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Archive for February, 2010

Border Patrol and Mexican Federal Police Make History at Arizona Border

It’s great to see the U.S. and Mexico cooperating at this level. But it won’t be without some disappointment. Sharing intelligence with the Mexican federal police has its drawbacks. The organization is subject to serious corruption, and it’s likely some intelligence is going to be shared with the drug cartels. Not that the U.S. federal border agents on occasion  haven’t been busted for corruption. It’s just that  it’s so much more pervasive in the Mexican federal police system. But you have to give the U.S. the benefit of the doubt and figure  “it must know what it’s doing.” We shall see.

mexico-border-sign

By Sebastian Rotella
ProPublica

NOGALES, Ariz. — In a politically sensitive operation at the Arizona-Mexico border, U.S. Border Patrol agents and Mexican federal police officers are training together, sharing intelligence and coordinating patrols for the first time.

The goal of the historic partnership: a systematic joint attack on northbound flows of drugs and migrants, and southbound shipments of guns and cash. It is part of a major, unannounced crackdown started in recent months that involves hundreds of U.S. and Mexican officers in the border’s busiest smuggling corridor.

The initiative appears likely to expand.

Read more »

Body of Missing Retired FBI Agent Found in Texas: Homicide or Suicide?

texasBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The body of a missing retired FBI agent was found in Waller County, Texas late last week near her car, the Waller County News Citizen  reported.

The paper said unconfirmed reports indicated Patricia Durney had suffered a bullet wound to the head. It said authorities were trying to determine whether it was a homicide or suicide. Her body was found Thursday, one day after she was reported missing.

A comment from the sheriff’s department  made it sound as if they were leaning toward suicide.

“The investigation continues, however the initial investigation does not reveal any evidence of foul play,” the Waller County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release, according to the paper.

For Full Story

LA Times Editorial Wonders About DEA Chief Michele Leonhart’s Stance on Pot

DEA's Michele Leonhart/dea photo

DEA's Michele Leonhart/dea photo

Los Angeles Times Editorial

When President Obama nominated Michele Leonhart to head the Drug Enforcement Administration last month, those hoping for a sensible federal policy regarding medical marijuana — one that promotes scientific research into its medicinal value and eschews prosecution when it is used in accordance with local laws — shivered.

As special agent in charge of the Los Angeles Field Division, Leonhart zealously cracked down on dispensaries (though, it could be argued, that was during the Clinton and Bush years, and she was adhering to White House policy). Then, in 2008, as acting head of the DEA, she denied the application of a University of Massachusetts botanist to cultivate marijuana for research purposes (though that too was in line with the Bush administration’s anti-science stance).

So what are we to expect now if she is confirmed by the Senate? Hard to say. Since Obama’s Swearing in, it has been unclear whether the DEA — which Leonhart has been running as acting administrator since November 2007 — is willing to abide by his administration’s verbal and written policy of not pursuing medical marijuana operations that do not violate their state’s laws.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES  OF INTEREST

Column: Terrorists Should Face Civilian Courts

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
By Clarence Page
Chicago Tribune Columnist

WASHINGTON — Resistance to political influence is a virtue in a good attorney general. Tone deafness to politics is not, especially when the public fails to understand the virtue in what you’re doing.

That appears to be why, as much as he prefers a civilian trial for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the confessed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, Attorney General Eric Holder has backpedaled just enough to say that he is open to a military tribunal.

In an interview published Feb. 15 in The New York Times, he said, “You have to be flexible.” That’s true, if you can avoid tying yourself up in knots.

Holder and President Barack Obama appear to be bending to the relentless winds of opinion polls and conservative politicians. They may not have much choice. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham from South Carolina has introduced a bill in the Senate to cut off funding for criminal trials related to Sept. 11. He hopes to force cases like Mohammad’s into the military commissions that the Bush administration hastily organized at Guantanamo after the 2001 attacks.

It is easy to understand why our military is a sentimental favorite as a go-to place for handling terrorists. But those who root for the military commissions in Guantanamo should note a few things. The FBI, Justice Department and our federal courts have a better track record for effectiveness, constitutionality and appropriately tough sentencing than Team Obama’s political critics give them credit.

To read full column click here.

FBI Warned Mass. Mobster A Year Before He Was Whacked

mobster-drawing2
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI apparently warned Massachusetts mob crime boss Adolfo “Big Al” Bruno that he might get whacked a year before he was gunned down in November 2003, the Boston Globe reported.

The paper reported that unsealed records in Hamden Superior Court in Massachusetts shows an FBI agent noted in a Feb. 12, 2002 document that an informant in a federal witness protection program warned that someone wanted to take over the operation.

Last week, the feds charged two members of the Genovese Crime family with the murder of Bruno.

To read more click here.

Contractor Tells FBI He Gave Ex-Detroit Mayor Kilpatrick $100,000 Bribe

Ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick/official photo

Ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick/official photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT –Could it be ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick of sex-text message fame, who has already served time for obstruction of justice in state court, could face far more serious charges in federal court?

The Detroit Free Press reports that “a contractor who pleaded guilty in an ongoing corruption probe in Detroit has told investigators that he handed as much as $100,000 in bribes to then-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in 2002, according to interviews and sworn documents reviewed by the Free Press.”

The paper reported that the contractor, Karl Kado of West Bloomfield, Mi., also told the FBI “he paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to the mayor’s father, and thousands more to a close mayoral aide, according to the records and interviews.”

The FBI has been probing the mayor and his father and others for quite some time. Stay tuned.

To read more click here.

Weekend Series on History: LBJ Said J. Edgar Hoover Hated JFK and Robert Kennedy

FBI Releases 92-Page Report on Anthrax Attacks and Officially Closes the Case

The FBI hopes the latest disclosure will convince people they fingered the right guy. Of course, there are some who still believe that the elements found in the anthrax could not have come from the Maryland lab where suspect Bruce Ivins worked.

Suspect Bruce Ivins

Suspect Bruce Ivins

By Scott Shane
New York Times

WASHINGTON — More than eight years after anthrax-laced letters killed five people and terrorized the country, the F.B.I. finally closed its investigation of the matter on Friday. The bureau released a 92-page report adding eerie new details to its case that the attacks were carried out by Bruce E. Ivins, an Army biodefense expert who killed himself in 2008.

The report describes the evidence against Dr. Ivins in far greater detail than before, revealing his equivocal answers when a friend asked him in a recorded conversation whether he was the anthrax mailer.

“If I found out I was involved in some way.” Dr. Ivins said. “I do not have any recollection of ever doing anything like that,” he said, adding: “I can tell you, I am not a killer at heart.”

The report also describes the F.B.I.’s theory that Dr. Ivins, who was fascinated by codes, embedded a complex coded message in the notes that he mailed with the anthrax. The coded message, based on D.N.A. biochemistry, alluded to two female colleagues with whom he was obsessed, the bureau said.

The report describes how a hidden F.B.I. surveillance agent watched in 2007 as Dr. Ivins threw out a book and an article that might reveal his interest in codes, then came out of his house at 1 a.m. in long underwear to make certain that the garbage truck had in fact taken his trash.

“I can hurt, kill, and terrorize,” Dr. Ivins wrote in a 2008 e-mail message to a friend. “Go down low, low, low as you can go, then dig forever, and you’ll find me, my psyche.”

To read full story click here

To read report