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Archive for April, 2009

Commentary: 14 Years After the Oklahoma Bombing, We Must Not Forget the Potential of Homegrown Terrorism

 

Allan Lengel

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — One Friday, two days after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, I was sitting at my desk at the Detroit News  in downtown Detroit when I got a tip that the FBI was raiding a farmhouse in Michigan, and it had something to do with the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma.

In short time, I hopped in a car with another reporter and rushed northward up I-75 to Decker, Mi., a rural farming community two hours outside Detroit, where a guy named Tim McVeigh had hung out with two brothers named James and Terry Nichols.

By the time I arrived, the quiet little community,  flush with lush farms and pickup trucks with rifle racks,  was swarming with reporters and television trucks. Everyone – including the locals — was fixated on the farmhouse nearby that had been  cordoned off and was full of FBI and ATF agents gathering evidence.

I stood on the dusty farm road that day thinking that homegrown terrorism had stormed America in a way never seen before. Eight federal agents were dead. Another 160 in the federal building were too.

I spent the next week in the area of the state known as “The  Thumb”, tracking down leads, staying in a motel in nearby Cass City, where you checked in at the front desk of the bowling alley across the street. (I bowled one of my highest games – 217).

After that week, I went up every week to follow up on leads and to talk to James Nichols, the brother of convicted bomber Terry Nichols. I usually stopped by the Decker Tavern, grabbed a cheap can of beer and talked to folks. The bartender remembered serving beers to Tim McVeigh. She even recalled his brand.

The first night there, a fellow reporter John Bebow and I headed to the Decker Tavern to talk to locals. A Detroit News photographer accompanied us, Joe DeVera, who was Filipino. The bar and the town had suddenly been transformed from an all white community to a United Nations; foreign reporters from Spain and France; Asians , Black and Jews.

The cash register frantically rang all night at the tavern. But the locals seemed less than enthusiastic.  As Joe, the photographer, headed to the bathroom, an elderly local patron at the bar turned to another and noted that there was a “Gook” in the bar.

It struck me that some of the locals had spent their lives avoiding the rest of America – particularly Detroit. Now, with the snap of a finger, the rest of America had come to them. It was an eye-opener to meet the local militias, the unknown Americans that hated the federal government, the farmers who felt they’d been screwed by the government.

The next day, on a Saturday, the swarm of reporters returned to the farmhouse. There were undercover ATF agents trying to blend in, trying to meet the local militias. I knew some of them from back in Detroit. In at least one instance, one those undercover agents got an invite to dinner at one of the locals. When he saw me on a dirt road near the farm, he gave me a look like “stay away, don’t blow my cover.” I obliged.

Eventually, Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols were convicted.

Still, to this day, I’m not sure the whole story has been told.

Whatever the case, it’s interesting to note how the homegrown terrorists quickly took a backseat to al Qaeda and the likes after Sept. 11, 2001. For the majority in America, the threat of the Tim McVeighs seemed to have faded.

But one thing we must remember: As unemployment rises, as the economy sinks and as hate groups try to use the Obama election as a recruiting tool, America and federal agencies like the FBI and ATF must not forget or take lightly these domestic hate groups or the fringe members or the “lone wolf” wannabes.  You just never know what they’re capable of.

Just ask the Oklahomans.

Oklahomans Commemorate 14th Anniversary of Bombing that Killed 8 Federal Agents and 160 Others

Bomber Tim McVeigh

Bomber Tim McVeigh

It’s been 14 years since eight federal agents and 160 other people were killed in the Oklahoma City bombing that shook the security of this nation. The landscape of terrorism has changed since then, but people in Oklahoma will never forget that day.

By JAMES S. TYREE
Tulsa World
OKLAHOMA CITY – Susan Walton suffered a facial skull fracture, nerve damage behind both eyes, a broken nose, multiple jaw fractures, six busted teeth, a ruptured spleen, and legs crushed beneath both knees.

She was lucky.

Walton, of northwest Oklahoma City, sustained the injuries at the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building that killed 168 people. Susan and her husband, Richard Walton, and others filled the Oklahoma City National Memorial lawn during the 14th annual remembrance ceremony on a cold, blustery Sunday morning.

“We come for the same reason they built the memorial – for us to remember and to have hope for the future, and to see the people we’ve made friends with over the years whose lives were affected,” said Walton, who is doing well now, following years of recovery.

Gov. Brad Henry and Jane Lute, U.S. Department of Homeland Security deputy secretary, attended the 55-minute event that was more spiritual than political in nature.

Aryans in Idaho Say Obama “Greatest Recruiting Tool Ever”

Federal law enforcement has watched in the past year as chatter on hate-based websites increased with the popularity of Barack Obama. Obama may be a nightmare come true for the Aryan members. But it’s appears to be a dream come true for organizers trying to ramp up membership.

idaho
By The Associated Press
COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — The Aryan Nations has returned to northern Idaho with what it is calling a “world headquarters” and a recruitment campaign.

