.

The threats facing the homeland, briefly outlined below, underscore the complexity and breadth of the FBI’s mission to protect the nation in a post-9/11 world. Let me briefly summarize the key national security threats and crime problems that this funding supports.

 National Security Threats

 Terrorism

We have pursued those who committed, or sought to commit, acts of terrorism against the United States. Along with our partners in the military and intelligence communities, we have taken the fight against terrorism to our adversaries’ own sanctuaries in the far corners of the world—including Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Southwest Asia, and the Horn of Africa. We have worked to uncover terrorist cells and supporters within the United States and disrupted terrorist financial, communications, and operational lifelines at home and abroad. We have built strong partnerships with law enforcement in countries around the world.

The threat from terrorism remains complex and ever-changing. We are seeing more groups and individuals engaged in terrorism, a wider array of terrorist targets, greater cooperation among terrorist groups, and continued evolution and adaptation in tactics and communication.

Threats from homegrown terrorists are also of great concern. These individuals are difficult to detect, able to connect with other extremists, and—in some instances—highly capable operationally. There is no typical profile of a homegrown terrorist; their experiences and motivating factors are distinct. Many questions remain as to the precise motivation, planning, and possible support to the attacks in Boston. However, it is increasingly likely that the Boston attacks may prove to be the latest example of homegrown extremism.

Radicalization to violence remains an issue of great concern. Many factors appear to contribute to radicalization here at home, and those factors may explain why radicalization is more prevalent now than in the past. First, American extremists appear to be attracted to wars in foreign countries. We have already seen a number of Americans travel overseas to train and fight with extremist groups. The increase and availability of extremist propaganda in English perpetuate the problem.

Read more »

President Obama Demands, Accepts Resignation of the IRS’ Acting Commissioner

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The acting commissioner of the IRS resigned Wednesday after the agency disclosed it had targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, the Washington Post reports.

President Obama demanded the resignation of Steven T. Miller in hopes of quelling the controversy.

Obama spoke briefly but passionately about the IRS’ disclosure.

“Americans are right to be angry about it, and I’m angry about it,” he said, adding that he “will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but especially in the IRS, given the power that it has and the reach that it has.”

On the Front Lines with Border Patrol Near Canadian Entry in Detroit Area

Reputed Boston Mobster Whitey Bulger’s Attorney Seeks Disclosure of FBI Informant

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Reputed Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger is asking a federal judge to force the disclosure of the identity of a confidential informant, the Boston Herald reports.

Bulger’s lawyers said the informant can help discredit two witnesses who plan to testify against the aging gangster at the criminal trial, which begins June 13.

“The information provided by the source is highly relevant for  impeachment purposes. It demonstrates the willingness of both Weeks and Martorano to shade their version of events in a manner favorable to themselves and those they wish to protect,” Bulger attorney J.W. Carney  wrote.

“Their intentional withholding of incriminating information about their friends raises serious questions about whether they were truthful in their dealings with the government,” he added.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

AG Holder Defends Justice Department’s Secret Gathering of Associated Press Records

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Eric Holder defended the secret gathering of telephone records at the Associated Press on Wednesday, citing a serious national security leak, the AP reports.

Grilled by Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. House, Holder testified that he has faith in those conducting the investigation and recused himself from the case because “I’m a possessor of information eventually leaked.”

Holder said he couldn’t explain the subpoenas or why the IRS didn’t try to negotiate with the news agency to get the records, the AP wrote.

Members of Congress weren’t happy.

“There doesn’t appear to be any acceptance of responsibility for things that have gone wrong,” Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., told Holder.

 

Ex-FBI Director Freeh Hired to Investigate Scandal Embroiling Pilot Flying J on Behalf of Victims

Louis Freeh

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Former FBI Director Louis Freeh’s firm has launched a private investigation on behalf of companies suing Pilot Flying J to determine how much the diesel fuel retailer may have bilked customers out of rebates, the Associated Press reports.

The plaintiffs hired Freeh after FBI agents raided Pilot’s headquarters in Knoxville, Tenn. in search of information about the alleged scam.

The company’s CEO, Jimmy Haslam, also owns the Cleveland Browns.

Feds are investigating allegations that the company boosted profits by withholding rebates to diesel customers, the AP wrote.

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