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Archive for September, 2008

Detroit Mayor’s Woes May Not Be Over

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has stepped down as mayor and will go off to jail for four months. But reports suggest the FBI still may have some interest in his activities and his legal problems may not be over.

By Paul Egan
Detroit News
DETROIT – The plea deal announced Thursday to settle perjury and other felony charges against Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick does not automatically resolve all of the mayor’s legal woes.
A federal investigation of alleged Detroit City Hall corruption in which Kilpatrick’s father, Bernard N. Kilpatrick, and certain close associates of the mayor are under scrutiny remains a wild card and a likely worry for the mayor, despite the plea deal with Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy that includes Kilpatrick’s resignation.
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Related  stories: 
Kilpatrick Pleads Guilty and Resigns (Detroit Free Press)
How The Plea Deal Was Worked Out

Lobbyist Bad Boy Gets Four Years in Prison

WASHINGTONJack Abramoff, the onetime flamboyant lobbyist who amassed a fortune by showering gifts on Congressional and executive branch officials while bilking Indian tribes of millions of dollars, was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison.
Judge Ellen S. Huvelle of Federal District Court here ordered that Mr. Abramoff serve the time for corruption and tax offenses uncovered by an influence-peddling investigation that touched Republican leaders in Congress and midlevel officials in the Bush administration, among others. Judge Huvelle said Mr. Abramoff had engaged in “a consistent course of corrupt conduct.”
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Feds Shed Light on Bizzare Bank Heist

Brian Wells/FBI photo

Brian Wells/FBI photo

A pizza delivery guy who said he was forced into robbing a bank wasn’t delivering the truth, feds say.

By Sean D. Hamill
New York Times
ERIE, Pa. – In one of the most bizarre crimes in recent memory, a pizza deliveryman walked into a bank near here five years ago and gave a teller a note saying a bomb strapped to his neck and torso would detonate if he was not given money.
The man, Brian D. Wells, walked out with $8,702, got in his car and was stopped almost immediately by state police troopers. Minutes later, the bomb exploded, killing Mr. Wells.
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FBI Ups The Ante $1 million For Mobster

The Boston FBI continues to hunt mobster James “Whitey” Bulger. Will adding to the reward help?

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
 
     The reward for the capture of Boston’s most notorious mobster James “Whitey” Bulger has doubled.  The FBI is now offering $2 million.
     Along with the reward, the FBI said Wednesday that it’s distributing two new  age-enhanced photos of the elusive Bulger to its 56 field divisions and 60 legal attaches around the country.
      “The Bulger Fugitive Task Force continues to conduct a comprehensive worldwide fugitive investigation to apprehend James “Whitey” Bulger,” said U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan in Boston in a prepared statement. “The $2 million reward is yet another way to increase awareness and visibility of Bulger’s photo and to encourage anyone who might have information to come forward.”
       According to the FBI, Bulger has been involved in a life of crime since leaving the U.S. Air Force in 1952.
      Bulger was a crime boss in South Boston and ran a criminal organization for 30 year that was involved in gambling, loan sharking and drugs. In 2000, he was charged with playing a role in 19 murders during the 1970s and 1980s in connection with organized crime leadership, the FBI said.

IG Referred Gonzales For Possible Prosecution

     Taking homework home can be dangerous business. Just ask former Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales.

Alberto Gonzales/CNN
Alberto Gonzales/CNN
By Eric Lichtblau
New York Times
WASHINGTON — Former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales mishandled highly classified information relating to the National Security Agency’s wiretapping program and the administration’s prisoner interrogation program, an internal report concluded Tuesday.
The Justice Department inspector general, who investigated Mr. Gonzales’s handling of the documents, said he kept classified material at his home and in an office safe in violation of security procedures. The inspector general referred the matter to the national security division of the Justice Department for possible criminal action, but officials there declined to prosecute Mr. Gonzales.
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U.S. Spending Billions, But Coca Crop Grows

The U.S. continues to spend billions of dollars to fight the war on drugs overseas. Unfortunately, across the Andean region, the size of the coca crop keeps increasing.