Coeur d’Alene resident Jerald O’Brien, who has a large swastika tattoo on his scalp, is one of the leaders of the white supremacist group and said he expects membership to grow because of the election of President Barack Obama.

He told The Spokesman-Review newspaper that the president is the “greatest recruiting tool ever.”

Residents of a Coeur d’Alene subdivision found recruitment fliers on their lawns Friday and O’Brien said more fliers will be distributed. He said the group has “several handfuls” of members in the city.

The fliers show a young girl asking her father “Why did those dark men take mommy away?”

But many in the region reject the group.

“I saw Aryan Nations and put it in the trash,” said Garvin Jones. “What’s wrong with these people? Give me a break. I bet if you went back in their family history, not one is 100 percent white.”

The newspaper reported that most people interviewed about the fliers declined to be identified for fear of retribution.

For Full Story

New New Orleans FBI Chief David Welker Low Key So Far

David Welker

David Welker

David Welker, head of the New Orleans FBI, may be low key, but if things goes as planned in a state ripe with corruption, he’ll be a household name before you know it.
By Brendan McCarthy
New Orleans Times-Picayune
NEW ORLEANS — Like countless times before, the news conference began with six or so middle-age men dressed in dark, natty suits standing behind the lectern in a nondescript room, high up in a federal office building.

An aide handed out a press release, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten delved into facts of the criminal case, and down the line, the head of each law enforcement agency stepped to the microphone and lauded the efforts of his subordinates.

Except for one. The silent one was the newly appointed head of the local FBI office, perhaps the most powerful man in the room — and possibly the only one who doesn’t care whether you know it.

Meet David Welker, new face of the FBI in New Orleans.

Welker, 54, carries the lofty title of special agent in charge, but he isn’t easily recognized in a sidewalk crowd or on the society page.

A native of Shamokin, Pa., with a degree in Bible studies, Welker left the manicured streets and suburban sprawl of Tampa, Fla., last summer for a city where public corruption seems a pastime and violent crime is a brand. Expectations are high; citizens expect a steady flow of indictments.

In his few months in New Orleans, the questions have become commonplace. What’s next?

“People are waiting for that big one to fall,” Welker acknowledged.

For Full Story

Selection Process For D.C. U.S. Atty Slot Begins; Some Names Have Already Surfaced

Ron Machen's name has surfaced in contest

Ron Machen's name has surfaced in contest

The current U.S. Attorney Jeff Taylor is well respected and doing a good job, but there’s no way D.C. Del Eleanor Holmes Norton, who has had limited power as a member of Congress, is going to pass up an opportunity to exert her influence and help select a new U.S. Attorney. So far, according to the Legal Times, some names have alreadyh surfaced including former prosecutor Ron Machen  and Monty Wilkinson, who recently left the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C. to work for Atty. Gen. Eric Holder. This should be an interesting contest. 

By Joe Palazzolo
Legal Times
WASHINGTON –The search for the next U.S. attorney for the District of Colum­bia has begun.

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) opened the application process on April 10. The nominating commission she resurrected from the Clinton years will be accepting applications for the post through May 11. (The application can be downloaded from Norton’s Web site.)

The 17-member commission is staggering its work by focusing on the U.S. attorney slot first. Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe’s Pauline Schneider, who chairs the commission, says Norton could make applications available for three vacancies on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia as soon as the end of this week.

Formally known as the Federal Law Enforcement Nominating Commission, the body will also review candidates for U.S. marshal and other federal officials assigned to the District.

Several names have already surfaced for U.S. attorney. Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr partner Ron Machen, McDermott Will & Emery partner Roy Austin Jr., and D.C. Supe­rior Judge Thomas Motley-all veterans of the office-are said to be considering a run for the job. Monty Wilkinson, who recently left the office’s No. 3 position to join Attorney General Eric Holder Jr.’s staff, has also been named as a potential candidate by several former D.C. federal prosecutors.

For Full Story

FBI Names Agent Daniel Roberts Assist. Director of Criminal Justice Information Services

fbi1By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — Daniel D. Roberts, a Detroit native, has been named assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division.

Roberts, who  replaces the retiring Thomas E. Bush, III,  was most recently Deputy Assistant Director of the Criminal Investigative Division, the FBI said.

“Dan brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this position and will continue the legacy of CJIS that involves sharing data with over 18,000 law enforcement partners,” FBI Director Robert E. Mueller III said in a statement.

Roberts started his career in 1987 in Chicago, where he served as a primary SWAT team member and as a firearms instructor, the FBI said.

Eventually, in March 2000, Roberts was assigned to FBI headquarters as a unit chief of the Chief of the Violent Crimes/Fugitive Unit. He later became an assistant special ageent in charge in Salt Lake City
In June 2004, Roberts became special agent in charge of the Detroit FBI office.

History: J. Edgar Hoover and Martin Luther King: Part 8 in a Series

Controversy Continues Over Release of Justice Dept. Torture Memos

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNlEHUAXlNA