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Archive for January 11th, 2016

ISIS Supporter Who Shot Philadelphia Cop May Belong to Larger Radical Group

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is investigating whether an ISIS supporter who shot a Philadelphia cop was part of a radical group that may still pose a threat, The Washington Post reports. 

The investigation follows a tip from a citizen who said the suspect, Edward Archer, was part of a larger group.

Archer ran up to a parole car Thursday and shot Officer Jesse Hartnett several times. The officer is in stable condition but was able to shoot and injure the attacker.

“He stated that he pledges his allegiance to Islamic State, he follows Allah and that is the reason he was called upon to do this,” Capt. James Clark said at Friday’s news conference. “He kept on echoing those sentiments and he wouldn’t give us anything more than that.”

Actor Sean Penn’s Visit with Mexican Drug Lord ‘El Chapo’ Was First Break in Manhunt

Sean Penn and "El Chapo," via Twitter.

Sean Penn and “El Chapo,” via Twitter.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The six-month manhunt for notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman came to an end in part because of his desire to reach out to actor Sean Penn, USA Today reports. 

Guzman was arrested in Los Mochis, Mexico, and soon could be extradited to the U.S.

Guzman reached out to actors and producers for a biographical movie about his life, which was the first break in the manhunt.

Penn flew to Mexico with actress Kate del Castillo to meet with Guzman, who had escaped from prison.

“El Chapo sticks to an illicit game (drugs), proudly volunteering, ‘I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world. I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats,’” Penn wrote.

Mexican marines raided a home in search of Guzman on Friday, killing six suspects and arresting six more.

Guzman fled but was captured a short time later.

Homeland Security Chief to Visit Michigan to Discuss Resettlement of Syrian Refugees

Jeh Johnson

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

To prepare for the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson plans to travel to Detroit and nearby Dearborn to discuss the issue on Wednesday, the Detroit Free Press reports. 

Michigan has received more Syrian refugees than any state but California and Texas since 2013.

Details of the visit weren’t clear Monday, but the White House said Johnson is visiting “to host a roundtable (discussion) with resettled Iraqi and Syrian refugees, as well as a discussion with interfaith student groups about” Homeland Security’s efforts to “counter violent extremism.”

Federal Government Rethinks Closure of Office That Investigated Antigovernment Groups

homeland2department-of-homeland-security-logo-300x300By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

When Daryl Johnson studied threats posed by antigovernment groups for Homeland Security, he was virtually ignored and criticized by conservatives, the New York Times reports.

So it was no surprise to Johnson when an armed group occupied a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon last week.

Johnson warned in a report about the growing antigovernment movement and the possibility that military veteran could “lead the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone-wolf extremists.”

Johnson’s office was shut down and his document was retracted.

But the tables have turned as Homeland Security struggles with identifying and foiling potential threats.

“The D.H.S. is scoffing at the mission of doing domestic counterterrorism,” Johnson said. “The same patterns that led to the growth of the antigovernment groups in the 1990s is being played out today. D.H.S. should be doing more.”

Man Accused of Plotting to Kidnap One of President Obama’s Dogs Claimed He Was Jesus Christ

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A man accused to trying to kidnap one of the Obama family’s dogs was arrested Wednesday with weapons and ammunition in his car, The Washington Post reports. 

Scott D. Stockert, 49, of North Dakota, has made many bizarre claims since his arrest. He claimed he was Jesus Christ and the son of John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe. He also said he planned to run for president, the Post wrote.

Stockert was not registered to own a gun and was charged with carrying a rifle or shotgun outside his home or place of business.

Obama has two Portuguese water dogs.

Other Stories of Interest

President Obama’s Dramatic Commutation Plan

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

This column recently presented the historic changes made by the Obama Administration to change the direction of drug enforcement, drug offender punishment and treatment for drug abusers. For the first time in four decades the executive branch has embarked on a systematic and multi-front program to reduce the penalties for convicted drug traffickers.

But it has also provided a program for early treatment of drug users who previously were limited to emergency rooms after overdoses followed by expensive hospital stays and limited rehabilitation.

One of the methods used by the President to affect the punishment scheme has been to wield his pardon and commutation power. President Obama has already set records by his commutation policy with 185 reduced sentences, 171 of which were in 2015, more than the combined number of the previous five Presidents combined.  Most of those grants have involved convicted drug traffickers serving long term prison sentences. The offenders chosen had little or no history of violence and were not repeat offenders.

Article II, section 2 of the Constitution, Clause 1 provides:  The President…shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment. The President’s clemency authority stems from the practice of Anglo-Saxon Kings to pardon, and it has not been seriously challenged either by Congress or the courts since it was included in the Constitution over two hundred years ago. It is now firmly ingrained in American public policy.

president obama- white house photo

Executive pardons and commutations are sometimes confused. Pardons are an expression of forgiveness by the President which removes the effects of a conviction, such as civil disabilities like voting, holding office or possessing firearms. Commutations, on the other hand, do not affect the conviction and only reduce sentences. The civil disabilities remain in effect. For example, a pardon can remove the legal basis for immigration deportation whereas a commutation will not.

