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Archive for August, 2009

Panel Dissecting Science in Anthrax Case One Year After Suspect Killed Himself

Suspect Bruce Ivins
Suspect Bruce Ivins

Bruce Ivins was named the sole suspect, but not everyone is convinced of that. The question is will the review of the science in the case shed some light on Ivins? It would be nice if it did.

By Dan Vergano
USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — A year and a day after the death of anthrax mailing suspect Bruce Ivins, a panel met here at the National Academy of Sciences to dissect the investigative science behind the FBI case against him.

“The committee will only review and assess the scientific information,” said Alice Gast of Lehigh University, head of the review panel. “We will offer no view on the guilt or innocence of any person or persons.”

Just such questions, however, surround the still-open case, said Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., who spoke before the panel, which met Thursday and Friday.

“This was the only documented bioterror attack on the U.S.,” Holt said. “Simply stated, the government suffers from a credibility gap that raises questions about the guilt of Dr. Ivins.”

An anthrax vaccine researcher at the United States Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases in Frederick, Md., Ivins died of a drug overdose July 29, 2008.

For Full Story

Waiting Game Continues in Ex-Rep. William Jefferson Trial; Deliberations Resume Today

A verdict is not likely to come until at least Wednesday, and it could take longer. It’s a complicated case and at least a few counts are likely to trigger some spirited conversation during deliberations, which resume Tuesday.

UPDATE: 7 p.m. Wednesday: The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that the jury failed to reach a verdict Tuesday and will resume deliberations Wednesday.

Opening statements in Jefferson trial/courtesy of Art Lien/NBC News
Opening statements in Jefferson trial/courtesy of Art Lien/NBC News

By Jonathan Tilove, and Bruce Alpert
New Orleans Times-Picayune
ALEXANDRIA, VA. — Jurors in the federal corruption trial of former Rep. William Jefferson completed a third day of deliberations Monday without reaching a verdict, extending a nervous time for everyone involved.

“Nothing is worse than waiting for a jury,” said Harry Rosenberg, a former chief federal prosecutor in New Orleans, now in private practice. “There’s nothing you can do.”

“It’s a really bad time,” said Anna Edwards, daughter of former Gov. Edwin Edwards, who sat through three such ordeals with her father — one of which ended in a verdict of innocent, another with a mistrial and the third with the conviction that sent him to prison.

“You are totally and completely out of control,” she said. “Someone else has your life in their hands and they’re trying to figure out what they’re going to do with it, and they are not even people you know. They’re not people who are your friends or enemies. They are just people”

Jefferson, the former nine-term Democratic congressman from New Orleans, is facing 16 counts, including soliciting bribes, depriving his constituents of his “honest service,” money laundering, obstruction of justice and turning his congressional office into a racketeering enterprise.

For Full Story

Retired FBI Agent Jim Ingram Who Investigated Civil Rights Killings Dead At Age 77

It’s nice to leave mark in your life. Jim Ingram did just that.

fbi-globe

By Jerry Mitchell
Jackson Clarion-Ledger
JACKSON, Miss. — Retired FBI agent Jim Ingram, who investigated civil rights killings and once led the state’s Department of Public Safety, died Sunday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 77.

On his death bed last month, Ingram remarked that he’d been praying for God to take him. “I’m ready to go soar with the eagles,” he said.

In his more than 30 years with the FBI, Ingram headed the Chicago and New York offices before serving as deputy assistant director in Washington.

He worked on some of the agency’s best known cases, including the 1963 assassination of President John Kennedy, the 1968 assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the 1978 mass suicide in Guyana of more than 900 followers of cult leader Jim Jones.

For Full Story

OTHER STORIE OF INTEREST

Nevada Man Charged With Running Internet Group on How to Kill Stockton, Calif. Police

stockton-policeBy Rachel Leven
ticklethewire.com

Federal prosecutors say George Jacobsen went far beyond the boundaries of freedom of speech with his MSN Internet group that focused on killing Stockton, Calif. Police officers.

A federal indictment charged the former Stockton resident with creating and managing the MSN group “Ways2KillAStocktonPolice Officer” and “StocktonCityWatch”, which included postings of threatening messages.

“Any time an officer is threatened is a serious matter. However, the defendant’s outrageous online threats to kill Stockton police officers and their children is beyond the pale and worthy of every day he is confined in federal prison,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Lawrence G. Brown in a prepared statement.

