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Archive for April 28th, 2014

Column: The U.S. Government’s Hypocrisy When It Comes to Freedom of the Press

Reporter James Risen

By Trevor Timm
Freedom of the Press Foundation

The US State Department announced the launch of its third annual “Free the Press” campaign today, which will purportedly highlight “journalists or media outlets that are censored, attacked, threatened, or otherwise oppressed because of their reporting.” A noble mission for sure. But maybe they should kick off the campaign by criticizing their own Justice Department, which on the very same day, has asked the Supreme Court to help them force Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times reporter James Risen into jail.

Politico’s Josh Gerstein reports that the Justice Department filed a legal brief today urging the Supreme Court to reject Risen’s petition to hear his reporter’s privilege case, in which the Fourth Circuit ruled earlier this year that James Risen (and all journalists) can be forced to testify against their sources without any regard to the confidentiality required by their profession. This flies in the face of common law precedent all over the country, as well as the clear district court reasoning in Risen’s case in 2012. (The government’s Supreme Court brief can be read here.)

Associated Press reporter Matthew Lee commendably grilled the State Department spokesman about the contradiction of its press freedom campaign and the James Risen case at today’s briefing on the State Department initiative, repeatedly asking if the government considers press freedom issues in the United States the same way it does abroad. The full transcript is below.

As Gerstein noted, “The Justice Department brief is unflinchingly hostile to the idea of the Supreme Court creating or finding protections for journalists,” and if the Justice Department succeeds “it could place President Barack Obama in the awkward position of presiding over the jailing of a journalist in an administration the president has vowed to make the most transparent in history.”

To read full column click here. 

Homeland Security Department Goes Way Beyond Its Original Mission to Protect U.S. from Terrorists

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Department of Homeland Security, which was created in November 2002 following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, has gone far beyond its original purpose and is being used to investigate crimes unlearned to terrorism, the Albuquerque Journal reports.

The new law was simple: “The primary mission of the department is to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States; reduce the vulnerability of the United States to terrorism; minimize the damage, and assist in the recovery from terrorist attacks that do occur within the United States.”

But more than 11 years later, the mission has included interrogating people suspected of pirating videos, seizing counterfeit NBA merchandise and going after pickpocket cases.

“They’ve kind of lost their way,” former Secretary Tom Ridge said. “I was proud to be associated with those men and women, but it just seems to me … the focus – the primary focus – has been substantially diminished.”

But Homeland Security wants to expand its operations even more, especially in New Mexico, the Journal reported.

“I really do want to expand the footprint as far as my side of Homeland Security,” said Kevin Abar, assistant special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New Mexico.

U.S. Rep. Michael G. Grimm to Surrender to Federal Authorities on Charges Tied to Old Business

Rep. Michael Grimm

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Michael G. Grimm, the New York Congressman under investigation over his past ownership of a restaurant in Manhattan, is expected to turn himself over to federal authorities today, the Washington Post reports.

Grimm faces multiple charges connected to his former Manhattan health food restaurant that had ties with an Israeli fundraiser. The related donations reached more than $500,000.

The FBI declined to comment.

Grimm, who has denied improprieties, acknowledged collecting up to $300,000 in contributions from followers of Israeli Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto. Members of the congregation donated tens of thousands of dollars in allegedly illegal contributions that included gifts.

Secret Service’s Quick-Acting Rescue Caught on Camera Outside of White House

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Two quick-acting Secret Service agents are being credited with saving the life of a 59-year-old woman who collapsed in front of the White House, ABC News reports.

The first patrolling Secret Service Uniformed Division officer on scene discovered the woman had no pulse Thursday afternoon.
“He assessed the situation, she was unconscious and unresponsive, and so he radioed in another uniformed division officer,” Secret Service spokesman George Ogilvie told ABC News today.

“She was not breathing and was turning blue,” Ogilvie said, adding the second officer was a trained EMT.

The entire 16-minute rescue was captured on camera, show the officers administering CPR and using an automated external defibrillator device.

“They actually delivered a shock, and continued with compression until DC Fire [Department] responded,” Ogilvie said of Officer William Grimmer, who first saw the woman collapse, and Officer Thomas Hammond, the trained EMT.

The woman was taken to George Washington Hospital, where she was recovering, authorities said.

Washington State Gun Store That ‘Lost’ or had Stolen Nearly 2,500 Guns Stayed Open for 8 Years

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

It took eight years for the ATF to shut down a gun store in Washington state that had nearly 2,500 guns stolen or lost, Raw Story reports.To put that into perspective, there were fewer than 200 combined guns missing at the state’s other 1,093 stores.

“Stunning,” James Zammillo, a former ATF deputy assistant director, told The Seattle Times. “That is just an incredible number.”

Among the citations against the Kesselring Gun Shop were the failure to report stolen weapons or to secure explosive material. The store also was cited for selling guns without trying to confirm the identities of buyers.

Still the gun shop continued to operate and even posted a record $14.6 million in sales in 2006, Raw Story reported.

On This Day in 1973: FBI Chief Patrick Gray Quits in Wake of Watergate Scandal

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Patrick Gray was the acting head of the FBI when he was pressured to resign on April 28, 1973, in the wake of the President Nixon Watergate scandal, the Guardian reports.

Gray’s resignation came after news that he had burned incriminating documents tied to convicted Watergate conspirator Howard Hunt.
Gray was in line to succeed J. Edgar Hoover.

Despite the allegations, he claimed he did nothing wrong and was leaving for the sake of “the reputation, the integrity and the effectiveness of the FBI.”

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