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Archive for January 28th, 2014

Updated: War of Words Heats Up in Controversy Over DEA’s Leonhart’s Criticism of Obama’s Remarks

Michele Leonhart/dea photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The war on drugs has turned into a war of words.

The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FlEOA)is publicly defending DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart, who criticized President Obama’s remarks downplaying the dangers of pot. He said it was no more dangerous than alcohol.

The Marijuana Policy Project has called for her head and is petitioning the White House to fire her.

In a press release that mocks the marijuana organization, FLEOA stated: “The pot-loving MPP group concluded, perhaps while under the influence of a mind altering substance, that Administrator Leonhart should be replaced because she allegedly disagreed with comments made by President Obama.”

“Demonstrating an alarming form of hypocrisy, the MPP seeks to trample on the Administrator’s freedom of speech — a Constitutional right — while trumpeting their new-found Colorado freedom to get high in public and spread the stench of their smoke,” the press release said.

FLEOA National President Jon Adler said in a statement: “Administrator Leonhart is one of the best enforcement leaders in our country, and she continues to do a commendable job leading the premiere agency that enforces our nation’s drug laws.”

Updated Tuesday, 4:55 p.m.

RESPONSE:

Dan Riffle, Director of Federal Policies for the Marijuana Policy Projected responded with this statement:

Much like Ms. Leonhart, the FLEOA doesn’t have their facts straight. We’re not calling for her to be fired because she disagrees with President Obama. We’re calling for her to be fired because she either doesn’t understand or is intentionally ignoring basic scientific facts, and it’s her job to make decisions based on those facts. Marijuana is less addictive, less toxic, less harmful to the body, and unlike alcohol, doesn’t cause violent behavior. It is objectively less harmful than alcohol, yet Ms. Leonhart has obstructed efforts to remove marijuana from its current classification as a “Schedule I” drug alongside heroin and methamphetamine. In other words, she is disregarding the obligations of her job, and undermining her employer’s commitment to scientific integrity in policy-making.

We’re also not trying to trample her First Amendment freedom of speech rights. If Ms. Leonhart would like to proclaim the world is flat, that’s her right, but the American public shouldn’t be force to hand over $165,000 of their hard-earned tax dollars to pay her an exorbitant salary for doing so.

One thing the FLEOA is correct about is that under Ms. Leonhart’s leadership the DEA has amassed an “impressive record.” They have an impressive record of giving guns to Mexican drug cartels, using NSA data to illegally spy on Americans, concealing evidence from defendants, prosecutors and judges, and jailing someone without food or water for days costing taxpayers $4.1 million in a legal judgment.

Understandably, Americans aren’t very impressed with that record, which is perhaps why more than 18,000 people have signed our petition calling for her removal. I urge the FLEOA to join them.

 

 

Feds Want to Give a Break to Close Kwame Kilpatrick Confidante Who Testified Against Him

Featured_bell_11205Emma Bell/DOJ photo
By Allan Lengel
Deadline Detroit

DETROIT — Emma Bell, Kwame Kilpatrick’s chief fundraiser who provided helpful testimony against the ex-Detroit mayor in last year’s corruption trial, should get a break in her sentencing Thursday in federal court for income tax evasion, federal prosecutors wrote.

In a sentencing memorandum filed Monday, prosecutors Michael Bullotta and Mark Chutkow wrote  that the judge should grant a downward departure from the recommended sentencing guidelines, saying Bell provided “substantial assistance in the  investigation and prosecution of other criminal activity.”

The guidelines call for Bell, 70, to be sentenced anywhere from 18 to 24 months in prison. The government is recommending to U.S. District Judge Nancy G. Edmunds that the guidelines range from 9 to 12 months. Bell could even probation.

In a court filing, prosecutors wrote:

Ms. Bell was paid a commission from the funds she raised– usually between 10-15%.  Kwame Kilpatrick required her to kick back half of the money in cash when her  commission checks reached $5,000 or more.

Ms. Bell dutifully complied with Mr. Kilpatrick’s directive; however, she failed to report her commissions on her federal tax returns. As a result, she owes the Internal Revenue Service restitution in the \amount of $334,236 , which represents the additional tax due and owing from her  unreported income for tax years 2003 through 2008.

Bell was teary eyed when she testified Kilpatrick and said he was like a son.

