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Archive for December 11th, 2009

Will Pakistan Arrests in Suspected Terrorist Case Improve FBI-U.S. Muslim Relations?

mosqueBy Allan Lengel
For Sphere.com (An AOL News Site)

WASHINGTON – The arrest of five D.C.-area Muslim young men in Pakistan this week may be a step toward improving the rocky relationship between the American Islamic community and the FBI.

The five men, ages 19 to 25, reportedly tried to join radical jihadists and fight Americans in Afghanistan. They left behind a “farewell” video.

Wednesday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) announced it had assisted the bureau in that Pakistan case after the men’s parents expressed concerns about their children’s whereabouts and activities. CAIR said the parents and members of the Muslim community came to the organization, which contacted the FBI. The young men, who were arrested by Pakistani authorities, have not been charged, but the matter is under FBI investigation.

“I think obviously it’s not a secret there’s been a strained relationship between the American Muslim community and the FBI for a number of reasons including agent provocateurs, mosque surveillance, border profiling and all kinds of things,” Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for CAIR, said on Thursday.

“We hope this case can be a springboard to better relations with the FBI and the American Muslim community.”

For Full Story

Chicago Man Who Videotaped ESPN Reporter Erin Andrews to Plead Guilty in Fed Court

Erin Andrews/ espn photo

Erin Andrews/ espn photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Los Angeles U.S. Attorneys Office has confirmed that a Chicago insurance executive will plead guilty next week in a case in which he secretly recorded nude videos of ESPN reporter Erin Andrews, The Associated Press reported.

AP reported Michael Barrett, 48, will plead guilty on Tuesday.

“Barrett is suspected of renting hotel rooms adjacent to Andrews in three cities last year, altering the peepholes and shooting videos of Andrews in two of the location that were uploaded to the Internet and offered for sale to gossip sites,” AP reported.

“Mr. Barrett accepts full responsibility for his conduct,” Barrett’s attorney David Willingham said, according to AP. “He apologizes to Ms. Andrews, and expresses his deep regret for his conduct that caused her so much pain.”

AP reported that prosecutors will recommend a sentence of 27 months.

Read Plea Agreement

Arrests of Americans Shows Long Arm of Terror

There’s no question there is a terrorism problem in this region. The real question is: Is the U.S. efforts really going to be enough to address the problem?

pakistan-map

By Griff Witte
Washington Post Staff Writer
KABUL -- The arrest in Pakistan of five Americans who authorities say may have been on their way to terrorist training camps highlights the growing internationalism of Pakistani militant groups — both in their aims and their appeal.

The men, who had not been charged as of Thursday night but were being questioned by the FBI, have been connected by Pakistani police to at least two armed Pakistani groups, Jaish-i-Muhammad and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. Both groups have traditionally had local aims but in recent years have increasingly been linked to al-Qaeda, an organization with global reach and aspirations.

Indeed, police officials suggested that the five Americans arrested Tuesday may have been headed to North Waziristan, the rugged tribal land that has become al-Qaeda’s home base. The region is used as a training ground for fighters and as a staging area for attacks against U.S. troops in neighboring Afghanistan.

For Full Story

Evertything Terrorists Need to Know About…Hernias? Dog Bites?

airport-photoBy Allan Lengel
For Sphere.com (An AOL News Site)

WASHINGTON – Terrorists will have new insights into avoiding a hernia, treating animal bites and dealing with Amber Alerts — thanks to the inadvertent disclosure of a 93-page confidential document on airport screening procedures.

The Transportation Security Administration’s Standard Operating Procedures document was posted on a federal procurement site with redacted passages. Apparently online users were able to navigate around the redactions.

That prompted some to insist that terrorists will learn how to avoid screening. The TSA says critics are overreacting, describing the document an “outdated, unclassified version” that has been updated several times.

There are some touchy revelations in the document, i.e. how to detect fake law enforcement identification and discussions about calibrations of X-ray machines.

To Read  some of the secret and really not so secret items (like how to avoid a hernia)  click here.

Camden, NJ Prosecutor Worries About DEA Taking Over Task Force

Prosecutor Warren Faulk/county photo

Prosecutor Warren Faulk/county photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Camden, N.J. in the past has been dubbed the most dangerous city in America.

So it might be seen as good news that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has decided to take over the the Philadelphia-Camden High Intensity Drug Trafficking task force from the local prosecutor.

But the Camden County prosecutor, according to the Philadelphia Daily News, isn’t exactly doing hand stands over the news.

