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Archive for June 15th, 2015

Happy Birthday, Magna Carta

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com
Eight hundred years ago today, a group of rebellious English barons met with despotic King John at Runnymede near the Thames River and agreed to a peace treaty , the Magna Carta. Negotiated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the charter was meant to settle an aristocratic uprising over the unpopular king’s tax levies. It lasted two months before it was annulled.

The fact that the Magna Carta failed in its initial purpose has not dimmed its eight century luster as an iconic symbol of freedom and the rule of law. Proponents of measures to assure the rights of individuals over the arbitrary authority of the governments have long relied on the document’s mythic status in Anglo American history.

For most of those eight centuries the Magna Carta has stood for the right of free men to a fair and free trial. What women got out of the charter was the right to inherit as widows and to not be compelled to re-marry against their wishes. All in all, not an insignificant step toward gender equality.

However, during the same centuries historians have questioned the authenticity and significance of the document as a basis for all the principles it has come to stand for. Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell referred to it as the “Magna Farta,” a tag that would be considered almost sacrilegious to the constitutionalists in Britain and the United States who reverently consider the document to be the very foundation of our individual liberties.

Nevertheless it remains fashionable to poke holes in the document as having been distorted in order to achieve the ends of centuries of legal reform. They point out that technically the overwhelming majority of its Latin clauses have been repealed, refined, and replaced by subsequent legislation. But these protests are largely ignored by the real world.

Perhaps no groups have relied on the Magna Carta more assiduously than the American colonists and, later, revolutionaries and Constitution drafters. To them the document was the common law basis of the guarantees of the Bill of Rights, habeas corpus, and trial by jury.

Perhaps its most far reaching provision is the one that promises: “no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” Moreover, whether by myth or historical reality, the document has come to mean much more than its words and original purpose.

Chief Justice Roberts recently quoted the Magna Carta (“To no one will we sell, to no one will we refuse or delay right or justice.”) in support of the historical basis for the principle of judicial integrity. Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar, 575 U.S. __ (2015) (upholding a Florida law which prohibited judges from personally soliciting campaign contributions).

In the long journey since the 13th Century, the rule of law has protected us from despotism on one side and anarchy on the other. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors, foot soldiers of the Constitution, can take pride in their important role in building our legal system, case by case, so that all individuals can enjoy fair adjudicative procedures and an equal application of the law. As is carved on the outside of the Justice Department building, “Where law ends, tyranny begins. Law alone can give us freedom.”

Whatever its historical anachronicity, the Magna Carta was a first step in the development of the rule of law, not rule of kings or even men, a process that continues today in every police department, federal law enforcement agency, prosecutor’s and U.S. Attorney’s Offices, in which charges and disputes are considered and resolved.

So if you are searching for a milestone to celebrate this week, you could do no better than to toast the enduring legacy of this ancient document.

 

Parker: Happy Birthday, Magna Carta

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office. He is the author of the book “Carving Out the Rule of Law: The History of the United States Attorney’s Office in Eastern Michigan 1815–2008″.

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

Ross Parker

 

Eight hundred years ago today, a group of rebellious English barons met with despotic King John at Runnymede near the Thames River and agreed to a peace treaty , the Magna Carta. Negotiated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the charter was meant to settle an aristocratic uprising over the unpopular king’s tax levies. It lasted two months before it was annulled.

The fact that the Magna Carta failed in its initial purpose has not dimmed its eight century luster as an iconic symbol of freedom and the rule of law. Proponents of measures to assure the rights of individuals over the arbitrary authority of the governments have long relied on the document’s mythic status in Anglo American history.

For most of those eight centuries the Magna Carta has stood for the right of free men to a fair and free trial. What women got out of the charter was the right to inherit as widows and to not be compelled to re-marry against their wishes. All in all, not an insignificant step toward gender equality.

However, during the same centuries historians have questioned the authenticity and significance of the document as a basis for all the principles it has come to stand for. Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell referred to it as the “Magna Farta,” a tag that would be considered almost sacrilegious to the constitutionalists in Britain and the United States who reverently consider the document to be the very foundation of our individual liberties.

