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Archive for December, 2008

Sen. Durbin Wants Bush to Commute Ex-Illinois Gov Ryan’s Sentence

Yes, it’s Christmas season and Sen. Dick Durbin wants Pres. Bush to give a big gift to ex-Illinois Gov. George Ryan. What better way to say “I love you”.

By Rick Pearson
Tribune reporter
CHICAGO — Despite an acknowledged firestorm of criticism, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin said Monday that he was asking President George W. Bush to commute the federal corruption sentence of former Republican Gov. George Ryan to time served as an act of compassion and mercy.
“For those who would argue that a commutation makes light of his crimes, it is clear that he has already paid a significant price and will continue to do so as long as he lives,” Durbin wrote of Ryan in a letter to Bush. “Justice is a sword that should be tempered with compassion. Further imprisonment will not, in my opinion, serve the ends of justice.”
The request by Durbin, the second-highest ranking Democrat in Senate leadership, met with support from Ryan’s attorney, former Gov. Jim Thompson, but was assailed by the head of Ryan’s prosecution team and some of the jurors who convicted him.
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OTHER STORIES Of INTEREST

FBI Report Says White Supremacists Infiltrating Military

The Southern Poverty Law Center is asking the Pentagon to crackdown on extremist recruits. A previous request went nowhere.

By David Holthouse
Intelligence Report
Southern Poverty Law Center

A new FBI report confirms that white supremacists are infiltrating the military for several reasons. According to the unclassified FBI Intelligence Assessment, “White Supremacist Recruitment of Military Personnel Since 9/11,” which was released to law enforcement agencies nationwide: “Sensitive and reliable source reporting indicates supremacist leaders are encouraging followers who lack documented histories of neo-Nazi activity and overt racist insignia such as tattoos to infiltrate the military as ‘ghost skins,’ in order to recruit and receive training for the benefit of the extremist movement.”
The FBI report details more than a dozen investigative findings and criminal cases involving Iraq and Afghanistan veterans as well as active-duty personnel engaging in extremist activity in recent years.

For Full Story

Some Senators Say Convicted Sen. Ted Stevens Deserves Pardon

As the Bush administration winds down, judgment day is nearing. Will Sen. Ted Stevens get a pardon? We shall see.

Sen. Ted Stevens/official photo

Sen. Ted Stevens/official photo

By MANU RAJU and RYAN GRIM
The Politico
WASHINGTON — Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) hasn’t yet joined the gallery of notorious felons, small-time crooks and aggrieved innocents seeking pardons from President Bush, but it appears he’ll have the support of some of his soon-to-be-former colleagues if he does.
“He has served this country for over 50 years,” said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), a widely respected member of the Judiciary Committee. “I think most anybody would probably say, ‘Yeah, he should be [pardoned].’ I think most anybody would say it’s fair to say that.”
On Oct. 27, a District of Columbia jury convicted Stevens on seven counts of failing to report more than $250,000 in gifts and home renovations he received from 1999 to 2006. Stevens, 85, faces up to 35 years in prison if the conviction stands.

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Fed. Judge Tosses Out a Lot of Charges Against Puerto Rico Gov.

Puerto Rico’s Governor got a big break. Will it be a big enough break to keep him free?

Puerto Rico Governor

Puerto Rico Governor

By MIKE MELIA
Associated Press Writer
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A U.S. judge has thrown out most of the federal corruption charges against Puerto Rico’s governor, who faces trial in February for alleged campaign finance violations.
The judge on Monday dismissed 15 of the 24 charges against Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila. All but two were dismissed with prejudice and cannot be filed again.
Defense attorney Thomas Green described the ruling as a blow to prosecutors.
“There’s no common thread that weaves all the charges together, but it certainly cuts out a big part of the case,” Green said by telephone from his office in Washington.
A federal indictment handed down in March accuses Acevedo of conspiracy to violate federal campaign laws and defraud the Internal Revenue Service, and giving false testimony to the FBI. The governor, who has denied any wrongdoing, faces trial Feb. 9.
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Birmingham, Ala. Mayor Indicted on Corruption Charges

The mayor of Detroit is currently behind bars. Could Birmingham’s mayor be far behind?

