Links

Columnists



Site Search


Entire (RSS)
Comments (RSS)

Archive Calendar

February 2009
S M T W T F S
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728

Guides

How to Become a Bounty Hunter



Archive for February, 2009

Homeland Sec. Hopes To Start Building Virtual Fence At Mexico Border in March

The government should have had this up by 2008. Will its latest effort succeed? We shall see.

By Brady McCombs
Arizona Daily Star
TUCSON –Homeland Security hopes to begin construction next month on the latest version of its much-maligned and costly “virtual fence” on the U.S.-Mexico border.
More than two years have passed and more than $400 million in taxpayers’ dollars have been spent on the Secure Border Initiative Net (SBInet) project, which still hasn’t produced an effective virtual fence.
The only system operating along the border is the “Project 28” prototype near Sasabe, southwest of Tucson, a grid of nine sensor towers that is still plagued with problems. It will be replaced by the new version – whenever it goes up.
SBInet officials planned to have a pair of new and improved virtual fences up in Arizona by the end of 2008 but the projects were abruptly stopped in August.
“It’s very disheartening,” said Christopher Bronk, a research fellow at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, who has closely followed SBInet. “I don’t think we can afford to make those kinds of spends without seeing results.”

For Full Story

Las Vegas Man Who Claims to Be ex-FBI Informant Files $54 Million Lawsuit Against Government

Anthony Martin claims his cover was blown. Does he have a legitimate claim? The answers may surface in a lawsuit he’s filed in which he also calls the witness protection program a “sham.”

By Ken Ritter
Associated Press
LAS VEGAS – A man who claims to be a former FBI informant has filed a $54 million federal lawsuit against the government, saying his life is in danger because his identity was compromised after he went undercover to help the agency.
“I was disclosed,” said Anthony Martin, 63, who described himself as a retired bank robber and convicted felon.
Martin said he volunteered to work undercover for the FBI after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He said he was installed as a taxi driver in Las Vegas and provided information that led to the arrests and convictions of at least four “people entering the country illegally” on charges including fabricating false passports.
For Full Story

Read Federal Lawsuit

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

About 1 American A Week Is Being Murdered In Mexico

The drug wars, the homicide, the violence south of the border is taking its toll on Americans.

By LISE OLSEN
Houston Chronicle
HOUSTON — A 22-year-old man from Houston and his 16-year-old friend are hauled out of a minivan in Mexico, shot execution style by thugs in a black Lincoln Continental, and left dead in the dirt.
The body of a 65-year-old nurse from Brownsville is found floating in the Rio Grande after a visit to a Mexican beauty salon.
An American retiree, an ex-Marine, is stabbed to death as he camps on a Baja beach with his dog.
More than 200 U.S. citizens have been slain in Mexico’s escalating wave of violence since 2004 – an average of nearly one killing a week, according to a Houston Chronicle investigation into the deaths.
Rarely are the killers captured.
The U.S. State Department tracks most American homicides abroad, but the department releases minimal statistics and doesn’t include victims’ names or details about the deaths. The Chronicle examined hundreds of records to document the personal tragedies behind them.
For Full Story

Some Agents Critical of “DEA” Show

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — The show “DEA” on Spike TV has all the hallmarks of a public relations bonanza for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Slick editing, heart-thumping action and heroic portrayals of gun-toting agents.

In fact, the DEA credited  the first season with generating more than 13 million hits on its website and helping bolster its image and recruiting efforts.

But some agents — and some retired ones– aren’t so gung ho. In fact, they’re downright critical of the one- hour show, which launched its second  season Feb. 10 and is being produced by Size 12 Productions and Al Roker Entertainment – yes, Al Roker as in the Today show’s morning jester.

For one, the critics say they’re uncomfortable seeing the inner workings of the agency exposed on tv, and they’re none too happy watching potential informants on the tube even if faces are blurred and the informants sign waivers to grab 15 minutes of questionable fame.

“I wouldn’t let anybody do that with my informants,” said one veteran DEA agent, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

On top of all that, current and former agents say the show oversimplifies the agency’s mission by showing quick hit cases –or what’s known in the business as buy-busts — instead of the agency’s main staple: long-term investigations involving big-time national and international drug traffickers. Those cases often involve months or even years of investigative work.

