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Archive for October 31st, 2016

Ambrose: FBI DirectorJames Comey – Camouflage of the Chameleon

Charles Ambrose is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, a former USAF JAG officer and served for 25  years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in D.C. and the Western District of Missouri. He is the author of the Jeff Trask crime dramas, writing under the name Marc Rainer. His newest novel in the series, A Winter of Wolves.

FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey

By Chuck Ambrose

The announcement Friday by FBI Director James Comey that he was re-opening the investigation into the Hillary Clinton email scandal has most of the nation wondering what led to this change of status, and the timing of his announcement. Before joining that guesswork, a review of what brought us to this point is appropriate.

In July, Comey took the highly unusual step of publicly castigating Clinton before announcing that he would recommend against any prosecution. His legal “analysis” of the proof against Clinton was also highly unusual.

First, there were the facts of the investigation as summarized by Comey himself. These facts included the intentional establishment of an unauthorized server in the Clinton residence, the repeated sending and receipt of highly classified matters, the former secretary’s repeated lying about her actions and the nature of the emails, and her attempts to destroy the evidence against her. Proof of intent is generally established by evaluating the actions of the suspect, including false statements and the destruction of evidence. Nevertheless, Comey initially decided that there was insufficient evidence in all of that to show any criminal intent.

After ignoring evidence which would have met the intent prong of the statute, Mr. Comey essentially wrote subsection (f) (the gross negligence section) out of the applicable statute. The Director’s explanation that he had worked all his life to “decriminalize negligence” and thereby would not recommend prosecution was nothing short of ridiculous. It should be first noted that Mr. Comey offered no such examples of his “life’s work,” and it is doubtful that there are any.

There has always been prosecution of criminal negligence, and with good reason. Negligent homicide by reckless driving is one common example that should come readily to mind. Intent to kill is not required. The negligent actions taken are so inherently reckless as to endanger human life, and are therefore included in virtually every state and federal criminal code as punishable offenses. It must also be noted that Mrs. Clinton’s unguarded emails may have similarly resulted in at least one death—that of an Iranian scientist who was executed by Iran as a spy after his name surfaced in one of the emails on Clinton’s unprotected private server.

Chuck Ambrose

Chuck Ambrose

Comey’s recommendation against indictment in the Clinton case was—to some extent—a delusion of grandeur, since it presumed that any contrary  recommendation would have been given serious consideration by the Obama/Holder/Lynch Department of “Justice.” The FBI cannot convene a grand jury or seek an indictment without the approval of DOJ, and in cases involving high-level officials such as the former Secretary of State, such approval is generally reserved to the Attorney General herself or her designee. Given Ms. Lynch’s infamous tarmac tryst with the husband of the target of this investigation, indictment was never really in the cards.

In fact, even the empanelment of a grand jury in this matter was never in the cards. Ever since the Supreme Court’s decision in the Nixon Watergate case, it has been established that executive privilege cannot be successfully used as a shield against grand jury subpeonae which seek to uncover evidence of criminal wrongdoing. The act of convening a grand jury would therefore have had the effect of exposing even the President—now known to have used an alias to communicate with Clinton on her illegal private server—to the investigation.

Read more »

Australian Study Shows Firearm Reform Law Greatly Reduced Gun-Related Fatalities

No guns sign

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

The Journal of the American Medical Association reported recently about a forty-year study in Australia about the effect on gun-related crime by the 1997 major gun law reform. The study compared the number of mass fatal shooting incidents, rates of fatal shooting incidents, firearm deaths, and firearm-caused suicides for the periods 1979 through 1996 (before the reform) with those of 1997 through 2013 (after the reform).

In 1997, after 13 fatal mass shootings (more than 5 victims) and a high rate of firearm-related fatalities, the federal and state governments in Australia enacted sweeping new gun laws. The triggering event was a massacre in 1996 in which a man used two semi-automatic long guns to kill 35 people and wound 19 others.  Rapid-fire long guns were banned as part of the reform, and the guns were subject to a mandatory buy-back program. Over one million firearms were purchased and destroyed.

