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Tag: sen. charles grassley

Sen. Grassley Demands Answers About an Undercover FBI Agent Accused of Spending Taxpayer $$ for Prostitutes in Philippines in Gun Trafficking Sting

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A controversy over allegations that a California undercover FBI agent paid for prostitutes for himself and targets of a gun trafficking sting in the Philippines seems to be picking up some steam.

The latest: Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ia.) fired off a letter to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller on Wednesday demanding answers.

Ticklethewire.com was first to report on the allegations that were made by John Littrell, a deputy Federal Defender in Southern California. The office filed a motion in Los Angeles District Court on Sept. 17 asking the judge to dismiss the gun trafficking case against three defendants because of egregious governmental misconduct.

The office alleged that the the agent paid for prostitutes for himself and the three defendants, and that one brothel was raided by Philippine authorities who found underaged girls and signs of sex trafficking.

 

In his letter Grassley wrote:

 In light of this information, I ask that you provide a briefing to my staff on this issue as soon as possible. I also request that you come prepared to answer the following questions:

1) Of the $14,500 requested by the undercover agent for reimbursement, how much was the agent actually reimbursed by the FBI?

2) Was the undercover FBI agent the case agent for this weapons-trafficking investigation? If not, did the case agent authorize the expenses at the brothels in this undercover operation?

Sen. Grassley/official photo

3) Did any other U.S. law enforcement or embassy personnel visit these brothels with the undercover FBI agent? Please list each agency, the number of employees involved, each individual’s role, and whether they were a recipient of the services for which reimbursement was requested of the FBI.

4) Was any of the activity for which reimbursement was requested recorded by wire or video surveillance? If so, which activity? Please provide all recordings.

5) What other U.S. law enforcement or embassy personnel participated in the Philippines in the overall weapons-trafficking investigation? Please list each agency, the number of employees involved, and their role.

6) Was the first-line supervisor of the undercover FBI agent and/or case agent aware of the undercover agent’s visits to brothels? What other supervisors were informed?

7) When and how did FBI headquarters become aware of these allegations against this FBI agent working in the Philippines?

*What actions were taken by FBI headquarters to investigate these allegations?

9) Has discipline been proposed for any FBI employees (agents or other personnel) in connection with this? If so, please describe the circumstances and procedural standing of the proposed discipline.

10)When did FBI supervisors become aware that minors may have been involved at these brothels?

Read more »

What the Heck is Going on With ATF and Fed Prosecutors in Reno?

U.S. Attorney Dan Bogden

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
What the heck is going on in Reno, Nevada?

The Reno-Gazette Journal reports that the U.S. Attorney there have refused for nearly the past year to take any case submitted by ATF.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said the dispute has forced the transfer of four full-time agents from the Reno, according to the paper.

The paper reported that a Sept. 29, 2011 directive from the U.S. Attorney’s Office said :”We are not accepting any cases submitted by your office.”

The paper said the assistant U.S. Attorney and the U.S. Attorney Dan Bogden did not respond for comment.

To read more click here. 

What the Heck is Going on With ATF and Fed Prosecutors in Reno?

U.S. Attorney Dan Bogden

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
What the heck is going on in Reno, Nevada?

The Reno-Gazette Journal reports that the U.S. Attorney there have refused for nearly the past year to take any case submitted by ATF.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said the dispute has forced the transfer of four full-time agents from the Reno, according to the paper.

The paper reported that a Sept. 29, 2011 directive from the U.S. Attorney’s Office said :”We are not accepting any cases submitted by your office.”

The paper said the assistant U.S. Attorney and the U.S. Attorney Dan Bogden did not respond for comment.

To read more click here. 

STORIES OF OTHER INTEREST

 

Justice Dept. Admits “Inaccuracies” in Letter Regarding ATF’s Fast and Furious

atf file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The controversy over the Justice Department and what it knew about ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious seems to be going on and on and on.

The latest: The Wall Street Journal’s Evan Perez reports that the “Justice Department on Friday formally withdrew a February letter about its tactics in investigating gun trafficking, acknowledging in response to congressional criticism that it contained ‘inaccuracies.'”

At issue was a letter to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Ia.) from the Justice Department which said the Justice Department made “every effort to interdict weapons and prevent their transportation to Mexico,” according to the Journal.

Problem was that really wasn’t true when it came to ATF’s failed Operation Fast and Furious.

Under the operation,  ATF  was letting guns walk, so to speak, by encouraging gun dealers in Arizona to sell to straw purchasers, all with the hopes of letting the guns into Mexico so agents could trace them to the drug cartels. In other words, agents were not interdicting the guns as the Justice Department suggested.

In fact, agents lost track of many weapons, some which surfaced at crime scenes on both sides of border. Two of those weapons surfaced at the crime scene where Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was killed last year.

The Journal reported that the Justice Department blamed lower level employees at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona and at ATF for providing the inaccurate information.

 

Issa-Grassley Want to Know Who Leaked Sensitive Info About ATF Whistleblower

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The mud in the controversy over ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious continued to get a good stirring this week.

The latest: Sen. Charles Grassley and Rep. Darrell Issa have fired off a letter to Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. in an effort to determine who in the Justice Department may have leaked sensitive information to the media about an ATF whistleblower, the website Main Justice reported.

The Republican duo, who have spearheaded the probe into the faulty operation, want to know who had access to a document pertaining to whistleblower’s role in an undercover operation, Main Justice reported.