Specifically, Jacobsen, 46, of Reno, Nev., faces four counts of transmitting threatening communications in interstate commerce. He could get up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Jacobsen ” created a photo album on ‘Ways2KillAStocktonPoliceOfficer’ entitled ‘hit list’, with photographs of police officers that included messages.” The indictment was announced late last week.

” He created numerous links on that web group which included: ” ’22 Ways to kill a Stockton Police Officer with your hands’, ‘Police Officers Home Address And family info’; ‘How to blow up a police car’, ‘The Joy of Killing Young Republicans’, ‘Revenge on Police officers Children at college’, ’10 Ways To Kill A Police Officer’,  ‘Kill a Cop’, and ‘Stockton Police Officers Damned to Hell’,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a press release.

Authorities say he focused his death threats specifically on at least four police officers.

The FBI investigated the case with the help of the Stockton Police.

Read Indictment

Obama’s Justice Dept. May Be Changing Course on Pornography Cases

hustlerWith all that’s going on in this country — terrorism threats, mortgage fraud, political corruption — it’s not a bad idea for the Justice Dept. to drop this as a high priority.

By Josh Gerstein
Politico

President Barack Obama’s Justice Department has quietly agreed to move a pornography prosecution out of socially conservative Montana to more urbane New Jersey – fueling perceptions by some attorneys that the new administration is stepping back from the aggressive approach the Bush administration took to prosecuting obscenity.

“This is a substantial change of position,” said Louis Sirkin, an attorney who has represented many in the pornography industry, including Hustler publisher Larry Flynt. “The new administration has come in there and made a new determination….It certainly is different than what we have seen in the past.”

“I think it has a lot to do with the change in administration,” said a former federal prosecutor, Laurie Levenson of Loyola Law School. “It makes you wonder how far they were pushing the envelope before…..These cases are fraught with problems and are not a high priority.”

For Full Story

ATF Busts Gun Traffickers With Possible Link to Mexican Drug Cartel

This certainly won’t put an end to the drug violence, but any bust that possibly involves the Mexican drug cartels is good.

gun

By Ruben Vives
Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES — Four men were taken into federal custody this morning after a raid on a gun-trafficking ring that may be tied to a Mexican drug cartel, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

During the investigation, undercover agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) made a series of gun purchases that began in October 2008, according to a criminal complaint.

Several handguns and machine guns, drugs and documents listing the names of customers, as well as distribution locations, were recovered during searches at each of the men’s homes.

Officers and deputies from the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department also assisted in the case.

For Full Story

Man Who Threatened Pres. Obama Gets 10 Months of House Arrest

obama-official-photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A 21-year-old Texas man man who pleaded guilty in May to sending emails threatening the life of President Obama  eight days before the inauguration, will get 10 months of probation under house arrest, the Associated Press reported.

A Denver judge on Friday gave Timothy Ryan Gutierrez the sentence that also included about a $1,500  payment to the security of the  Mall of America in Minnesota. His emails. which were sent from Colorado to the FBI in Washington, threatened Obama and said that he had planted bombs outside the mall, AP reported.

He could have gotten up to 18 months in prison.

Washington Post Columnists Suggests We’ve Gone Over the Top on Providing Security for Folks Like FBI Dir. Mueller

Have we gone overboard in providing protection for society’s notables? Washington Post columnist David Ignatius suggests we have.

Robert Mueller III

Robert Mueller III

By David Ignatius
Washington Post Columnist
WASHINGTON — It was an unsettling image: Arrayed in front of the neighborhood barbershop last week were four burly men with the characteristic earpieces and bulky suits that marked them as security officers.

Inside, gracing the barber’s chair, was the well-trimmed director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Robert Mueller.

Perhaps in today’s Washington, the FBI director truly needs a security detail to protect him when he gets a haircut.

But I wonder. From my vantage, the blatant obviousness of his bodyguards only called attention to him. At the grocery store across the street, he was the talk of the checkout line. “Who’s over at the barbershop?” “The FBI guy, what’s-his-name.” “No way!” People were coming out just to look.

Protecting our public servants is important, to be sure. But we have gotten so cranked up about security in the United States that senior officials travel in cocoons, as if they are under constant threat.

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