Nevertheless it remains fashionable to poke holes in the document as having been distorted in order to achieve the ends of centuries of legal reform. They point out that technically the overwhelming majority of its Latin clauses have been repealed, refined, and replaced by subsequent legislation. But these protests are largely ignored by the real world.

Perhaps no groups have relied on the Magna Carta more assiduously than the American colonists and, later, revolutionaries and Constitution drafters. To them the document was the common law basis of the guarantees of the Bill of Rights, habeas corpus, and trial by jury.

Perhaps its most far reaching provision is the one that promises: “no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” Moreover, whether by myth or historical reality, the document has come to mean much more than its words and original purpose.

Chief Justice Roberts recently quoted the Magna Carta (“To no one will we sell, to no one will we refuse or delay right or justice.”) in support of the historical basis for the principle of judicial integrity. Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar, 575 U.S. __ (2015) (upholding a Florida law which prohibited judges from personally soliciting campaign contributions).

Read more »

Former DEA Agent Indicted For Fraud in a Case In Which He Posed as an FBI Agent

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A former DEA agent has been charged with fraud in a scheme in which he allegedly posed as an active FBI agent and helped a person who posed as a former federal prosecutor defraud a man who enlisted their help to recover money in a fraud scheme.

David Garcia Herrera, 70, of Torrance,Calif. was arrested last week at Los Angeles International Airport by the FBI last week.

Herrera is one of two defendants. The second defendant, —Jerome Arthur Whittington, 65, of La Quinta, Calif. who who allegedly posed as a successful attorney and told at least one victim that he was a former federal prosecutor.

A press release issued last week stated:

In the indictment filed last week, Whittington and Herrera allegedly joined forces to defraud two victims, one of whom lost money in fraudulent investments, and another who was trying to obtain immigration benefits for his wife.

In the first scheme, Whittington posed as an attorney and Herrera pretended to be an FBI special agent as they falsely promised the victim they could help him recover losses in fraudulent schemes related to two companies, Pacific Property Assets and Medical Capital Corporation. Whittington and Herrera told the victim that they were able to seize assets from the two fraudulent companies, but the victim needed to provide money that would be used to “post bonds” that were required prior to seizing the assets. After Whittington claimed that he had obtained a $4 million judgment, Whittington told the victim that representatives from the companies and other victims were very angry and that he should leave the country to avoid confrontations and harassment.

Read more »

Former Congressman: Merging ATF with FBI Would Be Ugly Mistake

By Former Rep. Jim Ross Lightfoot 
For The Hill

The idea of merging the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) into the FBI has reared its ugly head once again. This idea is wrong in so many ways. As a former chairman of the old Treasury, Postal Service and General Government Subcommittee in the Appropriations Committee, which had jurisdiction over the ATF, the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Customs Service, and other federal law enforcement, and as a former police officer, I am speaking from experience.

My father used to tell me, “Son, you can’t fix anything until you figure out why it broke.” If Congress had been doing its job, the situation within ATF and other federal agencies would not be a problem today.
It’s all about accountability. Or, I should say, lack of accountability.

For example, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) held extensive hearings into the so-called Fast and Furious fiasco. The people responsible for the operation were identified.

And then the deafening sound of silence. Nothing happened. No one got fired. No one indicted for what was identified as criminal action. No oversight hearings into the operation of the ATF. No questioning of ATF management. No one held accountable for anything.

The only result of these hearings was retribution by ATF management against the agents that came forward and identified the people within ATF behind Fast and Furious.

Ladies and gentlemen of the U.S. Congress, one of your sworn, top duties is accountability from all federal agencies to the American people. You have failed us miserably! The ATF is not the only agency with huge internal problems. You would do the country a huge favor if you would put away the entire headline, photo-op grabbing issues for one whole two-year session of Congress and spend your time doing extensive oversight into all agencies and then taking the appropriate actions to correct the issues you uncover. You all would get reelected.

