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Archive for May 17th, 2016

Book Excerpt: ‘Missing Man: The American Spy Who Vanished in Iran’

Ex-FBI agent Robert Levinson became a private investigator. He also had another life —  a consultant for the C.I.A. In 2007, Levinson, then 59, disappeared on Kish Island, in the Persian Gulf off the coast of Iran. He has been missing ever since. Barry Meier, a veteran New York Times reporter, has written a compelling book on the case titled: Missing Man: The American Spy Who Vanished in Iran. 

The following is an excerpt.

Prologue
November 13, 2010, Gulf Breeze, Florida

By Barry Meier

Rain splattered against the windshield of her silver- gray BMW as Sonya Dobbs pulled up to a security gate blocking the street. It wasn’t much of a gate, at least by Florida standards, just a long, rolling fence stretching across a road. She punched a code into the gate’s keypad.

After two unsuccessful tries, she used her cell phone to call her boss, David McGee, who opened the gate from inside his house. It slid back and Sonya drove through, a laptop resting on the passenger seat.
Sonya’s Saturday night had started very differently.

missingman (1) (1)

She had planned to spend it sorting through photographs. Sonya worked as Dave’s para legal at a large law firm called Beggs & Lane located in Pensacola, a city at the western end of Florida’s Panhandle, the narrow, two- hundred- mile- long coastal strip tucked between the Gulf of Mexico and the states of Alabama and Georgia.

Sonya wanted to carve out a second career as a photographer, and she had been on a chase boat the previous day in Pensacola Bay, snapping pictures of a new oceangoing tugboat, christened Freedom, as it went through test maneuvers. The photos showed the big black and gray tug slicing through the foamy water under a blue sky filled with white, puffy clouds. A maker of some of the boat’s parts had ordered pictures, and Sonya was happily spending her Saturday evening playing with different ways to crop the images.

Then the phone rang, and she heard a familiar voice on the other end of the line. Over the past three years, she had spoken to Ira Silverman hundreds of times, if she had to guess. Most days, the retired televi sion newsman phoned Dave at least once.

Their conversations were always about a mutual friend, Robert Levinson, a former agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation turned private investigator. Sonya had never met him, though she felt as if she had.
Bob disappeared in 2007 while on a trip to Iran. Dave and Ira, who had both known Bob for years, were trying to help his desperate family find him. Months after the investigator went missing, Dave convinced Bob’s wife, Christine, to ship his work files to Beggs & Lane. Sonya had read through them and or ga nized the reports. She was a natural snoop, at ease with computers. Before long, she had tracked down Bob’s email accounts and figured out the passwords.

Robert Levinson

Robert Levinson

As she walked through the record of his life, she learned a secret that Dave, Ira, and Chris already knew: the explanation that U.S. government officials were giving out publicly to explain Bob’s reason for visiting Iran wasn’t true, at least not the part that really mattered.

Since the investigator’s disappearance, there had been reported sightings of him in Tehran’s Evin Prison, the notorious jail where political dissidents are tortured or killed. Some tipsters had come forward to claim that the Revolutionary Guards, the elite military force aligned with Iran’s Islamic religious leaders, were holding him at a secret detention center. His family had made public pleas for information about him, and the FBI had assigned agents to the search.

But the hunt for the missing man had gone nowhere.

Ira’s call was about an email he had gotten earlier that Saturday containing a message that read like a ransom note. He had received similar emails before and had passed them on to the FBI. But this one
wasn’t like the others. This email had a file attached to it. Ira told Sonya he couldn’t figure out how to open the attachment and was forwarding it to her to see if she could.

The email read:

This is a serious message

Until this time we have prepared a good situation for Bob and he is in good health. we announce for the last ultimatum that his life is based on and related to you You should pay 3000000$ (in cash) and release our friends: Salem Mohamad Ahmad Ghasem, Ahmad Ali Alarzagh, Ebrahim Ali Ahmad.

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FBI Investigates Death of Texas Mother Who Apparently Tumbled Off Cruise Ship

A Carnival Cruise boat.