By Juan Forero and Joshua Partlow
Washington Post Foreign Service
COROICO, Bolivia — Benito Cocarico admits that some of the coca leaves he grows to sell as tea and a traditional pick-me-up are channeled off into the broad stream of the global cocaine trade. But as he trudges on the muddy trails of his farm, located in a region where the raw material for the drug grows on narrow terraces, he explains how central the crop is to his family’s well-being.
“The prices of oranges, mandarins, coffee and other products are too low, and they do not give you enough to survive,” said Cocarico, 50, adding that he plans to double the size of his coca crop. “So we are obligated to plant coca.”
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Talk On Terrorisim


John G. Perren, FBI special agent in charge of counter-terrorism at the Washington field office, spent a half year in Iraq for the bureau in 2005 as the on-scene commander before returning home to headquarters to become section chief of the Weapons of Mass Destruction/Domestic Terrorism Operations Section. Earlier this year, he took his new post. He recently sat down in his office with ticklethewire.com editor Allan Lengel. The following is a condensed version.

Q. You think about of all the white supremacist groups and now we have a black presidential candidate. Has that changed the landscape at all with Obama running?

A. We have a domestic terrorism squad that we task their sources to be our ears on the ground in case any kind of threat does come up against a candidate. If you you listen to the rhetoric and beliefs, this plays into their fears.

The rhetoric has picked up. You can see that in open source reporting. Go on the Internet, we’re getting source reporting that they’re very keenly aware and watching very closely, politics, what’s going on. Any information on any threats we get regarding presidential candidates, we coordinate closely with U.S. Secret Service.

Q. Since Sept. 11, the Internet has become more and more a part of our culture. How has that impacted the terrorism network and has that impacted the way you investigate it?

A. What its done, its taken this large world of ours and made it a lot smaller. It enabled these Jihadist, these terrorist groups to actually match recipes over the Internet, talk to each other over the Internet, conduct training over the Internet. What we’ve done in the Washington field office, we’ve started a terrorist cyber squad to address such threats.

Q. How does that work?

A. Right now, I don’t want to comment too much on that. We’ll be conducting investigations over the Internet. It won’t just be for this area. The Internet squad will be starting out in Manassas. This will be national and worldwide. We’re talking about getting set up in the next couple months. We’re aware of the cyber threat.

Q. We’ve heard a lot about sleeper cells since Sept. 11. Are there sleeper cells?

A. That’s always a concern for us. Our biggest concern… that lone wolf. That’s still our concern. Home grown people. We not only have core al Qaeda and we have al Qaeda inspired and we have those that sit there and listen and absorb it and sympathize, and those are the people that run below the radar that we’re really concerned about. That runs across international terrorism, domestic terrorism, WMD threats. The lone wolf is what worries us the most.

Q. Back to domestic terrorism…

A. After the Oklahoma bombing, they became more prominent.

I think they were always there but they came to the forefront. We still have our right wing groups, we still have our left wing groups, we still have our special interest groups, they’re not as vocal, they don’t seem as organized as they used to be with the passing with National Alliance leader (white supremacist group). They kind of split off in different factions. They’re still out there. Again you go back to that lone wolf. That’s my biggest concern. The lone wolf that joins a group and is not satisfied with the radicalism of that group, and thinks they’re all talk; looks for a more radical group and doesn’t find one and decides to do something himself. That’s the guy that’s flying under the radar. That’s why we need to have all the ears and eyes on the ground watching for somebody like that. That’s why we set up what we call trip wires. That’s why we go to talk to the Home Depots, the Loews. And to the chemical folks. If somebody does come and starts purchasing a lot of ammonia nitrate, a lot of fertizler or goes to chemical companies or storages and purchases a lot of precursors like hydrogen peroxide, things like that. We have these alarm bells on there so they’ll pick up the phone and ‘go yeah, we just sold, don’t know why he bought all these stuff.’ That’s what we constantly do. Make folks aware. We set up our trip wires.

Q. After Sept. 11 you were inundated with tips. Have you learned to sift through that better so you’re not spending as much time chasing after the wrong people?

A. We still have that ‘no lead is left unaddressed’. Anything we get we chase it down. In the Washington field office, we have a Guardian Squad that does that. Any threat, any information, suspicious activity, anything we get, we generate a lead and follow it up.

