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Charles Lutz: Things Aren’t What They Seem When It Comes to the Forced Retirement of the DEA’s Michele Leonhart

Charles Lutz is a retired DEA Senior Executive. This column was written for ticklethewire.com

Michele Leonhart

By Charles Lutz

Things in Washington are seldom what they seem. The media has portrayed the forced retirement of DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart as the result of agents in Colombia holding parties with prostitutes paid for by Drug Cartels, and the lenient punishments they received. As outrageous as their conduct was, it’s not likely the cause of her untimely departure.

A Congressional Hearing plowed that ground last week, only to discover that the events in Colombia happened long before Michele Leonhart’s tenure as Administrator, and that when it did come to her attention she referred it to DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for investigation. But the OIG said they were too busy and sent it back to DEA to handle. So apparently in conjunction with the FBI, the DEA conducted an investigation and submitted the findings to their Board of Conduct and Deciding Officials to mete out punishments in conformance with Civil Service rules. Congressmen criticized the DEA Administrator for not firing the agents, and seemed astonished to learn that Congress had not given her that authority. Civil Service rules require the heads of agencies keep an arm’s length from the disciplinary process or risk reversal by the Merit System Protection Board. And punishments are based on a formula for disciplinary action across government for similar offenses. So the only charge left standing was that DEA and the FBI neither cooperated fully nor in a timely manner with the OIG while reviewing the investigation.

What has not been mentioned by the media in this context is that Michele Leonhart has been an outspoken critic of marijuana legalization. She even had the audacity to criticize the President at the National Sheriff’s Association convention last year for his comment to The New Yorker Magazine that marijuana is no more harmful than alcohol (a statement that Mr. Obama retracted days later in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper that received little media attention).

Many were surprised that Leonhart had lasted this long. But the media has failed to connect the dots between her stand on marijuana and her forced retirement.

There is no doubt in my mind that the President was determined to use this incident in Colombia as cover to get rid of who he sees as a troublemaker, perhaps encouraged by marijuana legalization campaign financier, and close Obama advisor, George Soros. When the primary charges vanished under the light of a public hearing, embarrassed Congressmen saved face by citing their lack of confidence in the DEA Administrator for her lack of cooperation with the OIG.

And an undeterred Obama cited this same internal squabble within the DOJ, an argument between the DEA and the FBI with the OIG, to single out the DEA Administrator for punishment. Funny thing is the FBI Director didn’t get so much as a reprimand.


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Newly Minted Attorney General Loretta Lynch Weighs in On Baltimore, Condemns Violence

Loretta Lynch

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

On Monday, the same day that she was sworn in as the nation’s 83rd Attorney, Loretta Lynch had to deal with a heavy issue: Rioting in Baltimore.

Lynch issued a statement:

“I condemn the senseless acts of violence by some individuals in Baltimore that have resulted in harm to law enforcement officers, destruction of property and a shattering of the peace in the city of Baltimore. Those who commit violent actions, ostensibly in protest of the death of Freddie Gray, do a disservice to his family, to his loved ones, and to legitimate peaceful protestors who are working to improve their community for all its residents.

“The Department of Justice stands ready to provide any assistance that might be helpful. The Civil Rights Division and the FBI have an ongoing, independent criminal civil rights investigation into the tragic death of Mr. Gray. We will continue our careful and deliberate examination of the facts in the coming days and weeks. The department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services has also been fully engaged in a collaborative review of the Baltimore City Police Department. The department’s Community Relations Service has already been on the ground, and they are sending additional resources as they continue to work with all parties to reduce tensions and promote the safety of the community. And in the coming days, Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division, and Ronald Davis, Director of Community Oriented Policing Services, will be traveling to Baltimore to meet with faith and community leaders, as well as city officials.

“As our investigative process continues, I strongly urge every member of the Baltimore community to adhere to the principles of nonviolence. In the days ahead, I intend to work with leaders throughout Baltimore to ensure that we can protect the security and civil rights of all residents. And I will bring the full resources of the Department of Justice to bear in protecting those under threat, investigating wrongdoing, and securing an end to violence.”


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ICE Agent Fatally Shoots Detroit Man

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — A federal law enforcement agent shot and killed a man Monday on Detroit’s northwest side , WWJ reports.

WWJ reports that the agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), was part of a joint federal task force that was serving an armed robbery warrant in the 9500 block of Evergreen near W. Chicago around 1 p.m.

WWJ reports that Detroit  Police Chief James Craig said the ICE agent, who  shot the man, about 20, was “responding to a threat.” He did not immediately elaborate. It was unclear if the man was armed.

WWJ’s Russ McNamara reported  that Craig was “trying to calm” neighbors at the scene who were demanding answers. Craig promised a thorough investigation.

“Let us do our job. We’ll do it as quick as we can. I don’t want this to be a two, three-month (investigation),” Craig said.

 

 


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Loretta Lynch Sworn In; Becomes the Nation’s 83rd Attorney General

Attorney General Loretta Lynch

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Loretta E. Lynch, the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney, was sworn in Monday by Vice President Joe Biden as the new Attorney General.

Lynch, 55, the first African-American female to hold the post, faced some turbulent waters, and became a political football on Capitol Hill, as high-profile appointees often are. After a lot game playing, the Senate last week finally confirmed the nomination by President Obama. She is the nation’s 83rd attorney general.

