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Archive for July, 2009

New Orleans Man Pleads Guilty to 2008 Killing of DEA Agent Attending Drug Conference

Thomas Bryne/DEA photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A 47-year-old man  pleaded guilty Thursday to the 2008 slaying of Houston DEA Agent Thomas J. Byrne,  who was visiting New Orleans to attend a Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force conference.

Ameal Parker, aka Ameal Varnado of New Orleans, pleaded guilty in the slaying of agent Byrne, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Orleans announced. He faces a 30-year prison sentence under the plea agreement, which must be approved by the judge.

Authorities said that  Byrne was beaten during a robbery in New Orleans in the early morning hours of Aug. 28. He died two days later at Tulane University Hospital.

Ameal Parker/dea photo

Ameal Parker/dea photo

Bryne was married and had four sons.

Read Washington Post Obit from Sept. 5, 2008

Read DEA Press Release

Oye: Feds Arrest 44 Including 3 N.J. Mayors, 2 Lawmakers and Rabbis in Scandal

Well, just when you thought the state of Illinois and Louisiana had New Jersey beat as the most crooked state…Now we have mayors and assemblyman and rabbis involved in a major league scandal. Oye.

new-jersey

By Joe Ryan
Newark Star-Ledger
NEWARK –– Federal authorities arrested 44 people in New Jersey and New York today in a broad-ranging corruption and international money laundering investigation that led to charges against two N.J. assemblyman and the mayors of Hoboken, Secaucus and Ridgefield.

Politicians accused of taking bribes include Assemblyman L. Harvey Smith (D-Hudson), Assemblyman Daniel Van Pelt (R-Ocean), Ridgefield Mayor Anthony Suarez, Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano, Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell. The FBI and IRS investigation also ensnared rabbis from the Syrian Jewish communities in Deal and Brooklyn.

The wide-ranging investigation also charged Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, of Brooklyn, with “conspiring to broker the sale of a human kidney for a transplant, at a cost of $160,000 to the transplant recipient,” according to federal authorities. The connection of they kidney sale to the other aspects of the investigation, however, has not been made clear.

Rosenbaum began meeting with the FBI informant and a female undercover agent in 2008. The pair– who were posing as a businessman and his secretary– told Rosenbaum they were willing to pay to find a donor for the woman’s fictitious critically ill uncle.

For Full Story

Read 12-Page Press Release

Second Press Release

Some of the Criminal Complaints

Rosenbaum Complaint

Fish, Schwartz, Pollock, Weber Complaint


Homeland Security Relaunches Tech-Savvy Website That Includes YouTube Videos

Being tech-savvy shouldn’t be an option these days. All the federal agencies need to jump in the pool.

homeland-logo

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Homeland Security Department relaunched its Web site Wednesday and became the first Cabinet-level agency to follow the tech-savvy White House directives on social media.

President Barack Obama’s aides have been urging agencies to add interactive components to their Web sites, such as videos and blogs. But it’s been a slow start for a team that harnessed the Internet during the presidential campaign to organize supporters and deliver the White House.

The White House touted the Homeland Security Department’s online presence as a model for other agencies.

For Full Story

Read DHS Press Release on the Site

One of the YouTube Videos Posted On the Site

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZmCM1dKTAY

LA Times Editorial: The Inescapable Politics of Selecting U.S. Attys

Sen. Leahy meets with Eric Holder before confirmation (left)/official photo

Sen. Leahy meets with Eric Holder before Holder confirmation (left)/official photo

Los Angeles Times
Editorial Page

During the uproar over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys by the Bush administration, an ordinary citizen could be excused for thinking that Democrats opposed any role for partisan politics in the operation of the Justice Department.

That naive notion has been dispelled as President Obama moves to install his own appointees as chief federal prosecutors.

It doesn’t follow that Obama and Eric H. Holder Jr.will countenance the abuses that occurred in the Bush Justice Department, some of which are under criminal investigation. But it demonstrates that, regardless of which party is in power, U.S. attorneys will not be chosen by merit alone.