“This leaked document was also accompanied by a set of talking points designed to undermine agent Dodson’s credibiilty as a whistleblower,” the letter said, according to Main Justice.

 

Rep. Issa Presses Atty. Gen. Holder Over Shooting of ICE Agent in Mexico


Jamie Zapata/ticklethewire.com photo of ICE video at IACP

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Two Congressional members are pressing Attorney Gen. Eric Holder Jr. for more information relating to the shooting death of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaimes Zapata, who was gunned down in Mexico in February by a drug cartel known as Los Zetas. Another agent was wounded in the incident.

In a letter to Holder dated Oct. 25, Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Charles Grassley complained that they tried to get answers but failed.

“On October 11, your Department (DOJ) sent Senator Grassley a letter regarding murdered Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agent Jaime Zapata,” the letter stated.”Not only was the response more than six months late, it completely failed to answer the key questions.”

In March of this year, ATF announced that Mexican authorities had recovered three guns used in the ICE agent’s slaying — one of which was tied to suspected gun trafficker Otilio Osorio. He and his brother Ranferi Osorio, 27, were arrested in March at their home in Lancaster, Tex. on charges of possessing firearms with obliterated serial numbers

Authorities alleged that Osorio purchased the firearm used in the ICE agent’s slaying last Oct. 10 in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. ATF said ballistic testing conducted by Mexican authorities linked the weapon to Zapata’s death. In a separate criminal complaint, authorities arrested Kelvin Leon Morrison, 25, who lived next door to the Osorio brothers, on charges of knowingly making false statements in connection with the acquisition of firearms and dealing in firearms without a license.

The letter to Holder, the Issa and Grassley went on to say: “In a March 1, 2011, press release, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) stated it was unaware of Otilio Osorio’s purchase on October 10, 2010, of the weapon used to murder Agent Zapata.’

“According to ATF documents, however, the agency had reason to believe as early as September 17, 2010, that Otilio’s brother and co-habitant Ranferi Osorio and their next-door neighbor Kelvin Morrison were straw purchasers. Yet the ATF apparently made no effort to contact Ranferi Osorio or Kelvin Morrison and inquire about how their weapons came to be trafficked to Mexico within 2 weeks of their purchase.”

The letter went on to say that ATF could have arrested the Osorio brothers and Kelvin Morrison during a staged operation on November 9, 2010, but did not. The letter asks Holder what and when the Justice Department knew of these gun runners.

 

Sen. Grassley Says FBI/Justice Dept.’s Resistance Likely to Stifle Re-examination of Deadly Anthrax Case

Anthrax Suspect Bruce Ivins

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

You needn’t go to the oddsmakers in Vegas to predict whether the anthrax case will be reopened for a fresh examination.

Just ask Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ia.).

Grassley, one of several politicians who have been skeptical of the FBI findings that government scientist Bruce Ivins sent the letters, said it would take a powerful grassroots movement or startling new evidence to reopen the probe, according to an article authored by Greg Gordon of McClatchy Newspapers, Stephen Engelberg of ProPublica and Mike Wiser of PBS’ Frontline.

The FBI and the Justice Department have insisted that Ivins was the culprit, citing a collection of facts and circumstances. Ivins committed suicide in July 2008, shortly before the feds planned to charge him in the 2001 mailings that killed five and sickened 17 others.

Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee,  said in the article that adamant opposition from the FBI and Justice Department is likely to block further inquiry

Even if he were the committee chairman, Grassley said,  according to the article:  “I would question my capability of raising enough heat (to reopen the case) when you’re up against the FBI. And I’ve been up against the FBI.”

His comments came after  PBS’ Frontline, McClatchy and ProPublica, in a joint investigation, cited evidence in a lengthy article that challenged some of the government’s scientific and circumstantial evidence.

To read more click here.

Big Management Shakeup Coming at ATF

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

With acting ATF Director B. Todd Jones in place, and the new fiscal year beginning, rumors are swirling about that ATF is soon expected to make a lot of changes in top management, which will result in a serious round of musical chairs.

One rumor circulating within ATF is that Thomas E. Brandon, who had just recently moved from Detroit to Phoenix to help clean up the mess in wake of the disastrous Operation Fast and Furious, will be headed to Washington to take on a senior leadership role.

Agents around the country have told tickethewire.com that Brandon has the respect of fellow agents.

The changes come as the scandal surrounding Operation Fast and Furious unravels. The poorly executed operation encouraged Arizona firearms dealers to sell to questionable straw purchasers, all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels. ATF lost track of some weapons, and some surfaced at crimes scenes on both sides of the border.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)  and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ia.)  have  been investigating the fall out from  Operation Fast and Furious and have been raising questions about ATF’s leadership.

In the midst of their probe,  ATF acting director Ken Melson stepped down to head over to a post at the Justice Department. In stepped Jones, who has kept his post as U.S. Attorney in Minnesota.

The White House had nominated Andrew Traver, head of the ATF’s Chicago office, to become the new director. But his confirmation process got stalled, and the NRA put up a strong fight against him.

At this point, it appears likely Traver’s nomination will simply die out of concern that he can’t get confirmed.

As for seating a permanent director at this point? It’s not likely that the Obama administration will spend its political capital trying to get any director confirmed before the election in November 2012.

Rumors have also been circulating that the Justice Department wants to fold ATF into the FBI, but a federal source said that won’t happen.

The Examiner.com reported last week that there were rumors of  ”a possible big shake up” at ATF,   but gave no specifics.