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Archive for August, 2009

Parole Denied for American Indian Activist Convicted in 1975 Killing of 2 FBI Agents

FBI Agent Ronald Williams

FBI Agent Ronald Williams

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It seemed like a no brainer for the U.S. Parole Commission.

American Indian activist Leonard Peltier was convicted in the 1975 fatal shootings of FBI agents Jack Coler and Ronald A. Williams on the Oglala Sioux Indian Reservation. The agents were serving arrests warrants for robbery and assault.

And after the shootings, while on the lam, Peltier shot at an Oregon Highway Patrol Officer, authorities say. In 1979, he escaped from prison and shot at a prison employee. In all, he had 12 prison infractions, four of which were drug related.

So considering all that,  this may not have come as any great shock:  After his July 28 parole hearing at his federal penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pa., the parole commission turned him down, according to an announcement Friday by U.S. Attorney Drew H. Wrigley of North Dakota, where Peltier was convicted in 1977.  The next parole hearing will be in July 2024 for the Peltier, who is 65.

On Friday, FBI Assistant Director Thomas J. Harrington issued a statement lauding the parole commission’s decision and added:
“His time served in jail for their 1975 murders has not diminished the brutality of his crimes or the pain and sorrow felt by the families of his victims or the FBI family.”

FBI Agent Jack Coler

FBI Agent Jack Coler

Peltier denied actually shooting the agents. He has conceded that he was present and shot in the area of the agents, authorities said. The parole board said the evidence was convincing that he was the actual killer.

U.S. Atty. Wrigley issued a statement saying: “Leonard Peltier’s guilt is certain and has been upheld time and time again by every appellate court. The evidence is overwhelming . And the loss suffered by the Coler and Williams families is equally overwhelming.”

After the shooting, authorities say Peltier was captured in Canada in February 1976 by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

“He was heavily armed when arrested…and said he would have blown the Mounties out of their shoes had he known they were coming to arrest him,” the U.S. Attorney’s press release said.

In 1979, he escaped. The FBI captured Peltier who possessed a semi-automatic rifle at the time, authorities said.

In other words, how hard of a decision was it to keep the guy behind bars?

Read 6-Page U.S. Attorney Press Release

FBI Chief Intelligence Officer Don Van Duyn Retiring

Don Van Duyn
Don Van Duyn

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON – Don Van Duyn, the FBI’s chief intelligence officer who regularly briefed FBI Director Robert Mueller III, is stepping down, the FBI confirmed Friday.

Van Duyn, who was appointed to the post of Chief Intelligence Officer for the FBI’s Directorate of Intelligence in Sept. 2008, is retiring at the end of the month, the FBI said.

He joined the FBI in 2003 after working as an analyst for the CIA  and  as the agency’s liaison to the FBI.

A 2008 FBI press release said he started his FBI career in 2003 as the chief of the Counterterrorism Analysis Section where he  “shaped the early development  of the FBI’s Intelligence Program.”

FBI spokesman Paul E. Bresson said no replacement has been named.

Ex-Agent Insists Author’s Article on Secret Service is Filled with “Half-Truths and Hyperbole” to Promote Book

Don Gambatesa, who retired from the U.S. Secret Service, was a special agent in charge of the agency’s training facility, James J. Rowley Training Center in Laurel, Md.  He wrote this letter to the editor of Newsmax.com, the online publication that  printed a story critical of the agency.

The artcile was written by  Ronald Kessler, author of the new book:  “In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes With Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect”.

secret-service-book

By Don Gambatesa
Retired Secret Service Agent
Mr. Kessler’s article on August 10, 2009 “Secret Service is Putting the President at Risk” is not only a ploy to hype the sales of his “tell all” book, but it could possibly encourage individuals or groups to make an attempt on the life of the President or others.

Although I have only read excerpts from the book, the article is filled with half-truths and hyperbole. If asked, most former and current Secret Service agents would say that no security plan is without some risk.

The difficult job of the Secret Service is to minimize that risk in order to make it nearly impossible for someone or a group to successfully assassinate the President. I can tell you from my 24 years in the Service that protection of the President involves the use of many security features to include magnetometers.

Of course, the Secret Service is not going to speak openly about the complete package of security related activities that go on before and during a Presidential visit but there are many; and hopefully none of my former colleagues will enumerate them.