Lawrence Gallina, former chief of domestic operations for the DEA, who retired from the agency in 2002, commented on the show, saying he fears that people who know little about the DEA “may come up with the wrong impression of what the agency does.”

Admittedly, he said, it’s part of the DEA’s mission to work with local law enforcement tasks forces on smaller cases that impact the community. “It’s an important function, but not the primary function” of DEA, which is to “bring to justice international and national major drug trafficking organizations.”

Whatever the shortcomings, DEA officials say the show is a good thing.

“We’re trying to be more transparent in the 9/11 era, ” says DEA agent Rich Isaacson, a spokesman for the Detroit office. “The DEA is trying a lot of different projects to get our name out in the public eye, similar to what the FBI has been doing for years.”

The agency is promoting the second season with Hollywood hype.

In a recent press release, special agent in charge Mary Irene Cooper, DEA’s chief of Congressional Affairs, said: “If you liked the first season of ‘DEA’, you’ll love the second season. Season II delivers more episodes, more action, more dope and more money than viewers have ever seen before. You’ll have a front row seat to DEA’s hard-charging, relentless special agents risking their lives for the mission. They’ll captivate you with their gritty determination and leave you wanting more.”

Last year’s show was in Detroit and featured DEA agents working with local law enforcement on a drug task force. This season, the show will take place in the Northern New Jersey area – but not actually in Newark itself.

DEA agent Douglas S. Collier, a spokesman for the New Jersey Division, says this season, unlike last year’s, will show a different side of the DEA.

“We’ll show we’re all moms and dads and uncles and sisters and brothers,” he said. ” You’ll see more of the human side of the agents and task force officers.”

Not all the DEA divisions around the country are clamoring to be featured in the show. In fact, after the first season in Detroit, sources said, some divisions chiefs around the country – particularly ones headed by old-school agents – wanted nothing to do with being featured on the show. The producers finally got the New Jersey division to bite.

There’s a big reason why the show has focused on small “buy-busts” instead of big investigations.

The Justice Department has forbidden the DEA from exposing any cases on TV that would end up in federal court. So all the cases on the show go to state court, where often times, the cases are smaller and more local.

Agent Collier doesn’t dispute the criticism that the show does not fully show the breadth of the DEA’s mission. But he said considering the constraints of doing state cases, the agents had some significant busts.

In all, he said, the show does a good job of showing the dedication and “hard work of the men and women of the DEA.”

Shows featuring law enforcement are nothing knew. There’s the best known one, “Cops”, which first aired in 1989, and often features small time crimes. And ABC just launched a show “Homeland Security USA “, which has been less than impressive.

Lawrence Kobilinsky, a professor of forensic science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York said law enforcement agencies like the exposure.

“These agencies thrive on public relations, especially the FBI,” he said. ” Media attention is everything to these groups. There’s a lot of attention paid to the FBI and not a lot to ATF or DEA. I can understand how they would want a show like this.”

William Coonce, former special agent in charge of the DEA Detroit office, said: “I’m a believer in publicity to get the message of what we do in terms of hard work. We do a good job and we’re corruption free. And I believe we should pump ourselves up.”

But he said there should be limits and the DEA should “not just do it for the Hollywood splash that some shows do.”

And even the DEA agent who was critical of the show exposing potential informants, said he sees an upside to the program.

“It’s good to get your name out there,” he said, particularly when it comes to getting Congressional funding for the agency.

” I actually think they should have done something like this years ago. My thing is the FBI is always out in front, even when they get bad publicity, they spin it.”

But another DEA agent simply sees little benefit to the show.

“A lot of it, I thought it was kind of hokey,” he said. “Basically what good can come of it?”

The show airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on Spike TV

FBI Confirms Frozen Remains of Lab Mice With Deadly Plague Were Lost

Most of the time, no one could give a rat’s behind about any missing mice. But when they’re infected with a deadly strain of plague, that’s another story.

