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December 2008


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Archive for December 9th, 2008

U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald Holds Press Conference

Video on Illinois Governor’s Arrest

Breaking News: Illinois Gov. Blagojevich and Chief of Staff Arrested in Corruption Probe

Well, all you can say is: Louisiana you don’t have anything over on Illinois. The state has one ex-gov in prison and a current one under indictment.

Gov. Blagojevich

Gov. Blagojevich

By Jon Perkins

Democratic Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested yesterday on a criminal complaint alleging “a political corruption crime spree” that included conspiring to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate position.
Blagojevich, who has been under investigation for at least three years by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the district attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, was taken into custody by the FBI early Tuesday at his home on Chicago’s North Side. He and his chief of staff, John Harris, are charged in a “pay to play scheme” that
allegedly included: seeking jobs and benefits for Blagojevich and his wife; threatening to withdraw $8 million in funding for a Chicago children’s hospital, pushing for Chicago Tribune editors to be fired in
exchange for favorable treatment on the company’s proposed sale of the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field and kickbacks on horse racing and casino legislation.
The 76-page criminal complaint based on about a month and a half of wiretaps at Blagojevich’s home and campaign offices, alleges that the governor wanted kickbacks in exchange for appointing someone to the Senate seat Obama vacated after winning election as president.
“The conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave,” Fitzgerald said, quoting Blagojevich as saying the Senate seat is “a bleeping valuable thing. You just don’t give it away. … I’ve got this thing and it’s bleeping golden.”
Fitzgerald called the allegations “staggering.” This is “corruption at its absolute best.” Illinois politics has a history of chicinary going back years. Since the 1960s, three men who have been governor have been sent to jail. The latest, former governor George Ryan, is in prison on bribery and corruption charges related to his
time as Illinois secretary of state and governor, in a probe headed by Fitzgerald.
He said Blagojevich was arrested yesterday to stop actions that could have to be later reversed.
Fitzgerald called the corruption charges against Blagojevich “a truly new low.” Blagojevich wasn’t against the corrupt deal for the Senate seat, he was against “being stiffed in the corrupt deal,”Fitzgerald said. Two aides reportedly told Blagojevich to appoint whoever Obama wanted to the Senate post, but the governor reportedly said “bleep them.” He reportedly considered naming himself to the post or asking for a cabinet-level job including secretary of Health and Human Services or an ambassadorship.
Blagojevich “talked about selling it like a sports agent,” Fitzgerald said.
The governor was released on bond after a court appearance. Fitzgerald said the investigation into Blagojevich continues.
Blagojevich, as governor, has the sole authority to name Obama’s replacement. Fitzgerald, who many speculate is ticketed for a high-ranking Justice Department post, said his office is not implying that Obama had knowledge or was aware of the alleged scheming. Obama, who was “saddened and sobered” by the arrest, said he had had no contact with Blagojevich on the appointment. Blagojevich’s arrest does not preclude him from making the appointment.
Robert Grant, FBI special agent in charge of the Chicago office, characterized Illinois’ place in the pantheon of political corruption. “If it isn’t the most corrupt state in the United States, it’s certainly one hell of a competitor,” Grant said. “Even the most cynical agents in our office were shocked.”
Fitzgerald  was behind the recent conviction of Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a
financier and fund-raiser who has been connected to several  Illinois
Democrats including  Blagojevich and Obama.  Rezko reportedly is
cooperating with Fitzgerald in his probe into Illinois political

For Full Story

Read Criminal Complaint

Read U.S. Attorney’s Press Release

Columnist Eric Zorn: Charges ‘staggering,’ even by Illinois standards (Chicago Tribune)

Trib Was Asked To Delay Publishing Stories

Obama Said He Had No Contact Over Senate Seat (Chicago Tribune)

Blackwater Guards Surrender After Federal Indictment


Read Indictment

Should FBI Dir. Mueller and Ex-A.G. John Ashcroft Take Responsibility for Some Questionable Anti-Terrorism Policies?

Robert Mueller III/fbi photo

Robert Mueller III/fbi photo

Have the U.S. anti-terrorism policies gone over the line? If so, who is responsible? The Supreme Court may bring some clarity to the issue.