Read more »

U.S. Officials See Continuation of Mexican Cartel Violence

No question, with the stakes so high, the money so plentiful, the Mexican drug trade isn’t going away any time soon. The U.S. announcement on Thursday of a major indictment including major cartel figures is good, but it certainly does NOT mark the end, or anything close to it.

mexico-map1

By Anthony L. Kimery
HS TODAY

US counterterrorism officials continue to be increasingly concerned about the growth of Mexico’s narco-cartels and the Mexican military’s inability to substantially break up their operations.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon earlier this year was forced to deploy military forces throughout regions of the country to try to break-up and disrupt the cartels’ activities.

But officials who spoke on background said the cartels and their “enforcers” have become emboldened and have less fear than they did several years ago to directly confront Mexican federal police and military forces, and that they no longer have hesitation about using violence to protect – and project – their operations there and in the United States.

For Full Story

NY Lawyer Convicted in Scheme to “Eliminate” and “Neutralize” Fed Witnesses

Atty Robert Simels

Atty Robert Simels

It’s good to be vigilante as a defense attorney and protect your client. Then there’s attorneys like Robert Simels who are downright criminal about it. Simply disgraceful. Simels didn’t walk free despite being represented by one of New York’s top lawyers Gerald Shargel.

By Patricia Hurtado
Bloomberg

Robert Simels, a New York criminal defense lawyer, was convicted by a jury of a scheme to “eliminate” and “neutralize” federal witnesses slated to testify against one of his clients.

Simels, a former Special Assistant Attorney General for New York’s Special Prosecutor’s Office who once represented pop artist Peter Max, was convicted of 12 of 13 charges against him, including multiple counts of witness tampering, bribery, and illegal possession of eavesdropping equipment. He was cleared of a sole charge of making false statements to the U.S.

For Full Story

No Surprise: Tom Ridge Says He Was Pressured to Raise Terror Alert Before 2004 Election

Just as we suspected. There was something fishy about the code orange alerts. Sure it’s hard to believe politics could play into this all in a town like Washington where we know everything is above board and transparent.

Tom Ridge/gov photo

Tom Ridge/gov photo

By DEB RIECHMANN and EILEEN SULLIVAN
WASHINGTON — Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge claims in a new book that he was pressured by other members of President George W. Bush’s Cabinet to raise the nation’s terror alert level just before the 2004 presidential election.

Ridge says he objected to raising the security level despite the urgings of former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, according to a publicity release from Ridge’s publisher. He said the episode convinced him to follow through with his plans to leave the administration; he resigned on Nov. 30, 2004.

For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

FBI Dir. Robert Mueller Criticizes Release of Libyan Convicted in Lockerie Bombing

panamBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III responded to Scotland’s  release  on Thursday of the Libyan convicted in the Lockerbie bombing of Pan Am flight 103,  saying he was “deeply disappointed” and figured the man had served less than 14 days in jail per victim.

“We are deeply disappointed over the decision to release Abdel Basset Mohamed al-Megrahi from prison,” Mueller said in a prepared statement. “Mr. Megrahi’s guilt was firmly established by the court. His conviction resulted in a life sentence for his part in the loss of 270 innocent lives, including 189 Americans.”

“He never admitted to his role in this act of terrorism, nor did he or the government of Libya disclose the names or roles of others who were responsible,” Mueller said. “In a case of mass murder over Lockerbie, Mr. Megrahi served less than 14 days per victim. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those victims today, for the ongoing pain and loss caused by this horrific attack.”

Scottish authorities released the terminally ill Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, a former Libyan intelligence agent, on compassionate grounds, according to media reports.  He was convicted in 2001  in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 that exploded over the town of Lockerbie in December 1988.

Ten Mexican Drug Cartel Leaders Among 43 Indicted in U.S. Crackdown

As violence spins out of control in Mexico and across the U.S. border, these type of indictments are good. But there’s so many other folks out there willing to take over the lucrative drug trade. In other words: Both countries have to keep plugging away.

mexico-border-sign

By James Vicini and Jeremy Pelofsky
Reuters
WASHINGTON – Ten accused Mexican drug cartel leaders were among 43 defendants charged with conspiring to smuggle billions of dollars worth of cocaine into the United States, but most of them remain at large, U.S. authorities said Thursday.

The United States, which has been seeking to crack down on drug trafficking and violence along the border with Mexico which has escalated recently, seeks the forfeiture of more than $5.8 billion in drug proceeds as part of the charges.

They announced the charges brought in New York and Chicago against the accused leaders and other high-ranking members of several of Mexico’s most powerful drug cartels, along with other Mexican and U.S. defendants.

For Full Story

Read Justice Dept. Press Release