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Archive for October, 2011

FBI Testing Somali Bomber’s DNA, May Match Minnesotan Youth

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The remains of a suicide bomber in Somalia are being tested by the FBI. Some believe the bomber may be one of at least 21 young Somali-American men that in recent years have left Minneapolis to join al-Shabab, the Somali terrorist group, reports the Associated Press.

If tests confirm the deceased to be Abdisalan Hussein Ali, he will be the third Minnesotan to have been involved in a Somali suicide attack. The state is home to the nation’s largest Somali population.

“I don’t understand,” a Minnesota Somali community leader, Nimco Ahmed, told the AP.  ”It’s really really painful to actually see one of the kids who has a bright future ahead of them do this. … It’s a loss for our whole society.”

The suicide attack was carried out Saturday against an African Union base in the capital city of Mogadishu, killing 10, including 2 suicide bombers, according to the AP report.

Al-Shabab claimed over the weekend that the attack was carried out by a Somali-American named Abdisalan Taqabalahullaah. Al-Shabab posted a recording online they said was Taqabalahullaa, and Omar Jamal, first secretary of the Somali mission to the United Nations, said friends of Ali identified the recording as Ali’s voice.

The Anthrax Investigation: The View From the FBI

Michael P. Kortan is the assistant director of Public Affairs for the FBI at headquarters in Washington.

Michael Kortan (left) talking to ex-FBI Dir. Louis Freeh /fbi file photo

By Michael Kortan
N.Y. Times Letter to the Editor

WASHINGTON — I take issue with several points in your Oct. 18 editorial “Who Mailed the Anthrax Letters?”

First, the National Academy of Sciences report concluded that the anthrax in the mailings was consistent with the anthrax produced in Dr. Bruce Ivins’s suite. The report stated, at the same time, that it was not possible to reach a definitive conclusion about the origins of the samples based on science alone. But investigators and prosecutors have long maintained that while science played a significant role, it was the totality of the investigative process that ultimately determined the outcome of the anthrax case.

Further, scientists directly involved in the lengthy investigation into the anthrax mailings — both from within the F.B.I. and outside experts — disagree with the notion that the chemicals in the mailed anthrax suggest more sophisticated manufacturing.

To read the rest click here.

Widow of Anthrax Victim Settles Lawsuit Against Feds

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Maureen Stevens’ legal battle with the feds over the anthrax death of her husband seems to be over.

Reuters reports that the widow of the deceased Florida tabloid photo editor Robert Stevens — one of five people killed in the 2001 anthrax attacks in the U.S. — has reached a settlement with the government in her wrongful death suit. She had asked for $50 million in damages, but the terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

“The parties have reached a tentative settlement subject to required approval by officials in the Department of Justice,” said a Oct. 27 document filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in West Palm Beach, according to Reuters.

Maureen Stevens had filed the suit in 2003, saying the government was negligent by failing to secure the anthrax used in the attacks.

The government eventually concluded that government scientist Bruce Ivins had sent the deadly anthrax. Ivins committed suicide in July 2008, just before the feds planned to charge him in the case.

Some scientists and Congressional members have questioned whether Ivins was really the culprit, but the Justice Department and the FBI have insisted the evidence as whole is overwhelming.

The Examiner Editorial: On FOIA, Obama Wants a License to Lie

By The Examiner
Editorial Page

It’s not often that the liberal American Civil Liberties Union and conservative Judicial Watch agree on anything, but the Obama administration’s lack of transparency has brought the two together.

Obama’s Justice Department has proposed a regulatory change that would weaken the Freedom of Information Act. Under the new rules, the government could falsely respond to those who file FOIA requests that a document does not exist if it pertains to an ongoing criminal investigation, concerns a terrorist organization, or a counterintelligence operation involving a foreign nation.

There are two problems with the Obama proposal to allow federal officials to affirmatively assert that a requested document doesn’t exist when it does. First, by not citing a specific exemption allowed under the FOIA as grounds for denying a request, the proposal would cut off a requestor from appealing to the courts.

To read more click here. 

 

FBI Releases Some Gems; Videos, Photos, Documents of Probe into Russian Spy Ring

Russian spy Christopher Metsos, right, swaps information in a “brush pass” with an official from the Russian Mission in New York in 2004. The image from a video is part of a trove of documents, photos, and surveillance released by the FBI as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request

 
 
AllanLengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has released some gems; videos, photos and documents relating to the arrests of 10 Russian spies last year.