In her speech at her confirmation, she said:

 I look out over all of you gathered here today, my overwhelming reaction is one of profound gratitude. I must, of course, thank the President for his faith in me in asking me to lead the department that I love to even greater heights.

Thank you, Mr. Vice President, for your presence and your comments here today, and for your steadfast support and wise counsel throughout the process. I also must thank Senators Schumer and Leahy for their support, over the years and now, and for making the floor of the U.S. Senate a welcoming place for me and my family. And of course, my wonderful family. As you can see, we’re quite a force multiplier!

Many of you have come to know my father through this process. He has been at every hearing and every vote. But he didn’t just start now. I remember looking up as a young Assistant U.S. Attorney starting my first trial and seeing him there – and he came to every one thereafter. He has encouraged me in all things, even when my choices were not the ones he would have made for me. In that, he has been the best of fathers. Without him, I would not be here today, being sworn in as the 83rd Attorney General of the United States, just one week after his 83rd birthday.

And my mother, who could not be here today but is never far from my thoughts or my heart. She grew up in a world where she was always told what she could not do or could not be, but always knew in her heart that she could soar. She did what would have seemed impossible in the small North Carolina town of her youth. She raised a daughter whom she always told, whatever the dream, whether lawyer, prosecutor or even Attorney General, “of course you can.”

I must also thank my wonderful husband, who has supported all of my choices and my dreams. I would not trade his love and support for all the riches in the world – because to me, they are all the riches in the world.

 


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FBI Investigating Potential Terrorist Threat to U.S. Following Information Gathering

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is investigating a potential terrorist threat that targets the U.S.

The FBI made the discovery while intercepting chatter and gathering other intelligence information, CNN reports.

It’s unclear how serious the threat was or what it involved. One U.S. official said the threat involved parts of California, which has stepped up security.

Homeland Security declined to comment on the case and would only speak in general.

“Over the last few months, we have made a number of security adjustments, including enhanced screening at select overseas airports and increasing random searches of passengers and carry-on luggage on flights inbound to the U.S., reflecting an evolving threat picture,” the spokesman said.


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New York Times: FBI’s Junk Science Leads to Wrongful Convictions, More Questions

By Editorial Board
New York Times

The odds were 10-million-to-one, the prosecution said, against hair strands found at the scene of a 1978 murder of a Washington, D.C., taxi driver belonging to anyone but Santae Tribble. Based largely on this compelling statistic, drawn from the testimony of an analyst with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mr. Tribble, 17 at the time, was convicted of the crime and sentenced to 20 years to life.

But the hair did not belong to Mr. Tribble. Some of it wasn’t even human. In 2012, a judge vacated Mr. Tribble’s conviction and dismissed the charges against him when DNA testing showed there was no match between the hair samples, and that one strand had come from a dog.

Mr. Tribble’s case — along with the exoneration of two other men who served decades in prison based on faulty hair-sample analysis — spurred the F.B.I. to conduct a sweeping post-conviction review of 2,500 cases in which its hair-sample lab reported a match.

The preliminary results of that review, which Spencer Hsu of The Washington Post reported last week, are breathtaking: out of 268 criminal cases nationwide between 1985 and 1999, the bureau’s “elite” forensic hair-sample analysts testified wrongly in favor of the prosecution, in 257, or 96 percent of the time. Thirty-two defendants in those cases were sentenced to death; 14 have since been executed or died in prison.

The agency is continuing to review the rest of the cases from the pre-DNA era. The Justice Department is working with the Innocence Project and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers to notify the defendants in those cases that they may have grounds for an appeal. It cannot, however, address the thousands of additional cases where potentially flawed testimony came from one of the 500 to 1,000 state or local analysts trained by the F.B.I. Peter Neufeld, co-founder of the Innocence Project, rightly called this a “complete disaster.”

To read more click here. 


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Sniper Rifle Stolen from FBI Agent’s Car in Utah Just Days Before President Obama Visits

Pres. Obama at state of the union/white house photo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Just days before President Obama was to visit Utah, an FBI agent’s sniper rifle was stolen from his car in Salt Lake City hotel, International Business Times reports. 

Police said the rifle was stolen from the agent’s parked car, where it was stored and properly locked down in a hard case.

“The rifle had been secured properly,” Salt Lake City Police Detective Dennis McGowan told KSTU-TV. “A couple of padlocks, chains, it was attached to a truck safe. There are all kinds of ways the weapon was secure. Yet someone was able to forcefully take the weapon.”

The Secret Service was made aware of the theft.

The agent’s window was broken.

“I observed the rear right passenger window was shattered and the window frame was pulled out, hanging from the door,” the police report states, according to KSTU-TV. “[The agent] stated his FBI issued sniper rifle was missing, which was in a hard rifle case along with some gear bags, backpacks, clothing and tools.” The stolen FBI rifle has yet to be found.

“We have not recovered the weapon, and we have not identified the person who has taken it yet,” McGowan told KSTU-TV.

 


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Watch Outgoing AG Eric Holder Bid Farewell to Justice Department

FBI Director Eric Holder bid a heartfelt farewell to the Justice Department on Friday as he stepped aside for his successor.

Holder served as the top law enforcement leader for the past six years.

Loretta Lynch is replacing Holder after she was finally confirmed by the Senate.

“I am proud of you. I’m going to miss you. I am going to miss this building. I am going to miss this institution. More than anything, I am going to miss you all,” Holder told the large crowd that had amassed.

 


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