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January 2010


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Archive for January, 2010

W. Va. Rep. Alan Mollohan Off the Hook: U.S. Atty Won’t be Filing Criminal Charges

Rep. Mollohan/gov photo

Rep. Mollohan/gov photo

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W. Va.) got the word anyone sweating through a federal investigation loves to hear: No charges are going to be filed against you.

Reporter Paul Kane of the Washington Post reports that the Justice Department has shut down its criminal probe into the 14-term Congressman after nearly four years. It will not take any criminal action.

The Post reported that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C. and the FBI had been looking into Mollohan, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, “for steering roughly $250 million in line-item expenditures to several nonprofit organizations run by close friends, who also were real estate partners with him.”

“We’re not going to get into any details, but I can confirm we’ve closed the investigation into Alan Mollohan,” U.S. Attorney spokesman Ben Friedman told the Post.

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Ex-CIA Spy Retracts Statement About Waterboarding

spy bookBy Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — There’s no shortage of B.S. in this town.

Enter John Kiriakou, the former CIA operative.

Reporter Jeff Stein has penned an article in Foreign Policy magazine saying that Kiriakou’s claim that waterboarding quickly unloosed the tongues of hard-core terrorists was simply misleading.

Stein writes that “Kiriakou, a 15-year veteran of the agency’s intelligence analysis and operations directorates, electrified the hand-wringing national debate over torture in December 2007 when he told ABC’s Brian Ross and Richard Esposito in a much ballyhooed, exclusive interview that senior al Qaeda commando Abu Zubaydah cracked after only one application of the face cloth and water.”

But Stein writes: ” Now comes John Kiriakou, again, with a wholly different story. On the next-to-last page of a new memoir, The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror (written with Michael Ruby), Kiriakou now rather off handedly admits that he basically made it all up.”


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Some Rank and File in DEA Hail Nomination of Acting Chief Leonhart for Permanent Post

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — Some of the rank and file in the Drug Enforcement Administration on Tuesday  hailed the long awaited decision by President Obama on Monday to nominate acting DEA chief Michele Leonhart for the permanent post. She must now get confirmed by the Senate.

“She’s good for the agency,” said one DEA agent, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because agents aren’t authorized to speak to the press without permission. “She’s one of us. She came up through the ranks. You get the impression she understands what the working agents go through.”

The agent said she got added kudos among the ranks when she took time to meet with the families of three DEA agents who were killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan in October.

Another DEA agent added: “She knows our faults and she knows our strengths. She’ll enhance our strengths and close the gaps on our flaws. She’s very nice, she’s smart, she’s a hard worker.”

The agent acknowledged she may have made a few enemies along the way working for the Office of Professional Responsibility, which investigates wrongdoing within the agency.

Also on the downside, agents acknowledged that Leonhart, who has been acting administrator since 2007, has gotten a rap  for being too indecisive at times.

But they said the indecisiveness comes, at least in good part, as a result of being an acting chief who has limited power. They said that should change if she’s confirmed for the top spot.

William Coonce, a retired DEA special agent in charge of the Detroit office, said :”She’s  outstanding. I’m glad for her and I’m glad for the agency.”


A Bizarre Watergate-Like Caper: 4 People Including Son of Acting U.S. Attorney Busted for Tampering with La. Sen. Landrieu’s Office Phones

Sen. Landrieu/gov photo

Sen. Landrieu/gov photo

By Allan Lengel

In a bizarre incident that had a vintage Watergate feel about it, the FBI on Monday busted the son of the acting U.S. Attorney in Shreveport, La. and three other people for tampering with the phones of Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu in her downtown New Orleans office, federal authorities announced on Tuesday.

An FBI affidavit did not specifically say the men were trying to tap the phones, but some media reports did. But there’s no indication that bugging was involved and it’s unclear what their mission was.

The Associated Press reported that conservative activist James O’Keefe, 25, who once posed as a pimp to target the community group ACORN, was in Landrieu’s New Orleans office Monday when Robert Flanagan and Joseph Basel, both 24, showed up dressed like phone repairmen claiming they were there to work on the phones . Flanagan is the son of acting U.S. Attorney Bill Flanagan.

Flanagan and Basel then asked for access to a reception desk phone and the phone closet, according to the news service  and an FBI affidavit. And O”Keefe videotaped the two men on his cellphone, authorities said.

U.S. Marshals arrested the men. A fourth man, Stan Dai, 24, was also arrested, the AP reported, saying he was allegedly involved in the planning of the scheme.

Authorities did not say why the men were tampering with the phones.

Read New Orleans Times-Picayune Story

Acting DEA Head Michele Leonhart Nominated to Take Post Permanently

DEA's Michele Leonhart/dea photo

DEA's Michele Leonhart/dea photo

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — As expected, President Obama has nominated acting head of the DEA Michele Leonhart to take on the post on a permanent basis.

The announcement came in a White House press release issued on Monday. She had been one of four candidates being considered for the job.  first reported last year that she was expected to get the nod from Pres. Obama.

One of the other candidates, John Pistole, deputy director of the FBI, had been considered the lead candidate for a while, but that changed.

Leonhart, a former Baltimore cop, joined the DEA in 1980 and rose through the ranks to become deputy administrator in 2004. In 2007, she became acting administrator, the top post in DEA, after Karen Tandy resigned.

N.Y. U.S. Atty Charges ex-Guatemala Pres. With Money Laundering Stolen Cash

Ex-Pres. Portillo

Ex-Pres. Portillo

Update Tues: 4:10 p.m.: The U.S Attorney’s Office announced that President Alfonso Portillo, who had been on the run, was arrested this afternoon in the Guatemalan state of  Izabal.

By Allan Lengel

New York U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara  said former Guatemala President Alfonso Portillo — who is on the run — had converted the presidency into “his personal ATM.”

That pointed remark accompanied an announcement on Monday that the U.S. Attorney’s Office had indicted Portillo for embezzling millions of dollars from charities and government coffers and laundering the money in American and European banks.

“Alfonso Portillo is charged with converting the office of the Guatemalan presidency into his personal ATM,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.

He served as president from 2000 to 2004.

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Could N.Y. Trial of Pakistani Scientist be Preview of the Pending Trial of 9/11 Suspects?

new york city3 cabsBy Allan Lengel

The Manhattan federal trial of a Pakistani scientist accused of trying to shoot U.S. soldiers while being detained in Afghanistan continues to be a reminder of what troubles could lie ahead when suspected 9/11  mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others stand trial in the Big Apple.

The New York Times reported that scientist Aafia Siddiqui was twice ejected from court Monday for loudly proclaiming her innocence.

On top of that, “a spectator who pointed his thumb and index finger like a gun at the jury while mouthing an expletive was taken into custody and later released,” the Times reported.

The paper reported the judge later dismissed two jurors who said they felt threatened.

”They were visibly upset,” a court official said, according to the Times.

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