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Tag: Justice Department

FBI Incensed Over Justice Department’s Leniency in Blackwater Security Case

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is not happy with how prosecutors handled the indictment of Blackwater security contractors involved in a deadly shooting in Iraq, saying political appointees in the Justice Department intentionally undermined the case. The FBI wanted to have charges filed that could have sent the defendants to prison for life.

Citing internal emails, The New York Times reports that the FBI also expressed serious concerns with Justice Department officials’ decision to refuse to bring two machine-gun charges, each of which carries a maximum 30 years in prison.

In part, officials were not comfortable with the mandatory minimum sentences.

“We are getting some serious resistance from our office to charging the defendants with mandatory minimum time,” Kenneth Kohl, a federal prosecutor, told the lead F.B.I. agent on the case, John Patarini, before the  grand jury to vote on an indictment in December 2008.

Patarini was not happy: “I would rather not present for a vote now and wait until the new administration takes office than to get an indictment that is an insult to the individual victims, the Iraqi people as a whole, and the American people who expect their Justice Department to act better than this.”

In 2007, Blackwater security contractors shot machine guns and grenade launchers into a crowded square in Baghdad, killing 17 people and wounding many others.

 

 

 

Justice Department Negatively Impacted by Delay in Confirming Lorreta Lynch

Loretta Lynch

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The partisan delay in confirming Loretta Lynch as the next attorney general is beginning to impact promotions and policy decision at the Justice Department, The Los Angeles Times reports.  

The delay has prompted DOJ officials to question whether to hold a major intentional meeting on cybersecurity this spring.

“There is a constant complication about committing to things,” said Robert Raben, a former assistant attorney general who is advising Lynch on the nomination and remains in touch with department officials. “For April and May, there are an enormous amount of things that are on hold. It’s impossible for the leadership to know what to commit to, because they do not know if Ms. Lynch is going to have a different view.”

The Senate returns this week but it’s unclear whether Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, will hold a vote.

“There are major policy decisions that are on hold,” said one department official who was not authorized to speak publicly about internal matters.

Both Republicans and Democrats have called for delays.

Judge Declines to Lift Hold on President Obama’s Immigration Plans

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Obama’s plan to shield millions of immigrants from deportation received another setback Tuesday after a judge refused to lift a temporary hold on the executive action.

The Associated Press reports that U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville declined the administration’s request to lift the preliminary injunction issued on Feb. 16.

Without the injunction lifted, the administration is barred from implementing its new immigration policies.

The Justice Department also has appealed the court’s original hold on the actions, and arguments could begin as early as April 17.

DEA, Justice Department Secretly Tracked Phone Calls of Americans

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA and Justice Department have been secretly amassing logs of nearly all international phone calls that originated from the U.S., the USA Today reports.

The collection of billions of calls came nearly a decade before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The government has tracked calls to as many as 116 countries, including Canada, Mexico and most of South America.

The records helped investigators track the distribution networks of drug cartels.

According to the USA Today,

The now-discontinued operation, carried out by the DEA’s intelligence arm, was the government’s first known effort to gather data on Americans in bulk, sweeping up records of telephone calls made by millions of U.S. citizens regardless of whether they were suspected of a crime. It was a model for the massive phone surveillance system the NSA launched to identify terrorists after the Sept. 11 attacks.

That dragnet drew sharp criticism that the government had intruded too deeply into Americans’ privacy after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked it to the news media two years ago.

Other Stories of Interest

 

 

Former Top-Ranking Federal Prosecutor Leaves Job for Private Law Firm

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A federal prosecutor who once was the third highest-ranking official in the Justice Department’s fraud section is headed to the private sector.

The New York Times reports that James Koukios is joining private law firm, Morrison & Forester.

He was named a partner in the firm’s security litigation and white-collar criminal defense group, The Times wrote.

In other words, Koukois will help defend the people he once tried to prosecute.