BY TED SHERMAN AND JOSH MARGOLIN
Star-Ledger Staff
NEWARK — The frozen remains of two lab mice infected with deadly strains of plague were lost at a bioterror research facility at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark — the same high-security lab where three infected mice went missing four years ago.
The latest incident, which led to an FBI investigation, occurred in December but was never disclosed to the public.
University officials said there was no health threat.
The remains of the dead mice were contained in a red hazardous waste bag being stored in a locked freezer, according to the researchers. But an animal care supervisor could not account for them while preparing to sterilize and incinerate them.

For Full Story

U.S. Marshals Capture “Catch Me If You Can” Con Man in Cinci

Samuel Nickolas acted out occupational fantasies most of us only dream about or pay money to see in the movies like “Catch Me If You Can” starring Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio.

By Dan Horn
Cincinnati Enquirer
CINCINATTI — Federal authorities say that when Samuel Nickolas wanted a different life, he made one up.
Over the past six years, they say, the Harrison man pretended to be an airline pilot, an FBI agent and a medical doctor. They say he even performed a non-invasive medical procedure a few months ago after talking his way into a local doctor’s office.
His brief career as a physician ended abruptly Friday when U.S. Marshals arrested Nickolas for the third time since 2002 on charges of making false statements.
“We think he has a serious problem,” said Tim Oakley, an assistant U.S. attorney in Cincinnati.
U.S. Magistrate Tim Black ordered Nickolas to get a psychological evaluation and placed him under house arrest until his case is resolved in federal court.
For Full Story

A Job Recruiter Is Not Your Best Friend: Dos and Don’ts

Recently while interviewing a candidate for a senior-level communications position at a Fortune 500 company, I was reminded of the golden rule when interviewing with recruiters. DO NOT bare your soul to a recruiter and expect he/she to be your best friend. When I asked the candidate how his subordinates would describe him, he replied, “I think they would probably say I’m a dick.” He was trying to be funny and if we were friends sharing war stories over a beer, it might have been. But that off-the-cuff remark cost him the job.

Don’t make the same mistake. Think of your interview with a recruiter as a dress rehearsal for the big show. It is your chance to perfect your 30 second elevator speech and convince us that you are the best candidate for the job.

Our role is to assess your qualifications and cultural fit as a candidate for searches we are conducting on behalf of our clients. We work for our clients, not the candidates. Everything you say and do impacts our decision to move you forward or not in the process.

Here are some “Do’s and Don’ts of Headhunter Etiquette” developed by The Repovich-Reynolds Group to ensure you do not commit any gaffes with the executive search community:

DO

DON’T

Treat the recruiter like you would the client.

Bare your soul and expect the recruiter to be your best friend

Be punctual and courteous

Manipulate your background and experience to fit the opportunity

Give the recruiter your accurate compensation information

Be arrogant or pretentious. There is a fine line between self confidence and arrogance.

Have an appropriate sense of humor.

Expect the interview to translate into a job offer. The search process is highly competitive.

Your homework

Ramble on when interviewing

Stay in touch with a recruiter by email or phone.

Demean or badmouth your prior employers

Dress professionally

Give yourself all the credit. You are part of a team, acknowledge others.

Present yourself in an honest, forthright manner. Speak with confidence.

Assume business casual is appropriate for an interview. I’ve seen good candidates eliminated because of how they dressed.

Be specific about your contributions to an organization.

Forget your table manners

Present a clear and concise resume that emphasizes your accomplishments

Bombard recruiters with materials on your accomplishments unless they ask for it.

Turn your cell phone off during interviews

Circumvent the recruiter and call the potential employer yourself.

Send a thank you note following an interview. Email is acceptable.

Take rejection personally. Use it as a learning moment to make your next best career move.


Sleeping With the Fishes? Dead Fish Shows Up At D.C. Homeland Security Office

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — It was like a scene out of the Godfather.
A letter containing a dead fish showed up Friday at a downtown office of the Department of Homeland Security.
The letter, which also contained white powder, was addressed to an employee.
The Associated Press reported that FBI Washington Field Office spokeswoman Katherine Schweit said the letter was been sent to a lab for examination and people were screened who came in contact with it.