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Archive for January, 2009

Fed Probe into Gov. Richardson Case Gives Rare Glimpse into Wrongdoing in Municipal Bond Biz

Gov. Richardson

Gov. Richardson

More dirt on the financial dealings in this country can’t make us feel very good.

By MARY WILLIAMS WALSH
New York Times

The federal investigation that prompted Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico to withdraw his nomination as commerce secretary offers a rare glimpse into a long-simmering investigation of possible bid-rigging, tax evasion and other wrongdoing throughout the municipal bond business.
Three federal agencies and a loose consortium of state attorneys general have for several years been gathering evidence of what appears to be collusion among the banks and other companies that have helped state and local governments take approximately $400 billion worth of municipal notes and bonds to market each year.
For Full Story

House Votes to Continue Purusing U.S. Atty. Firings

Administrations are changing. But Congress still wants to get to the bottom of the U.S. Attorney firings that tarnished the Justice Department.

By Lisa Mascaro
Las Vegas Sun
WASHINGTON – The untold story of the firing of Nevada’s former U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden may yet be unraveled. The House on Tuesday voted to continue a lawsuit seeking testimony from the Bush administration about the politicizing of the Justice Department.
As part of a routine package of rules governing the opening of the new Congress, the House agreed to continue the lawsuit it brought last year after President George W. Bush’s former officials ignored subpoenas to produce documents and appear before the House Judiciary Committee.
The move by the Democratic-controlled House is an assertion of congressional authority after several years of what scholars see as executive branch overreach by the Bush administration.
Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley said Congress should do no less.
“A very fine U.S. attorney from the state of a Nevada was unceremoniously removed for no reason – I would like to know why, I would like it top be made public and I would like those responsible punished,” Berkley said. “By passing this rule we have assured this will be done.”
For Full Story


OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Blackberries, Satellite Phones, Gmail: Terrorist Tools in the 21st Century

Satellite phones and caves. Blackberries and 8th Century ideology. Welcome to terrorism in the 21st century.

By Kathy Shaidle
FrontPageMagazine.com

Following the Islamic terror attack in Mumbai, India in November, it was revealed that the tech-savvy terrorists used BlackBerries and Google Earth satellite-imaging to plan and carry out their atrocities.
It was the latest example of the West’s enemies employing 21st century technology to spread its 8th century ideology. It is also the most visible manifestation of a phenomenon that first came to the fore on September 11, 2001, and is spreading under the radar of ordinary people. Experts, however, are increasingly concerned about the spread of jihadist jujitsu – that is, of Muslim terrorists’ use of Western technology to destroy the West itself.
For example, the monitoring service SITE Intelligence Group revealed last month that Islamic extremists are being instructed on how to use the popular video-sharing site YouTube as a way to disseminate propaganda videos.
For Full Story

WOW! Hard to Believe You Can Spend So Much Time Behind Bars Without Being Criminally Charged

It’s hard to believe you can spend such long stretches behind bars without ever being charged with a crime. But here’s some tales.

By ASHBY JONES
The Wall Street Journal

One can spend a long time in jail in the U.S. without ever being charged with a crime.
It happened to H. Beatty Chadwick, a former Philadelphia-area lawyer, who has been behind bars for nearly 14 years without being charged.
Businessman Manuel Osete spent nearly three years in an Arizona jail without ever receiving a criminal charge. And investment manager Martin Armstrong faced a similar situation when he was held for more than six years in a Manhattan jail.
All three men were jailed for civil contempt, a murky legal concept. Some scholars say it is too often abused by judges, to the detriment of those charged and their due-process rights. “These results of too many civil-contempt confinements are flatly outrageous and often unconstitutional,” says Jayne Ressler, a professor at Brooklyn Law School.

For Full Story

Dept. of Homeland Security to Move East of the River in D.C.

If any place in the city could use a fresh injection of life it’s Anacostia, the city’s often forgotten section.