Q. Before Sept. 11, a lot of people did not know about Middle Eastern culture. What’s the FBI done to close that gap?

A. We have several agents that have received culture training, they’ve gone over to the Middle East and had language training, culture training. Our Intel analysts that are coming into the bureau and our agents that are coming to the bureau, we’re looking for diversified backgrounds and culture. We have given culture training. Here at the Spy Museum, the Joint Terrorism Task Force, our agents, task force officers, we had these folks from West Pointe come in; professors, doctors, that have been in the culture, teach our folks for about a one-week long lesson plan. It had to do with culture. Everything from talking, to gestures, how to approach people, how to conduct interviews and the historical perspective of cultures, Muslims, Islam, how it all comes together. That’s going to be ongoing. That’s not going to be a one time thing.

Q. Have terrorists groups changed the way they do things?

A. We have certain groups out here, they’re here strictly to raise funds. And we follow the money. We know these funds are being used to support terrorists. We’re doing that not just here in the Washington D.C. area, but we’re doing it nationally. I don’t want to get into specifics. We have active investigations where we know folks are raising funds, taking these funds, sending them abroad and they’re used in support of terrorism or used in support of training. Again, it’s following the money.

Q. Back to sleeper cells. There are a lot of sleeper cells?

A. I know in 2006, you know when we went to the caves and all that stuff and came up with the pocket litter. That was part of their plan, send people over and have them be westernized and use these folks. To answer your question, I’m not going to answer that question. We’re aware of that possibility.

Q. Have the data bases been helpful?

A. It has been. As far as information sharing, sharing data, it’s been real helpful. It’s almost unheard of now for an agency not to talk to another agency. A lot of data bases are grouped together so a lot of agencies can data mine them.

Q. Are you still getting good intelligence from overseas, in Iraq?

A. Yes.

Q. Have you been able to work any known plots?

A. (Doesn’t want to discuss).

Q. Is that frustrating (not being able to discuss that)?

A. We have no issue with that. We can take our criticisms, we take our shots, but we know of our accomplishments. We can’t sit there and talk about these accomplishments.

Q. There is a list of what the U.S. considers terrorist organizations. Obviously the magic word there is al Qaeda, the Taliban. What about Hezbollah and Hamas? Do you see them as threats in this country or are they just threats to the respective countries?

A. We’re actively working those organizations; we’re actively working Hamas, we’re actively working Hezbollah. We’ve got a squad dedicated directly to Hamas and Hezbollah. I’ve got to be very careful, we’ve got ongoing investigations. We’ve got activity in our area that we’re investigating. They’re not what we call the bomb throwers, but they’re in support of training, recruiting, sending financing that we’re actively investigating. You have to remember an organization like that we may not have the operators here but the infrastructure is here. So what would it take for them to go from support to operational? That’s something that we’re always thinking about.

Q. There’s been talk since 2001 about the FBI should stick to certain things besides terrorism…

A. I think the FBI is very unique that we can combine our intelligence capabilities with our law enforcement capabilities. That’s our uniqueness. We’ve had MI5 come to the United States, take a look at us and say ‘Man, we wish we could do what you could do. We don’t work as well as you do. Don’t turn into MI5.’



Q. In the hi-tech world, have you been surprised?

A. They’re very savvy. They use the Internet, they know how to set up firewalls, they have their experts they use. That’s what this one squad is going to go after, identify these folks so they can’t communicate with each other, they can’t train, they can’t share information. We want to shutdown the site.

Q. Any advice to agents?

A. What I tell agents now. After they’re probationary time is up I have them come in my office. All new agents, I tell them let us not get complacent. Let us not forget about 9/11. let us keep that sense of urgency. Because nothings happened, let us not let our guard down. That’s my biggest fear that we let our guard down.

Venezuela Refuses to Cooperate With DEA

In the latest barb-trading over the issue, Venezuela dismissed U.S. attempts to renew talks on drugs as ”useless and inopportune,” saying U.S. officials should focus on slashing demand for drugs at home rather than blaming setbacks on other nations’ supposed lack of cooperation.
”The anti-drug fight in Venezuela has shown significant progress during recent years, especially since the government ended official cooperation programs with the DEA,” Venezuela’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
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