County Prosecutor Warren Faulk told the Philly paper that he’s concerned the DEA will focus only on big cases and ignore street level dealers.

camden-map

“We’re a team player and will do what has to be done and we’ll get the job done,” Faulk told the paper. “But we certainly have concerns about this that we’re going to have to see about.”

“We don’t have thresholds,” Faulk said, “We’ll prosecute anyone.”

To read more click here.

N.C. Carolina Sen. Vows to Delay U.S. Atty Appointment Until 2 Major Probes Are Finished

U.S. Atty. George Holding
U.S. Atty. George Holding

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Heavy handed politics continues to play a role in some of the appointments of U.S. Attorneys around the country.

In North Carolina, Republican Sen. Richard Burr vowed Thursday to delay confirmation of Charlotte lawyer Thomas G. Walker until the current U.S. Attorney George Holding, a Bush appointee, finishes up his probes into ex-Sen. John Edwards and former Gov. Mike Easley, according to the News Observer.

Burr notified President Barack Obama of his decision through the White House counsel’s office, the paper reported. Obama nominated Walker last week.

Swindler Bernie Madoff Adjusting: He’s Finally Among His Own

Bernie Madoff/facebook photo

Bernie Madoff/facebook photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

At first blush it might seem a little surprising that world class swindler Bernie Madoff, who lived a life of luxury only few can ever realize, would adjust so well to prison life at a federal facility in North Carolina.

But when you think about it,  the 71-year-old con man is truly among his own: thieves, folks who have cheated and lied and tried to beat the system.

The Wall Street Journal reports that “he is adjusting to his new life behind rows of gleaming silver razor wire in this small Southern town.”

“Inmate No. 61727-054 shares an unlocked cell at the medium-security prison at Butner Federal Correctional Complex with a younger man named Frank,” the Journal reports. “He wears khaki prison garb and has been spotted walking on an outdoor track. He plays bocce, chess and checkers. He scrubs pots and pans in the prison kitchen.”

Inmates at the facility include Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard and Colombo crime-family boss Carmine Persico.

To Read More click here

Urban Schools Prepare Kids for Life of Crime

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com columnist

This fall someone near and dear to me began a job tutoring and counseling students at an inner-city Detroit high school.

Her daily reports over the dinner table range from disturbing to appalling. Despite the heroic efforts by some of the teachers and students, attending school consists mainly of fighting your way to and from school with limited learning in between.

Her school has been on “lock down” two days this week because of incidents involving firearms. Squabbling among politicians, bureaucrats, teachers, and parents, along with a pathetic state economy and financing system, have insured the escalation of this dismal situation.

This subjective and heartbreaking appraisal by my source was confirmed by the National Assessment of Education Progress test scores which were announced this week.

Detroit students not only scored the lowest in the nation, but the lowest in the 40 year history of the test.

If the scores of the top 10% of the Detroit students were removed from the mix, one could assume that the remainder could have done as well by choosing answers with a dart and dart board.

With only about 25% of the students managing to graduate, two-thirds of the drop-outs end up in either prison or on welfare.

Although Detroit’s test results are notable, an objective examination of more than a dozen other school systems in some of the country’s largest cities demonstrates that Detroit is not alone.

Clearly, the education systems in low income areas deserve an “F” for Failure. They prepare their students for lives of crime, poverty and neglect. The kids and their families pay the highest price but, without a doubt, we all are paying for this under-educated generation.

So what does this depressing news have to do with a law enforcement newsletter? Any police officer can answer that question, and this assessment is demonstrated by sociologists who find a direct link between crime and violence, on the one hand, and poor educational skills on the other.

A cynic might point out the silver lining for law enforcement officers in this pitiful situation by responding, “Job security.” But actually the opposite is true.

Not only will police officers and federal agents suffer the financial hardships of supporting this lost generation like the rest of the working Americans, but more particularly their jobs will be more difficult and dangerous, discouraging and dispiriting.

As the stress levels of law enforcement officers continue to escalate, the resulting toll on their emotional, medical, and social lives, and those of their families, cannot but increase as well.

Where is the outrage to this dismal state of affairs which might lead to serious reform efforts on a community, state and national level? Instead, denial, apathy, and finger pointing rule the day.

At the risk of being overly simplistic, I say we take some of the hundreds of billions we spend training and supporting Iraqis and Afghans and bolstering the military industrial complex and spend some of it on inner city kids who deserve an education other than the one they will get in the criminal justice system.