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Archive for December 9th, 2009

5 D.C. Area Students Arrested in Pakistan

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5 Bank Heists Later, Calif. FBI Still Hunting for the “Geezer Bandit”

"Geezer Bandit"/fbi photo
“Geezer Bandit”/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Five bank robberies and 3 ½ months later, the FBI in San Diego is still hunting for an elusive, elderly mystery man in his 70s dubbed the “Geezer Bandit.”

“It’s unusual for someone this age to be robbing banks,” Darrell Foxworth, an FBI spokesman in San Diego said Wednesday. “Normally our bank robbers are 18 to 45 and male.”

Rail thin, clad in baseball cap and brandishing gun, the man held up his first bank in San Diego County on Aug. 28. Since then, he’s robbed a bank in that county about every two to four weeks, authorities said.

Authorities are taking it all very seriously.

Read more »

Head of D.C. FBI Joseph Persichini Jr. Leaving Under Cloud Involving Test Scandal; 2 Other Top Officials Also Face Scrutiny

Joseph Persichini Jr./fbi photo

Joseph Persichini Jr./fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON – Joseph Persichini Jr., the head of the Washington field office, is retiring this month under a cloud of allegations that he  violated agency rules when taking an open book exam.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that the Office of Professional Responsibility, which conducts ethics investigations, had recommended disciplinary action, but “the appeals process had not run its course by the time Persichini announced his retirement last month.” He is scheduled to step down on Dec. 25.

Andrew Castor/fbi photo

Andrew Castor/fbi photo

The investigation into violation of the test rules also centers around two other high ranking officials in the D.C. FBI office — Keith Bryars, special agent in charge of administration, and Andrew Castor, special agent in charge of the criminal division.

Keith Bryars/fbi photo

Keith Bryars/fbi photo

The story about the scandal was first reported last month by ticklethewire.com.  The names of the agents were not published at the time, but it was reported that three high ranking agents may have received help on the exam from an FBI lawyer, and may have worked together, a clear violation of agency rules.

Persichini last month declined to comment on the scandal, as did Bryars when contacted by ticklethewire.com.  Castor did not return a phone call last month for comment. The Post reported that Persichini, 55,  attended his retirement party on Tuesday, and did not respond to requests for comment.

Calls to Persichini on Wednesday were transferred to Kate Schweit, the FBI spokeswoman, who said “we will be making no comment.” Bryars, when contacted Wednesday, took a number and indicated he would call back. Castor did not  return a phone call for comment.

Read more »

Oooops! Transportation Security Administration Accidentally Reveals Airport Security Secrets

It’s never a good thing when an agency which is part of the Department of Homeland Security — emphasis on Security — makes such a goof. Someone needs to pay closer attention.

oops-art

By Spencer S. Hsu and Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer

WASHINGTON – The Transportation Security Administration inadvertently revealed closely guarded secrets related to airport passenger screening practices when it posted online this spring a document as part of a contract solicitation, the agency confirmed Tuesday.

The 93-page TSA operating manual details procedures for screening passengers and checked baggage, such as technical settings used by X-ray machines and explosives detectors. It also includes pictures of credentials used by members of Congress, CIA employees and federal air marshals, and it identifies 12 countries whose passport holders are automatically subjected to added scrutiny.

TSA officials said that the manual was posted online in a redacted form on a federal procurement Web site, but that the digital redactions were inadequate. They allowed computer users to recover blacked-out passages by copying and pasting them into a new document or an e-mail.

For Full Story

Ebony and GQ Magazines Give Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Major Shout Outs

Holder in GQ (left) and in Ebony
Holder in GQ (left) and in Ebony

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON -- Attorney Gen. Eric Holder Jr. is getting serious shout outs this month in some major magazines –  GQ and Ebony. Not bad.

Ebony, in its December/January issue,  listed Holder as one of the “Ebony Power 150″ along with such notables as Michelle Obama, Bill Cosby, Rev. Al Sharpton, Spike Lee, Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah.

“Here’s to you Mr. Holder,” the magazine wrote “for not biting your tongue and  for speaking up for what’s right. Finally, the Justice Department may actually carry out real justice. Holder has already rolled back the Bush administration’s policies on toture, disparities in sentencing and racial-profiling.”

And in the December GQ, in its “Men of the Year Issue”, Holder has been crowned a “Maverick.” It’s a compliment even if vice presidential Sarah Palin tossed that term around during the 2008 campaign like confetti in a parade.

Holder, as in the Ebony list, is in good company with such big names as President  Barack Obama, Alec Baldwin and Clint Eastwood.

“Inside the foyer of the Justice Department, two photographs grace the wall,” the GQ article says of Holder. “One shows the president, the other the attorney general. Over the years, the pictures have changed, but the change has never been more apparent than now: for the first time in history, both portraits are of young black men.

“The election of of Barack Obama last fall marked a shattering of racial barriers. But in many ways, his selection of Eric Holder as attorney general was an even more powerful symbol. No other federal agency has a more complicated history with race that the DoJ. At times a beacon of hope, enforcing civil rights, the department is also tarnished, as all American law enforcement is tarnished by the intractable problems of police brutality and racial profiling. To see a black man appointed as the nation’s top cop has special resonance in communities of color.

“Over the past ten months, Holder has learned to leverage his power — both actual an symbolic. He has reinvigorated the DoJ’s commitment to civil rights, launching long overdue investigations of banking discrimination, and detainee abuse. But he has also reached far beyond the department, attend a rally in Selma to remember Bloody Sunday and speaking out in Chicago after a surge in youth violence.

“I think it gives confidence to people who have suffered discrimination and injustice to know that they have a champion,” says Valerie Jarrett, one of Obama’s closest advisers. “Eric has walked in their shoes.”