By Charles J. Dean
Birmingham News
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -Over an almost five-year period, Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford “corruptly solicited, accepted and agreed to accept money, cash and checks” totaling nearly $250,000 in return for funneling millions of county taxpayer dollars to two political allies, prosecutors allege in a 101-count federal indictment unsealed today.
The indictment charges Langford, along with friends Bill Blount and Al LaPierre, with conspiracy, bribery, fraud, money laundering and filing false tax returns.
The charges stem from a long-running federal investigation surrounding bond deals that were at the center of Jefferson County’s upgrade of its sewer system, deals that have left the county billions of dollars in debt and on the verge of bankruptcy.
For Full Story

Read Indictment

Ex-FBI Agent Mike Mason Says Rumors of Him Taking Over FBI Are Ridiculous

Mike Mason/fbi photo

Mike Mason/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Under the category of “you’ve got to be kidding me” rumors, comes the latest: former FBI agent Michael Mason is being considered to take over as director of the FBI.
On Monday afternoon, Mason told ticklethewire.com that the rumor was ridiculous. He said he’s happy as director of security for Verizon where he’s said to be making big big bucks. (He’s got two kids he needs to put through college).
“This is the first I’ve heard of this,” he said. “I don’t have any interest in the position.”
He said he’s a big fan of director Robert Mueller III and hopes he “does what he said he was going to do and serves the whole term.”
Mason, a 23-year veteran of the bureau, stepped down as executive assistant director of the criminal branch in December 2007 to take the job at Verizon.
Eric Holder, who is President-elect Barack Obama’s choice for Attorney General, could not be reached Monday for comment.

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Atty. Gen. Candidate Eric Holder Considered High Achiever in Life

In Washington there are plenty agents and prosecutors who have good things to say about Eric Holder. But some Congressional members might rough him up a little during the confirmation hearings over his role in the pardon of Marc Rich during the Clinton regime.

By JAVIER C. HERNANDEZ
New York Times

Nine-year-old Eric Holder sat in the basement of his family’s house in Queens, enraptured by the inaugural words of the fresh-faced president from Massachusetts. The broadcast on the tiny television set faded in and out, muffled by the steady roar of jetliners at nearby La Guardia Airport, but John F. Kennedy’s call for hope and change was enough to stir the boy’s desire to serve.
By ninth grade, Ricky, as he was known to his friends, was standing before his peers in the auditorium making his case for student body president. In high school, towering above his classmates and teachers at 6 feet 3 inches tall, he passionately debated how to rid African-Americans of their second-class status.
Now, four decades later, Eric Himpton Holder Jr., 57, the Bronx-born son of Miriam, an Episcopal church secretary from New Jersey, and Eric Sr., a real estate broker from Barbados, is expected to be nominated on Monday by President-elect Barack Obama to become the attorney general of the United States. He would be the first black person to do so.
For Full Story

Read Washington Post Editorial on What the Next A.G. Must Do

Muslim-Americans in Detroit Area Have Concerns About New FBI Powers

In an area known for its large Arab population, any rules giving the FBI more power has always raised concerns. Here’s the latest.

By Niraj Wariko
Detroit Free Press
DETROIT — Beginning Monday, the FBI will get increased power to investigate suspected terrorists under revised administrative guidelines that some Muslim Americans and civil rights advocates in metro Detroit are concerned may target innocent people.
The new Justice Department guidelines will allow FBI agents, for the first time in terrorism-related cases, to use undercover sources to gather information in preliminary probes, interview people without identifying who they are and spy on suspects without first getting clear evidence of wrongdoing.
They’re the most significant changes the Bush administration has made since 2003 to rules that govern security investigations in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
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OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

The FBI and the Corruption Eradication Commission in Indonesia Sign Pact For Technical Cooperation (Jakarta Post)