Border Patrol Agents Absolved of Every Shooting But 3; Others Under Investigation

istock photo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Border Patrol has absolved agents of 64 of 67 shootings, according to a recently completed review, the Los Angeles Times reports. 

The shootings, which resulted in 19 deaths, were considered justifiable use of force.

Three cases are still under investigation and involve shootings.

Charges have not resulted from any of the cases. In one case, two agents were disciplined and received oral reprimands.

“Turning the page doesn’t mean burying the past,” said Chris Rickerd, a border security expert at the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington. “There is no assurance to border residents that agents who have used excessive, improper lethal force aren’t on the job in their communities.”

Looking Ahead for TSA After Study Found Serious Surveillance Issues

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Now that many see the TSA as a failure,  what’s next next for the beleaguered agency?

Give the task back to the airlines?

The Hill offers insight, saying private competition may drive down prices but you get what you pay for.

More than 13 years after 9/11, we are still struggling to ensure the continued security of America’s airliners, which suggests that this is not an easy task. Most of the problems seem to be in human performance. This is not because TSA agents are not up to the task. Screeners work hard to do their best, and they regularly uncover guns and other weapons that passengers attempt to conceal. Their failure is not owed to the fact that passengers have observed them taking breaks or occasionally joking with one another. The checkpoint is their workspace. Effective security does not require visible hardship or a scowling demeanor.

Screeners have a difficult task to perform under often terrible conditions. They have to deal with crowds of soon-to-be passengers, who are often apprehensive about flying or missing flights or complain about being told by some stranger to take off their shoes or their belts or empty their pockets. Every move the screeners make is watched by hundreds of people who view the screeners as adversaries.

Andrew G. McCabe Takes Over As Assistant Director in Charge of Washington Office

Andrew McCabe

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Andrew G. McCabe, who recently held the FBI’s top national security post, has taken over as assistant director in charge of the Washington Field Office.

McCabe now heads up the bureau’s second largest field division, which includes Northern Virginia.

McCabe’s FBI career began in 19996, when he was assigned to the New York Field Office. After collecting experience with organized crime, McCabe began to focus on counterterrorism when he was promoted to the Counterterrorism Division.

According to the FBI: 

In 2008, Mr. McCabe was promoted to assistant special agent in charge of the Washington Field Office’s Counterterrorism Division, where he managed several programs, including the National Capital Response Squad, Rapid Deployment Team, domestic terrorism squad, cyber‐ counterterrorism targeting squad, and extraterritorial investigations squad.

Mr. McCabe was selected as the first director of the High‐Value Interrogation Group in 2009. In 2010, the Director of National Intelligence certified Mr. McCabe as a senior intelligence officer.

In 2011, Mr. McCabe returned to the Counterterrorism Division at FBI Headquarters, where he served as deputy assistant director and assistant director.

Most recently, Mr. McCabe served as executive assistant director of the National Security Branch. Overseeing all FBI national security programs, including the Counterterrorism Division, the Counterintelligence Division, the Intelligence Division, the Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, the Terrorism Screening Center, and the High-Value Interrogation Group, Mr. McCabe ensured the FBI successfully executed its primary mission to defend the United States against national security threats.

Before entering the FBI, Mr. McCabe worked as a lawyer in private practice. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Duke University and Juris Doctor from Washington University School of Law.

FBI: Officers Had No Clue What to Do After Tamir Rice Shooting

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI agent who tried to save Tamir Rice’s life after he was shot by a Cleveland police officer described the scene as chaotic and said cops had no idea what to do, Clevaland.com reports.

The agent was a paramedic and took charge because the others, he said, “I don’t think they knew what to do.”

The 12-year-old boy’s intestines spilled out of his torso.

The bureau declined to identify the agent, who served in the Marines and Air Force.

As he was helping Tamir, the boy “turned over and acknowledged and looked at me, and he like reached for my hand.”

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