The conclusions of the study were that the statute greatly reduced mass shootings, as well as the homicide rate from the use of firearms. In the 20 years since the statue Australia has not suffered a single mass firearm killing. Deaths due to firearms plummeted from 3.6 per 100,000 population to 1.3, by a factor of over 3% decline per year. The rate of firearm suicides declined by a factor of 4.8% annually. The study pointed out that part of the rate of decline on these last two categories may have been due to causes other than the gun reform law.

The study was conducted by two professors from the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney and a psychology professor at Macquarie University, both in Sydney, Australia.

Parker: Australian Study Shows that Firearm Reform Law Greatly Reduced Gun-Related Fatalities

No guns sign

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.

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

The Journal of the American Medical Association reported recently about a forty-year study in Australia about the effect on gun-related crime by the 1997 major gun law reform. The study compared the number of mass fatal shooting incidents, rates of fatal shooting incidents, firearm deaths, and firearm-caused suicides for the periods 1979 through 1996 (before the reform) with those of 1997 through 2013 (after the reform).

In 1997, after 13 fatal mass shootings (more than 5 victims) and a high rate of firearm-related fatalities, the federal and state governments in Australia enacted sweeping new gun laws. The triggering event was a massacre in 1996 in which a man used two semi-automatic long guns to kill 35 people and wound 19 others.  Rapid-fire long guns were banned as part of the reform, and the guns were subject to a mandatory buy-back program. Over one million firearms were purchased and destroyed.

The conclusions of the study were that the statute greatly reduced mass shootings, as well as the homicide rate from the use of firearms. In the 20 years since the statue Australia has not suffered a single mass firearm killing. Deaths due to firearms plummeted from 3.6 per 100,000 population to 1.3, by a factor of over 3% decline per year. The rate of firearm suicides declined by a factor of 4.8% annually. The study pointed out that part of the rate of decline on these last two categories may have been due to causes other than the gun reform law.

The study was conducted by two professors from the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney and a psychology professor at Macquarie University, both in Sydney, Australia.

Federal Authorities with Connections to Lobbyists Failed to Combat Painkiller Abuse

pain medsBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Nearly 19,000 people died of overdoses from prescription painkillers in 2014, and another 10,574 died from heroin.

The Washington Post investigated the interaction between the DEA and pharmaceutical distributors and found a troubling connection.

DEA officials said high-level Justice Department officials who were being heavily lobbied by wholesalers eased aggressive civil enforcement against wholesalers.

Civil case filings against wholesalers fell from 131 in fiscal 2011 to 40 in fiscal 2014.

The Post wrote:

Collectively, 13 companies identified by The Washington Post knew or should have known that hundreds of millions of pills were ending up on the black market, according to court records, DEA documents and legal settlements in administrative ­cases, many of which are being reported here for the first time. Even when they were alerted to suspicious pain clinics or pharmacies by the DEA and their own employees, some distributors ignored the warnings and continued to send drugs.

“Through the whole supply chain, I would venture to say no one was doing their job,” said Joseph T. Rannazzisi, former head of the DEA’s Office of Diversion Control, who led the effort against distributors from 2005 until shortly before his retirement in 2015. “And because no one was doing their job, it just perpetuated the problem. Corporate America let their profits get in the way of public health.”

A review of the DEA’s campaign against distributors reveals the extent of the companies’ role in the diversion of opioids. It shows how drugs intended for millions of legitimate pain patients ended up feeding illegal users’ appetites for prescription narcotics. And it helps explain why there has been little progress in the U.S. opioid epidemic, despite the efforts of public-health and enforcement agencies to stop it.

Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., asked Attorney General Loretta Lynch in a letter to respond to the Post’s findings.

Justice Department Opposed FBI’s Decision to Notify Congress of Clinton Emails

FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department did not want FBI Director James Comey to notify Congress about the discovery of new emails that could be linked to the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server.

But Comey reasoned that it would be best let Congress to know before the election.

“In the end, we decided it was better to keep Congress informed,” an FBI official involved in the process told CNBC.

While the Justice Department didn’t prohibit the FBI from sending the letter, it strongly opposed it, officials familiar with the discussions said.

CNBC wrote:

They cited long-standing policies against disclosing details of investigations that are underway or taking actions that could affect an election, especially in the period leading up to one.