Koukois’ last day is Friday.

Other Stories of Interest


Columnist: Federal Charges Against Sen. Menendez Are ‘Avoidable Mistake’

Robert Menendez

By Gerald Krovatin
Star-Ledger Guest Columnist

Let’s take a deep breath and put the indictment of Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) in perspective.

Every few years, the Public Integrity Section of the Justice Department in Washington seems to bring a case against a high-profile elected official that turns out to be a waste of time and resources. From the unsuccessful prosecution of former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy to the train wreck of a case against former Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) to the bewildering charges against former Sen. John Edwards (D-North Carolina), when the dust settles, the prosecutions have ended up posing more of a threat to public confidence in the Justice Department and its judgment than anything else.

This year, the “public integrity” roulette wheel has stopped on Sen. Menendez. And, like many of the cases that have come before it, the prosecution of Sen. Menendez has all the signs of being another foreseeable and avoidable mistake.

In the case just filed, the prosecutors have charged Sen. Menendez with accepting gifts from Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen. The government contends that, in exchange for these gifts, Sen. Menendez met with administration officials to advance his friend’s interests in a Medicare billing dispute and a port security contract in the Dominican Republic.

But according to news reports and a court opinion already decided during the investigation, the senator and Melgen have also been close personal friends for more than two decades. Their relationship reportedly includes weddings, funerals and other family events that close friends typically share with each other.

This friendship poses a serious legal problem for the government. How can the government prove that any efforts by Sen. Menendez on behalf of his friend were caused by any gifts, as opposed to their long-standing personal friendship? And, if the Justice Department now is charging that soliciting or receiving campaign contributions is the quid pro quo of corruption, it better abolish our current system of raising political money or build a whole lot more jail cells for contributors and candidates.

Gerald Krovatin is a criminal defense attorney and a past president of the Association of the Federal Bar of New Jersey.

To read more click here. 

Detroit News: Justice Department Wants to Limit Our Fourth Amendment Rights

By The Detroit News
Editorial Board

If Americans had no civil liberties, it would be a snap to keep the country safe and secure. Police states are highly effective at dissuading criminal activity and rooting out threats.

But as inconvenient as it often is for law enforcement, we do have a Bill of Rights that guarantees protections and procedures aimed at keeping us free, as well as safe.

Unfortunately, in recent years, many Americans have been too willing to forfeit those rights in the name of battling perceived existential threats, most notably drugs and terrorism. And federal agencies are all too keen about snatching bits and pieces of our freedoms to make it easier for them to do their jobs without the bother of adhering to the Constitution.

The latest example comes from the Justice Department, which has slipped a major intrusion on the Fourth Amendment into nearly 400 pages of arcane rule changes being considered by a judicial committee.

Federal prosecutors want to make it easier to find and hack into computers being used for cyber crimes, including child pornography and identity theft.

The Fourth Amendment limits property search warrants to geographical areas in which the signing judge has jurisdiction. The government claims the rules are no longer adequate in an era when cyber criminals can use their computers to not only hide their identity, but their whereabouts as well.

The proposed changes would allow judges in a district “where activities related to a crime” have occurred to issue a warrant. That would allow prosecutors to search computers currently outside their reach.

Civil libertarians are rightly concerned that the language of the proposal would sidestep the constitutional requirement that warrants be specific about who and what is being targeted by a search.

FBI’s May Have Drones But Bureau Rarely Uses Them, According to DOJ Report

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI drone program isn’t very far-reaching.

According to a newly released report from the Justice Department’s Inspector General, the FBI has 17 working drones and just two pilots, The Verge reports.

The report found that the drones operate out of one location, making it difficult to use the flying cameras nationwide. Because of the limitations, the pilots “needed to travel thousands of miles to support FBI investigations across the United States.”

The drones were only used for 13 investigations between September 2006 and August 2014.

The FBI has a $ million budget for its drones.

Other Stories of Interest