A Carnival Cruise boat.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is helping investigate the death of a Texas mother who apparently tumbled off a Carnival Cruise ship traveling from Galveston to Cozumel, Mexico.

The Houston Chronicle reports that Samantha Broberg, 33, of Arlington, was lost at sea and her body has yet to be discovered.

“We are coordinating with Carnival to do a complete and thorough investigation,” said Special Agent Shauna Dunlap, of the FBI Houston Division. “Until that investigation is complete, I can’t comment further.”

Broberg was a mother of four.

Surveillance footage shows that Broberg fell backward off the deck late Thursday night.

FBI Director Pledges to Reverse Trend of Fewer Minority Agents

FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The number of minority FBI agents continues to decline, but bureau Director James Comey pledged to reverse that trend.

Politico reports that 581 African American agents worked at the FBI as of March, down from 606 at the end of 2014.

The number of Latino agents also declined to 882 from 916 in 2014.

“Too early to say whether we’re going to be able to change the inflection of the line. Lots going on in the FBI to try and change that. I’ll probably have a better sense at the end of this year, as to whether we’re seeing a change,” Comey said. “Anecdotally I feel, change in that area, change in the people who are expressing interest. … I don’t know whether that’s our reference or the show Quantico? More to come at the end of the year. I think both are possible.”

Rev. Sharpton: FBI Director Was Wrong to Suggest Public Stop Recording Police

camera policeBy Rev. Al Sharpton
for Huffington Post

Last week a federal grand jury indicted officer Michael Slager, who shot and killed Walter Scott in South Carolina, on several charges including violating civil rights laws. During that same week, FBI director James Comey came out with more shocking statements claiming videos are somehow stifling police officers from doing their job and may lead to homicide rates and crime increasing. If Walter Scott’s tragic death were not caught on videotape, officer Slager likely would have never been charged and his family may have never known the truth. Reducing crime and keeping communities safe is what we all want, but if we are to ever separate good cops from the bad ones and reform policing in this country, we must push for more videotaped evidence and transparency (as a start), and not blame videos. New technology should be embraced instead of scapegoated.

While homicide rates have increased in certain places, in cities like New York and many others, they have gone down. There is no conclusive evidence as to what is either causing or decreasing these rates, and definitely no evidence of a so-called ‘Ferguson effect’. For the director of the FBI to even insinuate that such a thing exists is irresponsible, dangerous and unacceptable. Secondly, videotaping police misconduct is adding to the enforcement of law, not taking away from it because police misconduct is in fact a crime. How can anyone say that citizens should not videotape crime and it be used against alleged criminals? When security and surveillance cameras are everywhere in order to catch the bad guys, we should utilize cell phone videos to do the same – even if those bad guys happen to be wearing a police uniform.

To read more click here. 

Trump’s Friend, Ex-Butler Unfazed by Secret Service Probe of Threats Against President

Donald Trump and former butler Anthony Senecal.

Donald Trump and former butler Anthony Senecal.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump’s friend and personal butler for nearly two decades didn’t change his tone after the Secret Service questioned him about death threats he appeared to make toward President Obama.

“I think they wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to go in there with a rifle,” Senecal told The Martinsburg Journal . “I told them it was too far to drive. I lived in Washington and hated it. I’m glad I got the hell out of there.”

Senecal previously said Obama “needs to be hung for treason.”

But now he says that he doesn’t want to kill the president himself, but he hopes someone else does.

“I think it should have been done by the military in the first term—they still have a chance to do it,” he said.

Texas Businessman Takes Case Against FBI to Supreme Court

courtroomBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The owner of a trucking company in Texas, where FBI agents used an 18-wheeler without permission and the driver was killed, wants to take his case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Houston Chronicle reports that owner Craig Patty filed a $6.4 million lawsuit for damages following the November 2011 incident, which involved a botched Zetas Cartel sting.

In March, an appeals court dismissed the suit. Now Patty is appealing the case to the Supreme Court.

“The facts of this case are straight out of a Hollywood movie, and yet are completely true and undisputed,” Houston lawyer Andy Vickery states in recent petition to the court.

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