John Ashcroft/doj photo

John Ashcroft/doj photo

By Warren Richey
The Christian Science Monitor
WASHINGTON — The US Supreme Court this week takes up a case examining whether cabinet-level officials in the Bush White House can be held legally accountable for the administration’s controversial tactics in the war on terror.
At issue is an attempt to force former Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI director Robert Mueller to stand trial with federal agents, prison guards, and their supervisors. They are all named in a lawsuit filed by a Pakistani man who was held as a terror suspect for five months in solitary confinement in a US prison although there was no evidence connecting him to terrorism.
The case is set for oral argument on Wednesday.
Javaid Iqbal was among hundreds of Middle Eastern and South Asian Muslims who were swept up in a massive government dragnet in the New York City area in the weeks and months after the Sept. 11 attacks. Most of the men were arrested on valid immigration-related charges. But instead of being housed in an immigration detention center to await deportation, some of the men – including Mr. Iqbal – were taken to a maximum security section of a federal prison in Brooklyn.
Iqbal’s lawsuit alleges that he was subjected to “brutal mistreatment and discrimination” by federal officials who arbitrarily classified him as a Sept. 11 suspect “of high interest” to the FBI solely because he was a Muslim from Pakistan.
For Full Story

FBI Stats Show More People Getting Away With Murder

Statistics show too many people are getting away with the ultimate crime.

Associated Press Writer
CHICAGO — Despite the rise of DNA fingerprinting and other “CSI”-style crime-fighting wizardry, more and more people in this country are getting away with murder. FBI figures reviewed by The Associated Press show that the homicide clearance rate, as detectives call it, dropped from 91 percent in 1963 – the first year records were kept in the manner they are now – to 61 percent in 2007.
Law enforcement officials say the chief reason is a rise in drug- and gang-related killings, which are often impersonal and anonymous, and thus harder to solve than slayings among family members or friends. As a result, police departments are carrying an ever-growing number of “cold-case” murders on their books.
“We have killers walking among us. We have killers living in our neighborhoods,” said Howard Morton, executive director of Families of Homicide Victims and Missing Persons. “It is a clear threat to public safety to allow these murders to go unsolved.”
For Full Story

Obama Expected to Reshape Federal Judiciary

No question the judiciary is about the feel a shift. The question is: What impact will it have on federal law enforcement?
By Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — The federal judiciary is on the verge of a major shift when President-elect Barack Obama’s nominees take control of several of the nation’s most important appellate courts, legal scholars and political activists say. With the Supreme Court’s conservative direction unlikely to change anytime soon, it is the lower courts — which dispense almost all federal justice — where Obama can assert his greatest influence.
The change will be most striking on the Richmond-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, long a conservative bastion and an influential voice on national security cases, where four vacancies will lead to a clear Democratic majority. Democrats are expected to soon gain a narrower plurality on the New York-based 2nd Circuit, vital for business and terrorism cases, a more even split on the influential D.C. appeals court and control of the 3rd Circuit, which covers Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Although Republican control will probably persist on a majority of appellate courts for at least several years, some experts say that by the end of Obama’s term, he and the Democratic Congress will flip the 56 percent majority Republican nominees now exert over those highly influential bodies.
“Obama has a huge opportunity,” said Arthur Hellman, a University of Pittsburgh law professor who is an authority on federal courts.
For Full Story

Woman Charged Federally in Slaying of Pittsburgh FBI Agent

FBI agent Sam Hicks/fbi photo

FBI agent Sam Hicks/fbi photo

Christina Korbe originally said she fired because she thought it was a home invasion. Court papers give a different story

By Paula Reed Ward
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
PITTSBURGH — The federal government this afternoon charged Christina Korbe, the woman who fired the shot that killed FBI Special Agent Samuel Hicks last month, with murder. The maximum penalty she could face is life in prison; the government has not charged her with premeditated homicide.
According to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court, Mrs. Korbe is also charged with using a gun to forcibly assault and interfere with Agent Hicks’ official duties; using a firearm during commission of a crime of violence; and aiding a felon to possess a firearm.
For Full Story