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Archive for October, 2008

Bloody Politics Led to Firing of Missouri U.S. Atty

The stories this week continue to trickle in about the injustice at Justice when it came to the firings of some U.S. Attorneys. In Missouri, blood flowed in the case of U.S. Attorney Todd P. Graves who was axed in 2006.

Ex-U.S. Atty Todd Graves/doj photo

Ex-U.S. Atty Todd Graves/doj photo

By R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
In Missouri, evidently, Republican politics are exceptionally bloody, with clans fighting like rival mobs whose carnage spreads to other locales and sweeps in innocent civilians.
This is what former U.S. attorney Todd P. Graves discovered when he was ousted in January 2006 by the Justice Department. He got his first inkling of trouble in 2004 not from the department, but from an aide to Sen. Christopher S. Bond (R-Mo.), whose office was then embroiled in a bitter dispute with Graves’s brother, a U.S. congressman.
In a telephone call, the aide angrily warned Graves that if he did not intervene on Bond’s behalf — against his brother’s chief of staff — the senator “could no longer protect [his] job.” Graves refused, and a little over a year later, he was bounced from his Kansas City office after Bond’s staff made repeated complaints to the White House counsel’s office.
For Full Story

Read Full Report On U.S. Atty Firings

Taliban Drug Trafficking Rakes In 100 Mil A Year

The U.S. economy may be tanking, but the Taliban’s big business — drug trafficking — is doing just fine. How does that impact the war on terrorism? It can’t be good.

By James Gordon Meek
New York Daily News
WASHINGTON – The resurgent Taliban get a yearly injection of $100 million from drug trafficking, the top U.S. Army general in Afghanistan said Wednesday.
“That’s a conservative estimate,” added Gen. David McKiernan, who also commands NATO troops.
McKiernan also bluntly stated that America’s focus on Iraq means victory in Afghanistan is too far off to predict.
“Obviously our national priority has been Iraq,” McKiernan said. “The consequence of not placing more force capability in Afghanistan means it will take longer to win [and] at a higher price.”
For Full Story

Two Terrorism Convictions In New York Tossed

The U.S. Court of Appeals overturned a conviction of two Yemeni men accused of terrorism. The case included a witness who had set himself on fire in front of the White House. Tough to top that act.

By Larry Neumeister
The Associated Press
NEW YORK — A federal appeals court Thursday overturned the convictions of a Yemeni cleric and his deputy, finding they were prejudiced by inflammatory testimony about unrelated terrorism links in a case the United States once touted as a victory in its war against terrorism.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Thursday that Sheik Mohammed Ali Al-Moayad and Mohammed Mohsen Zayed, convicted of supporting terrorists, can have new trials. The three-judge panel took the unusual step of ordering the transfer of the case to a new judge.
The men were convicted in federal court in Brooklyn after a six-week trial in early 2005 on charges of conspiring to support al-Qaida and Hamas, supporting the Palestinian group and attempting to support al-Qaida. Their trial featured testimony by an FBI informant who set himself on fire outside the White House, saying he wanted more money from the FBI.
For Full Story

Read Court Of Appeals Ruling

FBI Arrests Puerto Rican Senator On Bribery

Scandal was bubbling on Thursday in Puerto Rico where a local senator was off to face bribery charges.

Sen. Jorge de Castro/official photo

Sen. Jorge de Castro/official photo

By Rebecca Banuchi
Associated Press Writer
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The FBI on Thursday arrested a prominent Puerto Rico lawmaker accused of providing political favors in exchange for cash and services totaling roughly half a million dollars, U.S. officials said.
Puerto Rico Sen. Jorge de Castro Font was indicted by a federal grand jury on 31 criminal counts including bribery, wire fraud and money laundering, U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez Velez said.
For Full Story

Prosecution Angers Judge In Stevens Trial

Sen. Stevens/official photo
Sen. Stevens/official photo

The trial of Sen. Ted Stevens  almost imploded today for the prosecution. Suffice to say, things could be going better. As a general rule, it’s never good to get the judge angry. The prosecution needs to work on that.

By Erika Bolstad and Richard Mauer
Anchorage Daily News
WASHINGTON – Prosecutors have seriously bungled evidence and witnesses, but Sen. Ted Stevens’ corruption trial will proceed as planned, a federal judge ruled this afternoon.
The case against the Alaska Republican had threatened to collapse earlier in the day when his attorney demanded a mistrial or dismissal of charges over the government’s failure to turn over evidence favorable to the senator.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan was angered at prosecutors for their handling of evidence that might help Stevens’ case but was “not persuaded” the violations were serious enough to declare a mistrial. The trial will resume Monday.
Judge Sullivan asked whether the defense attorneys wanted a few extra days before continuing with the trial and suggested they could make a new opening statement to jurors.
“Thank you for asking, but we believe there should be a dismissal,” said Stevens’ chief lawyer, Brendan Sullivan. “If not a dismissal, then a mistrial.”
For Full Story
New Defense Motion For Mistrial (Oct. 2)
FBI And IRS Documents (Oct. 2)
Government Motion Opposing Mistrial (Oct. 2)
FBI Report (Oct. 2)

Feds Digging In N.Y. For Mobsters

The FBI is digging for bodies linked to the mob wars in the 1990s. In 2006,  agents in Michigan dug up rural land outside of Detroit looking for James Hoffa, but came up empty handed.

BY Robert E. Kessler and Sophia Chang
Newsday
FARMINGDALE, N.Y. -Federal agents were digging at two sites and investigating a third site in East Farmingdale that sources said could be burial grounds containing the bodies of at least three victims of the bloody wars in the 1990s for control of the Colombo organized crime family.
At one site, a cluster of FBI agents stood near the railroad tracks behind an Executive Boulevard parking lot as a small backhoe dug into the dirt, before a police officer told reporters to get off private property.
Less than a mile away a large bulldozer began digging away in a vacant lot at the corner of Carolyn Boulevard and Boening Plaza.
For Full Story
Also Read:
Bonanno Crime Family Leader Anthony Spero Dies In Prison (Newsday)

S.C. County Councilman Busted For Computer Crime

Down in South Carolina, a popular County Councilman finds himself facing criminal charges for accessing a government computer and planting a monitoring device.

Tony Trout/county photo

Tony Trout/county photo

By David Dykes and Tim Smith
Greenville News Staff Writers
GREENVILLE, S.C. — The FBI on Wednesday arrested Greenville County Councilman Tony Trout on charges that he accessed without authorization a computer belonging to County Administrator Joe Kernell, according to U.S. Attorney Walt Wilkins and court records.
Trout said he was arrested by a swarm of FBI agents during a meeting with his attorney at a local fast-food restaurant. He called the FBI “imbeciles.”
He was released on $25,000 bond after a hearing before U.S. Magistrate William M. Catoe at the federal courthouse in Greenville.

For Full Story

Read FBI Affidavit

FBI Blocks Agents From Airing Criticisms About CIA

Two FBI agents won’t be appearing on a tv documentary to vent criticisms about the CIA. The FBI won’t let them.

By Jeff Stein
Spy Talk

The FBI has blocked two of its veteran counterterrorism agents from going public with accusations that the CIA deliberately withheld crucial intelligence before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
FBI Special Agents Mark Rossini and Douglas Miller have asked for permission to appear in an upcoming public television documentary, scheduled to air in January, on pre-9/11 rivalries between the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency.
The program is a spin-off from The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America, by acclaimed investigative reporter James Bamford, due out in a matter of days.
For Full Story