The filing by prosecutors stated:

From the outset, Ms. Bell was cooperative about her failure to pay taxes on her fund raising commissions. Significantly, Ms. Bell volunteered information about misconduct of which the government was unaware, namely, the fact that Kwame Kilpatrick had demanded she pay him cash commission kickbacks.

Ms. Bell took part in numerous proffers, as well as meetings in preparation for trial, and was extremely forthright.

At trial, Ms. Bell testified at length against Kwame Kilpatrick, something that  was emotionally painful for her because of her close relationship with the Kilpatrick family.

Kwame was sentenced in October to 28 years in prison.  His buddy Bobby Ferguson got 21 years.

Read Court of Appeals Ruling 8-14-15

 

FBI Finds Errors in DNA Database, Raising Questions of its Fallibility in Court Cases

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI and New York State authorities have found scores of mistaken DNA profiles in the national database, showing that human error is ever-present, the New York Times reports.

The FBI found about 170 profiles with probable errors, ranging from handwriting mistakes to interpretation errors by lab technicians.

While the findings represent just a tiny fraction of the nearly 13 million profiles, they cast some doubt on evidence that has long been treated as flawless in courts, the Times wrote.

It’s unclear yet what the long-term impact on the findings will be.

Top Secret Documents: NSA Targets Data from Smartphone Apps Like Angry Birds

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Just in case a terrorist is passing time playing Angry Birds, the NSA is trying to establish the technology to siphon information from the communication networks on smartphone apps, the Guardian reports, citing top secret documents.

The information is useful because it allows the agency to mine large quantities of cell phone data.

But the surveillance is catching strong criticism from civil liberty groups that say the federal government is using the threat of terrorism as a pretext for collecting troves of personal data.

The documents do not indicate the extent of the collection efforts.

Boston Globe Editorial: FBI’s Designation of Clown Posse Fans As Gang Members is Clownish

By The Boston Globe
Editorial Page

Throughout their two decades on the charts, the hip hop duo Insane Clown Posse’s over-the-top theatrics and often violent lyrics have put off many listeners. The fact that many of their fans — who refer to themselves as Juggalos — show their devotion with clown makeup and elaborate tattoos has further cemented the duo’s status as musical outlaws.

But should they literally be regarded as outlaws? The FBI seems to think so. In 2011, its National Gang Intelligence Center categorized the Juggalos as a gang. It’s a loose designation that causes more confusion than clarity, and raises uncomfortable concerns about judging people by their musical tastes rather than their actions. The FBI should be able to fight crime by face-painted villains without tarnishing all the followers of the group.

On Jan. 8, the band, along with four self-proclaimed Juggalos and the American Civil Liberties Union, filed a lawsuit in federal court contesting the designation. According to the complaint, being erroneously labeled a gang member has led to Juggalos with no criminal records being harassed by the police. Individual plaintiffs describe being subjected to traffic stops due to their tattoos or Insane Clown Posse bumper stickers or shirts.

To read more click here.

Widespread Abuse of Overtime Alleged at Homeland Security Department

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A whopping 95% of employees at the Department of Homeland Security’s offices in Northern Virginia are accused of hiking their pay by 25% through overtime abuse, the Washington Post reports, citing a report from the Office of Special Counsel.

Special Counsel Carolyn N. Lerner said allegations found that CBP employees “improperly claim” overtime “up to two hours a day, every day.”

“We all greatly appreciate the work being done by the men and women at DHS,” subcommittee chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said. “However, the employee actions and misuse of public funds outlined in OSC’s report are unacceptable.”

Pro-Pot Group Calls for Obama to Fire DEA Chief Over Statements About Marijuana

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA is so out of step with the nation and President Obama on marijuana that the agency’s chief should be fired, a leading marijuana reform group said.

The Huffington Post reports that the Marijuana Policy Project’s call for resignation comes after DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart spoke out firmly against marijuana legalization last week.

The criticism of legalizing pot appeared to be a response to Obama comparing marijuana’s dangers to alcohol.

“Whether Ms. Leonhart is ignorant of the facts or intentionally disregarding them, she is clearly unfit for her current position,” Dan Riffle, the group’s director of federal policies, said in a statement.

“The DEA administrator’s continued refusal to recognize marijuana’s relative safety compared to alcohol and other drugs flies in the face of the president’s commitment to prioritizing science over ideology and politics,” the statement continued. “She is neglecting the basic obligations of her job and fundamentally undermining her employer’s mission. This would be grounds for termination in the private sector, and the consequences for Ms. Leonhart should be no different.”

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