To Read More

Other U.S. Atty. News

75 Years Later FBI Still Trying to Debunk Myths About John Dillinger

John Dillinger/fbi photo

John Dillinger/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON –-Seventy years after FBI agents gunned down the infamous bank robber John Dillinger in Chicago, the publicity conscious agency is still working to debunk what it considers the many myths surrounding Dillinger.

The FBI press office has now posted on its website a page entitled “The Top 10 Dillinger Myths”.

Here is one.

Myth #10: Dillinger was a “Robin Hood” type criminal, a romantic outlaw.

Dillinger certainly had charm and charisma, but he was no champion of the poor or harmless thief—he was a hardened and vicious criminal. Dillinger stormed police stations in search of weapons and bulletproof vests. He robbed banks and stole cars. He shot at police officers (and may have killed one) and regularly used innocent bystanders as human shields to escape the law. Worse yet, he stood by as his ruthless gang members shot and killed people, including law enforcement officials. And what of his ill-gotten gains? They were used to line his own pockets and those of his partners in crime, not those of impoverished Americans in the midst of the Great Depression.

To Read the Rest click here.

Also Read Rex Tomb’s Column on the Movie “Public Enemies”

Dillinger's Partners in Crime: These are some of the men who worked with Dillinger at various points in his criminal career. Scroll over their pictures to learn more.

American Gave al-Qaeda Info on N.Y. Commuter Trains

The war on terrorism has not been an easy task. But it’s only made more difficult when Americans like Vinas  help out major terrorist organizations.

pakistan-map

By Sebastian Rotella and Josh Meyer
Tribune Newspapers
WASHINGTON — An American from New York’s Long Island who was captured while fighting as an al-Qaida militant in Pakistan has pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to commit murder outside the United States and is cooperating with authorities, according to a federal indictment and interviews with U.S. and European officials.

Bryant Neal Vinas, 26, is one of a handful of Americans known to have made the trek to al-Qaida’s secret Pakistani compounds, and his cooperation is opening a rare window into the world of Western militants in the network’s hide-outs, anti-terrorism officials said.

Vinas has admitted to meeting al-Qaida operations chiefs and giving them information for a potential attack on New York commuter trains, conversations that resulted in an alert in November, said the officials, who requested anonymity because the case is ongoing.

For Full Story

Ex-DEA Official Mike Braun Says Mexican Cartels Lashing Out “Like Never Before”

Mike Braun

Mike Braun

By Mike Braun
Security DeBrief

William Booth’s article in the Washington Post, “12 Federal Agents Are Slain in Mexico,” highlights yet another act of desperation on the part of the Mexican drug cartels in response to Mexico President Felipe Calderon’s strategy to break the backs of the cartels-once and for all.

The cartels are lashing out like never before, because they are slowly and systematically being backed into a corner from which there is no escape.

President Calderon’s attack has been relentless and unyielding. The cartels have never before experienced the likes of President Calderon, and to say they are feeling the heat is an understatement.

Taking on powerful drug cartels with a global reach is dirty business, and the work ahead for Mexico’s security institutions is most likely going to get even nastier before meaningful signs of improvement are witnessed. However, there is hope.

To Read More

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Report Says Fed Govt Cybersecurity Falling Behind

It’s been no secret that the federal government is behind in updating it’s cybersecurity. What kind of disaster is it going to take before the government puts it in fifth gear and catches up?

computer1

By Joe Davidson
Washington Post Federal Diary Columnist
WASHINGTON — Sometimes Uncle Sam acts even older than he looks.

When it comes to the quickly advancing world of cybersecurity, for example, Sam can be as modern as a floppy disk.

That was considered the high-tech way of storing data in 1988, the last time one of the government’s computer science job descriptions was updated, according to a new report. The description makes no mention of the World Wide Web, because, of course, that term had not yet been coined.

It’s time for Sam to get with the new world, and the report, released Wednesday by a nonprofit organization and a consultant, is pushing him to do just that. “Cyber In-Security” says the federal government is falling behind in the race to keep its computer operations safe because the workforce has too few well-trained cybersecurity experts.

For Full Story