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Archive for August 1st, 2011

Column: Note to Joe Biden — Give Secret Service Back the $13,000

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

What better way to show gratitude to the folks who protect your life than to charge them so they can protect your life?

Makes sense?  No!

I don’t want to make a big deal out of this. After all,  when you take into account the real costs of providing executive protection, this is small potatoes.

Nonetheless, I have a message to Vice President Joe Biden: Give the Secret Service back  the $13,000 it paid you. The Regular Joe, the Average Joe, the guy who rides the train and talks about Scranton, Pa., the Joe we thought we knew, would never take that money. He would get it.

In case you missed it, The Associated Press reported that the U.S. Secret Service, which protects Biden, is paying Biden $2,200 a month to rent a cottage next to his suburban Wilimington, Del., home.

Records show Biden has collected more than $13,000 since April on the cottage, and is eligible to collect up to $66,000 before the contract expires in 2013.

It’s not a lot of money. But heck, Joe, the deficit sucks and it sure would be nice if you’d make a symbolic gesture and give back the money.

Show us there’s still a little decency and common sense left in Washington.

Blago Sentencing Set for Oct. 6

Blagojevich as governor/state photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Oct. 6 won’t be a pretty day.

That’s the day U.S. District Judge James Zagel of Chicago has set for sentencing for the ever-chatty ex-Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich, according to court records.

In his retrial, Blago was convicted of 17 or 20 counts. He alos faces sentencing for the one count he was convicted of his first trial — laying to the FBI.

At a hearing on Monday Monday’s court hearing, the judge indicated he wasn’t impressed with Blagojevich’s attorneys 158-page filing seeking a new trial. The Chicago Tribune reported that the judge said:

“There doesn’t seem to be anything new,” he said.

Sheldon Sorosky, one of Blagojevich’s attorneys, hinted outside of court the defense at sentencing would raise Blago’s contributions to the state and the fact two daughters depend on him.

“He cared for the ordinary guy,” Sorosky said, according to the Trib.

DEA Helps Mexicans Capture Ex-Cop Suspected in 1,500 Killings

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

With the help of information from the DEA, authorities in Mexico have captured a former cop-turned drug gang chieftan allegedly responsible for ordering the killings of 1,500 people, the Associated Press reported.

Authorities said Jose Antonio Acosta Hernandez is also a suspect in last year’s slaying of a U.S. consulate employee near a border crossing in Ciudad Juarez, AP reported.

AP reported that “Mexican President Felipe Calderon said through his Twitter account that Acosta’s capture is ‘the biggest blow’ to organized crime in Ciudad Juarez since he sent about 5,000 federal police to the city in April 2010 to try to curb violence in one of the world’s most dangerous cities.”

Authorities said Acosta, 33, was caught Friday in the northern city of Chihuahua along with his bodyguard.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Column: The Feds Leak Investigation: Probe or Payback?

By Len Levitt
NYPD Confidential

The Justice Department’s bullseye on the FBI and NYPD via a grand jury probe into leaks in terrorism cases appears to have been prompted a year ago by a news story about an Al Qaeda mastermind, sources said.

The story was an Associated Press exclusive from Washington about the impending indictment of Adnan Shukrijumah, who had recruited Najibullah Zazi and his Flushing High School pals to blow up New York subways in 2009.

The indictment of the fugitive Shukrijumah, in New York’s Eastern District, linked the Zazi subway plot to another Al Qaeda terrorist plot in Manchester, England.

But the AP published its story before Shukrijumah’s indictment was announced.

The story forced law enforcement officials overseas — in Norway, of all places — to scramble and speed the arrests of two suspects in Oslo. The pair had been under surveillance for a year.

To read more click here.

Judge Lets Justice Correct Anthrax Filing that Created PR Mess

One of the real anthrax letters in 2001/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A federal judge has allowed the Justice Department to correct a court filing that created an embarrassment and public relations goof for the agency in the anthrax case.

ProPublica reported Friday that U.S. District Judge David Hurley of West Palm Beach, Fla., gave the ok to the government to withdraw a court filing that mistakenly said that the late scientist Bruce Ivins did not have access to “specialized equipment” to make the deadly anthrax, when in fact he did.

The revised filing says Ivins had access to a refrigerator-sized machine known as a lyophilizer, which can be used to dry solutions such as anthrax, ProPublica reported.

The filings were in response to a lawsuit filed by the wife of National Enquirer photo editor Robert Stevens, who died as a result of an anthrax mailing. She contends the government did not do enough to protect the anthrax supplies from being used against citizens.

The erroneous filing created a stir in the media, which printed stories saying the Justice Department had undermined its own claim that Ivins was to blame for the attacks. Ivins committed suicide in July 2008 before authorities could file criminal charges against him.

The erroneous filing provided more fodder for critics who are skeptical that Ivins was in fact the one who mailed the letters.

Say it Ain’t So Joe: VP Biden Charging Secret Service for Rent

govt photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Under the category of: Mmmmmm. Something doesn’t seem right.

The Associated Press reports that the U.S. Secret Service, which protects  VP Joe Biden,  is paying Biden $2,200 a month to rent a cottage next to his suburban Wilimington, Del., home.

Records show Biden has collected more than $13,000 since April on the cottage, and is eligible to collect up to $66,000 before the contract expires in 2013, AP reported.

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan told the Washington Times:  “It’s a rental property so we pay rent there.”

Citizens Against Government Waste’s Leslie Paige said you would think with Biden so deeply involved in the deficit talks that he would think twice about charging the government agency, AP reported.

Yes, you would think.

Column: New Orlean’s U.S. Atty. Jim Letten Speaks of Diversity and the Arab-Muslim Community

U.S. Atty Jim Letten/gov photo

By Jim Letten, U.S. Attorney
New Orleans Times-Picayune Op-Ed Page

NEW ORLEANS — As we approach the 10th anniversary of the tragic Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and continue to defend against those who wage their vicious campaigns against us and our freedoms, it is essential that we look forward.

That is not to say that we need not remain ever more vigilant by fiercely, courageously and intelligently defending this great nation. It does mean, however, that our uniquely American way of life and our freedoms must be preserved as well — intact and for all who lawfully and in good faith embrace it and seek its protection and freedoms.

I write this piece as an American and as U.S. attorney — and to fulfill a promise I readily made to our friends and neighbors in our local Arab-Muslim community. I can proudly say that the citizens here in Southeast Louisiana have displayed the best of the American spirit in the tolerant, highly diverse gumbo of cultures that is quintessentially reflective of America as a whole.

But even in the greatest country in the world, assimilation can often be difficult and fraught with challenges. Nowhere has that cultural blending been tested more than with our Arab-Muslim neighbors. The consequences of an ongoing global war that we and our allies have waged against terrorists have at times included a backlash often directed against Arab and Muslim Americans.

To read full column click here.

Authorities to Add Ted Bundy’s DNA to FBI Database

fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Florida authorities are working to add serial killer Ted Bundy’s DNA profile to the FBI’s national database by mid-August, a move that could help detectives in Tacoma, Wash., determine if Bundy was responsible for the abduction of 8-year-old girl Ann Marie Burr in 1961, The News Tribune reported

The paper reported that Tacoma detectives hope to compare the DNA to evidence that was never analyzed. Authorities say it could also help solve other murders.

“From a historical standpoint, there is this belief that Ted Bundy could be responsible,” said detective Gene Miller, who leads the Tacoma Police Department’s cold case unit, told the Tacoma paper.

The paper reported that it took years for authorities to come up with a complete DNA profile of Bundy.

To read more click here.