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Politico: Eric Holder Plugs His Legacy on Leak Cases

Reporter James Risen

By JOSH GERSTEIN
Politico

WASHINGTON — A federal jury’s decision Monday to convict a former CIA officer for leaking top-secret information to a New York Times reporter was a big win for prosecutors — and for Attorney General Eric Holder’s new approach to handling sensitive cases involving journalists.

Holder decided to spare the reporter in the case, New York Times correspondent James Risen, from testifying against his sources. The move could become an important part of the soon-to-depart attorney general’s legacy and a guidepost for future government leak cases given that the government won the case without much testimony from the reporter who received the information.

Holder and his allies are arguing that they have helped secure journalists’ First Amendment rights with the maneuver, but whistleblower advocates worry that the prison time ex-CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling is facing in the wake of the trial will wind up silencing federal employees seeking to expose government malfeasance or ineptitude.

To read the full story click here. 

 

Senate Confirmation Hearings Begin Today for Loretta Lynch for Attorney General

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch faces questions Wednesday as Senate confirmation hearings begin for her nomination for Attorney General.

It will be the first Republican-lead confirmation session of the Obama administration, the NBC affiliate in New York points out.

Lynch, who is considered a very able U.S. Attorney, has gotten praise from both sides of the political aisle and is expected to get confirmed. She would replace Eric Holder.

To read more click here. 

Former Mississippi U.S. Attorney George Phillips Dies at 65 After Battle With Cancer

George Phillips

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

George Phillips, who served as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi from 1980 to 1994 and oversaw corruption cases, including the FBI’s Operation Pretense, which led to the prosecutions of 57 Mississippi supervisors on corruption charges, has died the Clarion-Ledger reports.. He was 65.

The Clarion-Ledger reports that he died of cancer.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Dowdy of Jackson told the paper that Phillips was “like a second Dad to me. He was a Christian, and his character reflected that. He was honest, truthful and passionate about life, both personally and professionally. George is the reason I have a career as an Assistant U.S. Attorney.”

To read more click here.

Killer of Ex-ATF Agent Gets Life

Aric Smith

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A man who shot and killed former ATF agent Gregory Holley, 55, while he was walking his dog in northern Virginia a year ago, will spend the rest of his life in prison, WUSA9 reports.

Aric Smith, 26, of Woodbridge, Va., a suburb of D.C., was sentenced to two life terms last week, the station reports.

“We feel justice was served. Are we happy? Nothing will bring our Dad back, that’s what would make us happy,” said Christopher Holley, 38, the oldest of Holley’s four sons, according to WUSA9.

Last February, Holley was walking his dog at night in Woodbridge when Smith, a neighbor who did not know Holley, robbed him and fatally shot him, the station reported.

DOJ’s Top Public Corruption Investigator, Jack Smith, Takes New Job

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section has overcome some embarrassing blunders, from caving in to politicians to failing to convict former Sen. Ted Stevens and Sen. John Edwards.

In 2010, Jack Smith became the head of the beleaguered section, shouldered with the daunting responsibility of improving the prosecutors’ images as they go after public graft.

By most accounts, Smith turned around the section and last year won a highly publicized conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

Smith will become the top assistant to David Rivera, the U.S. Attorney in Nashville, TN., giving him an opportunity to return to trying cases, which he has missed.

FBI Busts Russian Agents Accused of Spying on U.S. from NYC

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The FBI said Monday it broke up a Russian spy ring in New York City, arresting the alleged ringleader and forcing two others to leave the country, The Washington Post reports. 

Evgeny Buryakov was charged with conspiracy to act and acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign government after he allegedly collected intelligence reports and other confidential information and supplied them to the SVR,  Russia’s foreign intelligence service.

The other two SVR agents were returned to Russia with diplomatic immunity.

Prosecutors said Buryakov arrived in the U.S. in 2010 and began establishing connections to gather reports on subjects ranging from U.S. sanctions to progress on alternative energy sources.

Justice Department Builds Secret Database to Spy on Millions of Cars

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

A license plate tracking program established to seize cars and money to combat drug trafficking has gone far beyond its original scope and has led to the collection and storage of millions of records about motorists, Reuters reports.

Not only is the database being used to track drug dealers, but state and locals authorities are using it to search for cars tied to other serious crimes, raising questions among privacy advocates.

This is the first time the DEA has revealed it is expanding its database beyond the  Mexican border.

What remained unknown was whether a judge or agency was responsible for oversight.

A debate is being waged in Washington over what some are expressing as privacy concerns with license plate readers.

Tim Steller: Unsealed Jay Dobyns Files Look Bad for DOJ

Jay Dobyns

By Tim Steller
Arizona Daily Star

Retired ATF agent Jay Dobyns’ lawsuit against the federal government alleged they broke a settlement deal with him and mistreated him, in part by calling him a suspect in the 2008 arson of his own Tucson home.

Newly unsealed documents in his case suggest that the government misbehaved during the trial in 2013, leading to DOJ attorneys being barred from filing further documents in the case. More eerily, the misbehavior may have extended to surveillance of Dobyns’ Phoenix attorney even up into this month.

For people like me, who have sympathized with Dobyns but tried to reserve judgment about his case, the documents push us further into the retired agent’s camp. You can’t read the few filings that have been unsealed in the case without wondering why the Justice Department is going to such extremes and spending so much on what is, at base, a relatively minor contractual dispute that could have ended years ago.

To read more click here.