Along with the materials, the FBI noted that the spy ring was “a chilling reminder that espionage on U.S. soil did not disappear when the Cold War ended. The highly publicized case also offered a rare glimpse into the sensitive world of counterintelligence and the FBI’s efforts to safeguard the nation from those who would steal our vital secrets.”

“Our case against the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) operatives—dubbed Operation Ghost Stories—went on for more than a decade. Today we are releasing dozens of still images, surveillance video clips, and documents related to the investigation as part of a Freedom of Information Act request.”

Spy Anna Chapman meets with undercover agent

WATCH ALL THE VIDEOS

BROWSE PHOTOS 

READ DOCUMENTS

DEA, ICE and Ariz. Police Bust 70 Linked to Cartel That Provides 65% of Drugs to U.S.

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

A major drug bust in Arizona targeted folks linked to a Mexican cartel believed to handle 65 percent of all drugs illegally transported to the United States, and resulted in the seizure of thousands of pounds of narcotics and at least 70 arrests, reports Reuters.

The raids, overseen by the DEA, Arizona state officials, and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the contraband confiscated was “jaw-dropping.”

The operation included three raids conducted over 17 months and led to the arrests of Mexican and American nationals working with a drug cartel based in the Mexican state of Sinaloa.

In what officials called a “sophisticated network” of international drug smuggling, drugs were smuggled from Mexico into Arizona by car, plane, on foot, and through tunnels.

“This is one of the more substantial drug-smuggling operations going on right now. This is a billion-dollar drug trade organization linked to the cartel,” an official told MSNBC.

To read more click here.

 

DEA Agent Killed in Afghanistan Helicopter Crash Honored at His Old High School

Chad L. Michael/dea photo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Last week, after the students had left a rural Pennsylvania school about 70 miles west of Scranton, DEA administrators and colleagues gathered there to remember a fallen agent, an alma mater of Hughesville High School, according to the Sun Gazette.

Chad Michael, 30, assigned to the DEA Miami Division,  was one of three DEA agents killed in a helicopter crash in October 2009 in Afghanistan along with seven service men. The other DEA two agents were Michael Weston and Forrest N. Leamon. The men were targeting opium production in western Afghanistan.

Michael served in the DEA’s Foreign-deployed Advisory and Support Team, or FAST. In addition to Michael’s parents-mother Debra Hartz and stepfather Dr. Leo Hartz-also attending were the DEA’s Richard Crock and Richard Michael, the local school board president of whose district Michael graduated from high school.

The celebration came during the DEA’s “Red Ribbon Week” which calls upon organizations, parents, and educators to reinforce the dangers of drug abuse with children.

The school district created the Chad Michael Memorial Scholarship after his passing in service, which has gone to a graduate now attending the University of Pittsburgh and studying criminal justice. The scholarship, ranging from $500 to $1,000, is reserved for students intending to study criminal justice, as Michael had. Prior to Micheal’s DEA service he was a deputy Sheriff in Tampa Bay, Fla.

To read more click here.

 

OK Bill O’Reilly, You Can Stop Mentioning the $16 Muffin

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Folks like talk show host Bill O’Reilly talked incessantly about the government spending $16  a muffin at a conference even after press reports began to surface that the Justice Department report on the issue  probably wasn’t true. The Hilton hotel had disputed it all along, saying the price included multiple breakfast items.

Well, now it’s really official. Last week the Justice Department’s inspector general issued a revised version of an earlier report on conference expenditures that had made front page headlines in September, reports Government Executive.

“After further review of the newly provided documentation and information,” acting Inspector General Cynthia Schnedar said in a statement, “we determined that our initial conclusions concerning the itemized costs of refreshments at the . . . conference were incorrect.”

 

The original report had made mention of $16.80 muffins at an August 2009 Justice Department event at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C. Calling the report a “wake-up call” on wasteful spending on conferences, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, had called for the firing of some department employees at the time.

“We hope that our correction of the record for this one conference among the 10 conferences we reviewed does not detract from the more significant conclusion in our report: government conference expenditures must be managed carefully, and the department can do more to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and accounted for properly,” the new report said.

To read more click here.

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