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Tag: Montana

Stejskal: Discovery Channel TV Series on Unabomber Disrespects The Investigation’s Achievements

Greg Stejskal served as an FBI agent for 31 years and retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office. Stejskal was the case agent on the UNABOM  bombing that targeted Michigan Prof. James McConnell in 1985, and investigated Kaczynski’s time at Michigan as a grad student.

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

The Discovery Channel TV series, “Manhunt Unabomber,” disrespects achievements of  the “Unabom” investigation by creating a predominantly fictionalized story.

Theodore Kaczynski (FBI photo)

Theodore Kaczynski (FBI photo)

One of the shows I watched in my youth was “The Untouchables.” I was about ten when it premiered in 1959 on TV, and it was one the things that inspired me to want to be a G-man. The first episodes of “The Untouchables” were based on Eliot Ness’ book by the same name that he wrote with Oscar Fraley a sportswriter. (The book was published in 1957 less than a year after Ness’ death.) Those early episodes closely followed the book and were presented as a true story. It is very good story – a crusading lawman puts together a team, a group of incorruptible agents who take on Chicago’s biggest crime lord, the ruthless Al Capone, and topple his empire that was built on the manufacture and sale of beer and liquor during prohibition.

The problem is some of the key parts of the story aren’t true.

The Untouchables didn’t topple Capone. They did raid and destroy some of Capone’s distilleries and breweries. This diminished Capone’s bootleg income and inconvenienced him financially, but it was the IRS agents working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office that toppled Capone. The IRS agents and U.S. attorneys built a strong tax evasion case against Capone independent of Ness and the Untouchables. Capone was convicted of five counts of tax evasion and no violations of the Volstead Act (the illegal manufacture and/or sale of alcohol for consumption). Capone was sentenced to 11 years, most of which he served at Alcatraz off the coast of San Francisco.

Ness Never Met Capone

Unlike the TV series or the subsequent movie, which was even more fictionalized, Ness and Capone never met. There was no dramatic confrontation.

Ness and Fraley in writing the book embellished the truth regarding Ness’ role in the demise of the Capone empire, and the TV series that followed solidified that fiction. Those IRS agents and US attorneys who successfully prosecuted Capone are forgotten. (For the record, the Chicago U.S. attorney who prosecuted Capone was George E.Q. Johnson, and the lead IRS agent was Frank Wilson – lest we forget.)

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That brings me to a series currently running on the Discovery Channel about the “Unabom” investigation. The show makes the usual claim/disclaimer that it’s based on a true story. Unfortunately, it’s more fiction than truth. The series makes a large departure from the truth – it portrays a minor player on the Unabom Task Force (UTF), Jim Fitzgerald, an FBI profiler and forensic linguist,  as the investigator who broke the case and was involved in key aspects of the case. It then builds on that fiction by depicting a relationship between the Unabomber/Ted Kaczynski and Fitzgerald that never happened.

The Unabom (FBI shorthand for University and Airline Bomber) investigation began in 1978 with the first bomb and continued until the Unabomber was identified, arrested and prosecuted in 1998. (The last bombing was in 1995.) The investigation was the longest and most expensive in FBI history. Many people were involved in the investigation from different agencies. Some spent a substantial portion of their careers on the investigation. All kinds of investigative techniques were utilized, huge data bases were built and countless leads were followed only to what seemed to be dead ends.

In the later years, a Unabom Task Force was formed in San Francisco. The lead agency was the FBI, but there were representatives from the U.S. Postal Inspectors and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). San Francisco had been the mailing origin for some of the later bombs, and the San Francisco Chronicle was one of the newspapers that Unabomber had chosen to communicate through with law enforcement.

Finally, the big break came when the Unabomber claimed that he would discontinue his use of bombings to kill if his 35,000-word manifesto were printed in a major newspaper. (He did reserve the right to commit acts of sabotage without targeting people.) It was decided that the publication could lead to identifying the Unabomber, but a major newspaper had to be persuaded to publish it.

Greg Stejskal

Greg Stejskal

The Attorney General, Janet Reno, the then Director of the FBI, Louie Freeh, the San Francisco Special Agent in Charge, Jim Freeman, the Assistant SAC, Terry Turchie and Kathy Puckett, an FBI agent and a member of the UTF with a psychology background (PhD), met with and persuaded the very reluctant editors of the NY Times and the Washington Post to publish the manifesto. It was decided that the Post would publish the manifesto in its entirety, and the newspapers agreed to share the immense cost of the publication. (Jim Fitzgerald had no part in this process.)

Publication Triggers Suspicions

The publication led to David Kaczynski and his wife’s realization that David’s brother, Ted, was probably the Unabomber. (David’s wife had suspected that Ted was the Unabomber for a while.) They reached this conclusion by comparing some of Ted’s early writings with the manifesto.

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Montana Fights to Keep New FBI Office from Closing, Moving to North Dakota

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is urging the FBI to reconsider plans to move a field office from the state to North Dakota.

“When the FBI was looking to set-up an office in the area, Sidney community leaders recognized the importance of having these resources in the area and stepped up to offer space and support to the agents. Now the FBI needs to step-up and recognize the importance of keeping the office in Sidney,” Bullock told the Sidney Herald.

The FBI opened an office in Sidney last year because of a spike in crime from development around the Bakken oil fields.

But now some authorities say the time has come to bring back the agents in North Dakota where they are more needed.

County Attorney in Montana Doesn’t Want DOJ Investigating Handling of Sexual Assault Cases

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

An attorney for Missoula County in Montana is arguing that the Justice Department has no authority to investigate how local authorities handle sexual assault cases, the Associated Press reports.

Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg even went on to say that the county is an unfair target of the DOJ’s.

“For whatever reason we have been kind of picked on by the DOJ, and I honestly think we have a greater responsibility to the country as a whole, to prosecutors in every county in America, to stand up and say, ‘This is wrong, you can’t do this,’” Van Valkenburg told county officials.

The county, Missoula police and the University of Montana campus police came under a federal investigation in May 2012.

Police cooperated and even increased training and changed some policies.

Mexican National Alleges He Was Raped While in Custody of ICE

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Mexican national said he was raped by cellmates in a Montana jail while he was waiting to be deported, the Great Falls Tribune reports.

“I want people to know what happened to me, and I want the people responsible to be punished,” Audemio Orozco-Ramirez, 40, told the Tribune through an interpreter. “I don’t want anyone else to ever have to go through what I went through.”

Orozco-Ramirez also wants his rapists to be identified and tested for STDs.

The Tribune wrote that two of Orozco-Ramirez’s cell mates were listed on the state’s sexual and violent offender database.

Column: Fed Judge Who Circulated Racist Joke Should Resign

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It would come as no shock to find out some Republican appointees to the federal bench are not President Obama’s biggest fans.

Nonetheless, it still comes as a shock that Chief Judge Richard Cebull, who is in his late 60s, who was appointed by George W. Bush to the fed bench in Montana in 2001, would circulate an email with a blatantly racist joke about the President.

Sure Cebull is sorry. He’s apologized to the President personally. He has said that his essential endorsement of the joke wasn’t really about race but rather about his dislike for Obama. And oh yes, he admitted the joke was pretty racist.

Cebull needs to resign from the bench.

In case you haven’t seen the joke, here it is:

“A little boy said to his mother; ‘Mommy, how come I’m black and you’re white?’” the email joke reads. “His mother replied, ‘Don’t even go there Barack! From what I can remember about that party, you’re lucky you don’t bark!’” […]

Judge Richard Cebull/wikipedia

Sure Judge Cebull is sorry. We all do stupid things. But as a friend Daniel Proudfoot commented on ticklethewire.com, the spell has been broken and Cebull “cannot be made whole again.” The trust is gone. I look at this way: If a bank teller steals once, can they ever be trusted again?  The teller will always be suspect.

Let’s be honest.

If you were an African-American, would you trust the judge to be fair and impartial? If  your life literally depended on it, the answer is a big NO!

So the question is: Can we have someone on the federal bench who can only preside over cases with white defendants? Who can only sentence white defendants?

If you thinks that’s a good idea, then by all means, keep him on the bench.

If not, Judge Cebull, needs to retire, sooner than later.

 

Chief Fed Judge Circulates Racist Joke About President Obama

 
 

Judge Richard Cebull/wikipedia

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It’s hard to imagine the chief federal judge in any district being so ignorant as to taint the bench and raise serious questions about the ability to be objective.

Well, meet Chief Judge Richard Cebull, a George W. Bush appointee to the federal bench in  Montana. Apparently he admitted Wednesday, according to press reports, to sending a racist email around that goes like this:

“A little boy said to his mother; ‘Mommy, how come I’m black and you’re white?’” the email joke reads. “His mother replied, ‘Don’t even go there Barack! From what I can remember about that party, you’re lucky you don’t bark!’” […]

The website Think Progress Justice reported that Cebull forwarded the joke from his brother to a half dozen friends and acquaintances.

“The only reason I can explain it to you is I am not a fan of our president, but this goes beyond not being a fan,” Cebull said, according to the website. “I didn’t send it as racist, although that’s what it is. I sent it out because it’s anti-Obama.“

USA Today reported that he sent a formal apology to the President, which said:

“I sincerely and profusely apologize to you and your family for the email I forwarded. I accept full responsibility; I have no one to blame but myself. I can assure you that such action on my part will never happen again. I have requested that the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit review this matter. Honestly, I don’t know what else I can do. Please forgive me and, again, my most sincere apology.”

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) said in a statement: “Chief Judge Richard Cebull’s email was deplorable, shameful and inexcusable. There is no way to shroud hatred under the cloak of differences in ideals. The email was blatantly racist and filled with the hateful rhetoric this country has strived so desperately to leave behind. An apology alone is not acceptable.”

 

 

State Legislator Concerned Over DEA Questioning About Her Over Marijuana

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

A Montana state legislator claims the DEA is investigating her because of her support of medical marijuana laws.

Diane Sands, a Democratic in the State House, told the Missoulian that a possible witness in a DEA investigation into medical marijuana businesses was asked if she was  part of a conspiracy to sell medical marijuana. DEA Agents from Billings, Mont., asked the questions, Sands learned from the witness’ attorney.

Sands has worked on and supported medical marijuana laws in the past.

“So now, if you’re a state legislator who has been working on medical marijuana laws, you are somehow part of a conspiracy,” she said. “It’s ridiculous, of course, but it’s also threatening to think that the federal government is willing to use its influence and try to chill discussion about this subject.”

To ead more click here.

 

Mary F. Rook Named Head of FBI’s Anchorage Office

Mary Rook/fbi photo By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Mary F. Rook, the chief in the FBI’s Training Division’s Law Enforcement Programs Section, will head the Anchorage Division, the agency announced Wednesday.

Rook began her FBI career in the laboratory as a serology technician in 1984. She became a special agent two years later and was assigned to the Milwaukee Division.

In 1990, she transferred to the Los Angeles Division where she investigated Mexican drug trafficking organizations.

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