That was especially so, they said, given that FBI agents have not yet analyzed the newly discovered e-mails to see if they contain classified information, the central issue in the investigation of the Clinton private e-mail server.

Comey’s letter said the FBI learned “of the existence of e-mails that appear to be pertinent” to the Clinton investigation, though he added that the FBI “cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant.”

Other Stories of Interest

FBI Obtains Warrant for E-Mails Tied to Clinton Aide Huma Abedin

Huma Abedin, via Wikipedia

Huma Abedin, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has obtained a warrant to review e-mails linked to Hillary Clinton’s longtime aide Huma Abedin.

It’s not yet clear whether the emails are related to the investigation of Clinton’s use of a private server, the USA Today reports. 

As many as thousands of emails are expected to be reviewed by the FBI, which is investigating Abedin’s estranged husband, former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner.

Federal officials said the review could be completed before election day.

Clinton’s campaign said Sunday that neither Clinton nor Abedin had been contacted by the FBI.

Former AG Eric Holder Says FBI Director ‘Negatively Affected Public Trust’

Eric Holder, U.S. attorney general from 2009 to 2015.

Eric Holder, U.S. attorney general from 2009 to 2015.

By Eric Holder
For Washington Post

I began my career in the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section 40 years ago, investigating cases of official corruption. In the years since, I have seen America’s justice system firsthand from nearly every angle — as a prosecutor, judge, attorney in private practice, and attorney general of the United States. I understand the gravity of the work our Justice Department performs every day to defend the security of our nation, protect the American people, uphold the rule of law and be fair.

That is why I am deeply concerned about FBI Director James B. Comey’s decision to write a vague letter to Congress about emails potentially connected to a matter of public, and political, interest. That decision was incorrect. It violated long-standing Justice Department policies and tradition. And it ran counter to guidance that I put in place four years ago laying out the proper way to conduct investigations during an election season. That guidance, which reinforced established policy, is still in effect and applies to the entire Justice Department — including the FBI.

The department has a practice of not commenting on ongoing investigations. Indeed, except in exceptional circumstances, the department will not even acknowledge the existence of an investigation. The department also has a policy of not taking unnecessary action close in time to Election Day that might influence an election’s outcome. These rules have been followed during Republican and Democratic administrations. They aren’t designed to help any particular individual or to serve any political interest. Instead, they are intended to ensure that every investigation proceeds fairly and judiciously; to maintain the public trust in the department’s ability to do its job free of political influence; and to prevent investigations from unfairly or unintentionally casting public suspicion on public officials who have done nothing wrong.

Director Comey broke with these fundamental principles. I fear he has unintentionally and negatively affected public trust in both the Justice Department and the FBI. And he has allowed — again without improper motive — misinformation to be spread by partisans with less pure intentions. Already, we have learned that the importance of the discovery itself may have been overblown. According to the director himself, there is no indication yet that the “newly discovered” emails bear any significance at all. And yet, because of his decision to comment on this development before sufficient facts were known, the public has faced a torrent of conspiracy theories and misrepresentations.

This controversy has its roots in the director’s July decision to hold a news conference announcing his recommendation that the Justice Department bring no charges against Hillary Clinton. Instead of making a private recommendation to the attorney general — consistent with Justice Department policy — he chose to publicly share his professional recommendation, as well as his personal opinions, about the case. That was a stunning breach of protocol. It may set a dangerous precedent for future investigations. It was wrong.

 To read more click here. 

Sen. Harry Reid Accused FBI Director Comey of Trying to Influence Election

Sen. Harry Reid.

Sen. Harry Reid.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid slammed FBI Director James B. Comey for notifying Congress of an investigation into emails that may be related to Hillary Clinton’s private server.

Reid, a Democrat, said Comey may have violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits the use of government resources for political purposes, Reid wrote in a letter to Comey.

Reid also accused Comey of refusing to disclose potential ties between Donald Trump’s campaign and the Russian government.

“The clear double standard established by your actions strongly suggests that your highly selective approach to publicizing information, along with your timing, was intended for the success or failure of a partisan candidate or political group,” Reid wrote.