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December 2008


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Archive for December, 2008

Blackwater Guards Surrender After Federal Indictment


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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.
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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.”
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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.
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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.
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FBI Agent Mark Rossini — Romantically Linked to Actress– Pleads Guilty to Accessing FBI Computers To Help Pellicano Case

Linda Fiorentino

Linda Fiorentino

By Allan Lengel
WASHINGTON – FBI Agent Mark T. Rossini, who became fodder for the New York gossip columns when  he started dating actress Linda Fiorentino, pleaded guilty Monday in federal court in Washington to illegally accessing FBI computers to help rogue private eye Anthony Pellicano during his Los Angles trial on wiretapping and racketeering charges.
The dapper 47-year-old Rossini, clad in a charcoal gray pinstriped-suit and vest, with white shirt and purplish tie, pleaded guilty to five-misdemeanor counts of criminal computer access. Sentencing was set for March on Friday the 13th. Each count carries a maximum of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
Rossini, looking very somber, told U.S. District Magistrate Judge John M. Focciola that he agreed with the government’s five-page statement of offense that accused him of accessing the FBI’s Automated Case Support System (ACS) more than 40 times for personal use in Washington and New York between Jan 3, 2007 and July 30, 2007.
At one point, the government report said that Rossini downloaded an FBI document known as a “302 report” on Jan. 26, 2007 and gave it to someone only referred to as “X”. That person was Fiorentino .
Fiorentino, who had “a previous relationship with Anthony Pellicano” provided a copy of the report to a Pellincano attorney  in San Francisco, the document said. The attorneys then used the document in Pellicano’s trial to say that the government was withholding “exculpratory information from the defense.”
Little did the attorneys know, the government document said, that the judge had privately told the government in an ex-parte communication that it did not have to hand over the document. Pellicano was eventually convicted of running a criminal enterprise that illegally snooped on high profile celebrities.
The government document went on to say: “On or about July 9, 2007, an online magazine “Radar Online” published a report relating to the defendant, and the government’s prosecution of Anthony Pellicano. The defendant told his supervisors that the article was entirely false, when in fact that was not the case.
“Agents from the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General (OIG) interviewed the
defendant on February 25, 2008, in the presence of his prior attorney,” the document said.”The defendant falsely denied that he obtained FBI information without authorization, or that he provided any FBI information to outside persons. He also denied transmitting the FBI 302 report to any person outside the FBI.”
Rossini, who is likely not to get jail time because he pleaded guilty and quit his job, left the courtroom without comment. Under the sentencing guidelines, he could get a sentence of 0 to 6 months.

Read Government’s Statement of Offense

Showdown in the Motown: Detroit Reporter Invokes the Fifth and Refuses to Disclose Sources

An angry ex-federal prosecutor wants to know who in the government leaked damaging information about him. And he wants a reporter to tell him who talked. The reporter is refusing. The drama continues.

David Ashenfelter

Ex-Prosecutor Convertino/law office photo

Ex-Prosecutor Convertino/law office photo

By Joe Swickard
Detroit Free Press
DETROIT — Detroit Free Press reporter David Ashenfelter declined under oath this afternoon to reveal confidential sources in a legal standoff that pits journalistic principles against the obligation to testify under subpoena.
In declining to say who told the newspaper that a federal prosecutor was being investigated for his handling of a botched terrorism case, Ashenfelter invoked the First Amendment of the Constitution that guarantees press freedoms, and his Fifth-Amendment right against self-incrimination.
The newspaper released a statement saying Ashenfelter (far left photo)  took the Fifth because of concerns that he could face legal exposure if the sources are identified and charged with a crime for leaking the information. Richard Convertino, a former federal prosecutor who sought the information from Ashenfelter as part of a lawsuit against the government, contends that it was illegal for the information to be leaked. Convertino also contends that Ashenfelter, by refusing to give up his sources, is aiding anyone who committed a crime.
“Journalists ought not to have to resort to taking the Fifth Amendment, when the First Amendment should be enough to protect them,” the Free Press statement said. “But in light of the allegations made by Convertino in his lawsuit, it is appropriate for Ashenfelter to do so.”
It is not immediately clear what Steven M. Kohn, the attorney for Convertino, will do now.
“We will be seeking the appropriate relief,” said Kohn as he exited the deposition in Ann Arbor after a 55-minute session. Kohn said he may seek to ask a federal judge to hold Ashenfelter in contempt of court and seek other sanctions.
For Full Story

Read Column on Convertino

U.S. Prosecutor in Blackwater Security Case Will Meet With Victims’ Families in Iraq

The prosecutor meeting with victims’ families sends a message that Iraqi lives matter.

New York Times
BAGHDAD –An American prosecutor working on the case against five Blackwater security guards indicted in connection with a 2007 shooting in Baghdad has arrived in Iraq and will be meeting with victims’ families this week, Iraqi officials said.
An Iraqi official familiar with the investigation said the meeting with victims’ families would take place on Saturday in a large dining center in Iraq’s National Police Headquarters, just a stone’s throw from Nisour Square, the traffic circle in Baghdad where at least 17 Iraqis were killed by private security guards working for Blackwater Worldwide
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UPDATED: 2:20 p.m. Monday

Justice Department Unseals 35-count Indictment in Blackwater Case (Washington Post)

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Read Guilty Plea Document For Sixth Defendant