Not since the period of 1919-1923 under the administrations of Presidents Wilson and Harding have substantial numbers of commutations been granted. During the period of 1986 to 1998 only 6 commutations were granted. Only President Johnson of the modern Presidents regularly used commutations under his executive clemency power. Other Presidents have used it sparingly: Nixon (60), Ford (22), Carter (29), Reagan (13), H.W. Bush (3), Clinton (61), Bush (11).

Now there is reason to believe that the final year of Obama’s Presidency will witness unprecedented numbers of commutations and pardons, potentially thousands, a total which will exceed any action in American history. Over 19,000 commutation petitions have been received, as many as the previous eight Presidents combined. The private pro bono group The Clemency Project is presently reviewing tens of thousands of additional petition requests for potential submission to the Office of Pardon Attorney in the Justice Department.

This onslaught is largely the result of DOJ’s announcement in April 2014 of an initiative to encourage qualified inmates to file petitions to reduce their sentences.

In 2015 President Obama spread his message of drug penalty reform to an Oklahoma prison, the first sitting President to make such an appearance. Petition requests are conditioned on a record of non-violence, a likelihood of a lower sentence under recent legislative and Sentencing Commission changes, a low-level role without significant ties to criminal organizations, gangs or cartels, custody for at least 10 years, and good conduct in prison.

DOJ recently announced an intention to hire 16 new Attorney Advisors (salary range $92,145 to $141,555) for the Office of Pardon Attorney to help process the clemency petitions and prepare recommendations to the Deputy Attorney General and the President. This move demonstrates what a high priority the initiative has in the Department and the Administration.

Criticism of Obama’s plan comes from various law enforcement and GOP sources. The President of the National Association of United States Attorneys considers his drug “reform” measures to be inconsistent with the long term security of the country. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte complained to the Attorney General that the initiative is unconstitutional, a “blatant usurpation of law making authority of the legislative branch.”

It would not be surprising for there to be legal action against the President’s plan. But it is doubtful that a court would eventually interfere (although there is some authority in dictum by Chief Justice Burger in the 1974 case of Schick v. Reed that pardons which violate other provisions of the Constitution could be invalid). However, any stay ordered by a federal judge in connection with a civil action could affect the President’s timetable. He has almost exactly one year, January 17, 2017, when the new President is sworn in, to take action.

Expect a staggering number of inmate releases in the next twelve months through commutations, probably several thousand, by far the largest number in U.S. history. Plus over 8,000 releases of inmates as a result of re-sentencing after the Obama-initiated changes by the Sentencing Commission of the Sentencing Guidelines. The combined effect will be one of the most spectacular actions by a President in the waning days of his presidency.

Whether the policy will ultimately be beneficial to the public or a dangerous miscalculation will be much debated by historians and in early morning diner klatches around America for years to come.

Parker: President Obama’s Dramatic Commutation Plan

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.

Ross Parker

Ross Parker

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

This column recently presented the historic changes made by the Obama Administration to change the direction of drug enforcement, drug offender punishment and treatment for drug abusers. For the first time in four decades the executive branch has embarked on a systematic and multi-front program to reduce the penalties for convicted drug traffickers.

But it has also provided a program for early treatment of drug users who previously were limited to emergency rooms after overdoses followed by expensive hospital stays and limited rehabilitation.

One of the methods used by the President to affect the punishment scheme has been to wield his pardon and commutation power. President Obama has already set records by his commutation policy with 185 reduced sentences, 171 of which were in 2015, more than the combined number of the previous five Presidents combined.  Most of those grants have involved convicted drug traffickers serving long term prison sentences. The offenders chosen had little or no history of violence and were not repeat offenders.

Article II, section 2 of the Constitution, Clause 1 provides:  The President…shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment. The President’s clemency authority stems from the practice of Anglo-Saxon Kings to pardon, and it has not been seriously challenged either by Congress or the courts since it was included in the Constitution over two hundred years ago. It is now firmly ingrained in American public policy.

president obama- white house photo

Executive pardons and commutations are sometimes confused. Pardons are an expression of forgiveness by the President which removes the effects of a conviction, such as civil disabilities like voting, holding office or possessing firearms. Commutations, on the other hand, do not affect the conviction and only reduce sentences. The civil disabilities remain in effect. For example, a pardon can remove the legal basis for immigration deportation whereas a commutation will not.

Not since the period of 1919-1923 under the administrations of Presidents Wilson and Harding have substantial numbers of commutations been granted. During the period of 1986 to 1998 only 6 commutations were granted. Only President Johnson of the modern Presidents regularly used commutations under his executive clemency power. Other Presidents have used it sparingly: Nixon (60), Ford (22), Carter (29), Reagan (13), H.W. Bush (3), Clinton (61), Bush (11).

Now there is reason to believe that the final year of Obama’s Presidency will witness unprecedented numbers of commutations and pardons, potentially thousands, a total which will exceed any action in American history. Over 19,000 commutation petitions have been received, as many as the previous eight Presidents combined. The private pro bono group The Clemency Project is presently reviewing tens of thousands of additional petition requests for potential submission to the Office of Pardon Attorney in the Justice Department.

This onslaught is largely the result of DOJ’s announcement in April 2014 of an initiative to encourage qualified inmates to file petitions to reduce their sentences.

Read more »

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