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Archive for September 5th, 2017

Retired FBI Agent Jerry Webb: The True Teamwork Involved in the Unabomber Case

The author is a former police officer with the Omaha Police Department, who served 22 years in the FBI and was assigned to the Unabom Task Force for two years. The Unabomb case recently garnered national attention with the airing of the Discovery Channel series, “Manhunt Unabomber. ”  Some former agents who worked on the case  claim there are factual errors in the series. Here’s another story that sheds light on the facts of the case.

By Jerry Webb

There is a quote by Vala Afshar I absolutely love:

“We are not a team because we work together.  We are a team because we respect, trust, and care for each other.”

And there you have the FBI in a nutshell.

I had the good fortune to spend two of my 22 years in the FBI on a case where teamwork was absolutely essential to the success of the case.  That would be the 18-yearlong investigation involving 16 bombing incidents which took the lives of three people.  And without the teamwork involving the FBI, ATF, and U.S. Postal Inspection Service in the form of the UNABOM Task Force (UTF), bomb number 17 would have been placed in a U.S. mailbox and sent to another innocent victim.

Ted Kaczynski

Ted Kaczynski

The fact it did not make it to a mailbox was because on April 3, 1996, the campaign of terror conducted by Theodore John Kaczynski was brought to an end by a team of dedicated professionals who descended on a lonely cabin in an isolated corner of Montana.

How they got there is quite a story.  The truth of it deserves to be told.  The truth is a fascinating story of teamwork in action.  Anything less than the truth is an insult to all who were touched by the case, investigators and victims alike.

I would like to say a little about that teamwork which led to the case being brought to a logical conclusion.  I have no intention of reinventing the wheel and talking about the whole case.  That would take a book to explain.  And, in fact, several books have been written about everything which went into the case.  An excellent one would be the one written by SAC Jim Freeman, ASAC Terry Turchie, and SSA Max Noel.

But I would like to just talk a little about what I saw from my single cog on a huge machine, hump-street-Agent perspective.  And I want to mention as many people and events as my 21-year-old memory of the case will allow me to conjure up.

Federal agents at the cabin.

Federal agents at the cabin.

We were encouraged to work with a partner as a team on all of our steps.  Much of the time I worked with Joyce Seymour of ATF who was great.  I covered a bunch of leads with Pat Turtle of our office and I also formed close bonds with Mike Grady of ATF and Paul Wilhelmus of the Postal Inspection service, both just fantastic guys.

Case Would Be Solved

We were lucky on our squad to have John Conway on board with us.  John was the original San Francisco UNABOM case agent and saw the case through to the finish line.  John’s time working UNABOM is measured in decades, not in a few months.  He never lost sight of the fact the case would one day be solved.  Even when he was being encouraged by FBIHQ supervisors to close the case during the six year lull which started when the subject was seen while placing one of the devices in 1987, and the widely circulated composite drawing of an individual in a gray hooded sweatshirt was etched into the collective memory of the nation.  John would have none of that.

The case was going to remain open and the case was going to be solved.

At the height of the task force operation in San Francisco there were around 50 federal investigators assigned to three separate squads.  Some from ATF and some Postal Inspectors.  ATF ASAC Mark Logan and Chief Postal Inspector Don Davis played a large part and sat in on the strategy sessions with both the general UTF meetings held on a regular basis, as well as the upper level management level meetings.

Read more »

Post-Dispatch: Mueller May Find Smoking Gun in Cast of Bad Characters

Robert Mueller, via FBI

Robert Mueller, via FBI

By Editorial Board
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between the Donald Trump presidential campaign and agents of the Russian government has been remarkably discreet, as it should be. But other sources have leaked three names — Michael D. CohenFelix Sater and Eric Schneiderman — that indicate that Mueller’s team is probing very deeply. If there’s a smoking gun to be found, Mueller is getting closer to it.

Cohen is Trump’s longtime lawyer and executive vice president of the Trump Organization. Sater is a childhood friend of Cohen, a former business associate of Trump, and a onetime government informant with ties to all manner of unsavory people, including Russian oligarchs. Schneiderman, at the opposite end of the probity scale, is New York state’s attorney general.

Cohen and Sater are making big blips on Mueller’s radar screen, as well as those of congressional committees looking into possible election collusion. Last week, The New York Times reported that Cohen had written an eight-page letter to the House Intelligence Committee vehemently denying allegations that he was a central figure in contacts between the Trump campaign and agents of the Russian government.

The allegations were made in a controversial dossier compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele. That dossier identified Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary for Russian President Vladimir Putin, as the man in charge of a Kremlin operation to damage Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and promote Trump’s.

To read more click here. 

Justice Department Finds No Evidence That Trump Or His Tower Were Wiretapped

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s claims in March that his predecessor, Barack Obama, wiretapped his phones are not backed by evidence, the Justice Department said in a court filing.

The discovery came in a Freedom of Information case involving the government transparency watchdog, American Oversight, which was seeking information about surveillance of Trump, his New York City tower and his presidential campaign, Bloomberg reports

“Both FBI and NSD confirm that they have no records related to wiretaps as described by the March 4, 2017 tweets,” the Justice Department filing said.

Trump made the bold claim on Twitter, and it appears his source was Breitbart, a conservative media outlet that has become a propaganda tool for the alt-right.

“Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory,” Trump wrote on Twitter. ”Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”

The Justice Department wants the FOIA case to be dismissed since the records don’t exist.

Justice Department to Retry Woman Charged for Laughing During Sessions’ Confirmation Hearing

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department plans to retry a woman who was arrested and charged for laughing during the conformation hearing of Jeff Sessions.

A judge dismissed the original charges against Desiree Fairooz in July, saying “laughter alone was legally insufficient to convict someone of disorderly or disruptive behavior on Capitol grounds, or disrupting Congress.”

Fairooz laughed when Sen. Richard Shelby said Sessions had a “clear and well-documented” record of “treating all Americans equally under the law.” Noting Sessions’ history on civil rights, Fairooz said she laughed because the claims were so ridiculously false.

Fairooz has rejected a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty, so the 61-year-old is headed back to trial, the Advocate reports. 

The judge in the case vacated the conviction but granted a motion for a new trial, which is scheduled to begin Nov. 13.

Other Stories of Interest

Mueller, Congressional Committees Clashing Over Investigations into Russian Meddling

US CapitolBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The special counsel investigation into Russia’s election meddling is beginning to clash with three different congressional probes of the same issue.

CNN reports that special counsel Robert Mueller was blocked from obtaining the Senate Intelligence Committee’s transcript of an interview with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. 

The various congressional committees aren’t sharing a lot of information, and Mueller is keeping lawmakers “out of the loop,” CNN reported.

CNN wrote:

The previously undisclosed fight, described to CNN by multiple sources, underscores the new challenges as congressional committees and Mueller’s operation head into a more intense phase of their parallel — and sometimes, conflicting — investigations into Russian election meddling and any collusion with Trump associates.

There are three committees on Capitol Hill competing for information and witnesses — and there is little, if any, communication among them, even as congressional officials say they all are preparing to intensify the pace of their inquiries this fall. While the Hill investigations into Russia’s meddling have been underway since the beginning of the year, the next few months could be the most consequential in terms of hearing from witnesses and gathering documents, sources say.