By Mary Beth Sheridan
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — After years of battling historic preservationists, the federal government won approval yesterday to build a massive headquarters for the Department of Homeland Security on a 176-acre hilltop site east of the Anacostia River.
The $3.4 billion headquarters would be one of the largest construction projects in the Washington area since the Pentagon was built in the 1940s. Advocates say it would generate economic activity in one of the city’s poorer corners and provide a secure workplace for 14,000 Homeland Security employees scattered across the Washington area.
For Full Story

Informant Says John Gotti’s Neighbor Was Dissolved in Barrel of Acid

Just what everyone suspected for decades. Now a snitch is finally confirming it all.

By JOHN MARZULLI
New York Daily News
NEW YORK — The corpse of John Gotti’s Howard Beach neighbor – murdered after he accidentally killed the gangster’s 12-year-old son in a traffic accident – was dissolved in a barrel of acid, an informant says.
John Favara’s grisly fate is disclosed in court papers filed Tuesday in the upcoming racketeering trial of reputed Gambino soldier Charles (Charlie Canig) Carneglia.
He has long been suspected of getting rid of Favara’s body after the father of two was shot in March 1980 on orders of the late Gambino crime boss. Favara’s body has never been found.
Carneglia told a Gambino family associate, who is a government witness, that he disposed of the body by putting it in a barrel of acid, Assistant Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Roger Burlingame said.
For Full Story

Read Court Document

Obama Pick for Office of Legal Counsel is Harsh Critic of Bush Admin. Interrogation Tactics

Dawn Johnsen/university photo

Dawn Johnsen/university photo

Obama is making some key legal appointments who are likely to reverse many substantial and controversial Bush policies. Here’s one of those people.

By ERIC LICHTBLAU
New York Times
WASHINGTON – When Dawn Johnsen read a newly disclosed Justice Department legal opinion last April that blessed the president’s broad power to authorize rough interrogation tactics, she was outraged.
The legal memorandum, she wrote in a blog entry, was “shockingly flawed,” the constitutional arguments were “bogus,” the broad reading of presidential authority “outlandish,” and the “horrific acts” it encouraged against prisoners were probably illegal.
“Where is the outrage, the public outcry?!” Ms. Johnsen, a constitutional law professor at Indiana University, demanded in the posting.
Now, Ms. Johnsen will have the chance to overturn some of the legal opinions she so harshly condemned. President-elect Barack Obama said this week that he would nominate her to lead the Office of Legal Counsel, the Justice Department office that produced a series of hotly debated legal opinions on presidential power in the war on terror. She led the office on an acting basis during the Clinton administration but, in academia, has become one of the office’s fiercest critics.
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Other Stories Of Interest

Full of Baloney: Fed Judge Puts Ala. Sheriff In Own Jail For Pocketing Cash By Skimping on Inmate Meals

Sheriff Bartlett/official photo

Sheriff Bartlett/official photo

This sheriff isn’t the first in the country to pocket money by skimping on meals. But in this case, the sheriff is paying the price. Now that Sheriff Greg Bartlett is locked up in his own jail, there’s a good chance the food will get better. You’d think.

By JAY REEVES
Associated Press Writer
DECATUR, Ala. — A federal judge ordered an Alabama sheriff locked up in his own jail Wednesday after holding him in contempt for failing to adequately feed inmates while profiting from the skimpy meals.
U.S. District Judge U.W. Clemon had court security arrest Morgan County Sheriff Greg Bartlett at the end of a hearing that produced dramatic testimony from skinny prisoners about paper-thin bologna and cold grits.
Bartlett had no comment as he was led from the courtroom. His attorney, Donald Rhead, said he believes the sheriff will be kept away from other inmates and hopes he will be quickly released.
For Full Story

UPDATE: Thursday:  The Associated Press reported that  the sheriff was released from prison Thursday after he submitted a plan to feed the inmates better.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST