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Archive for April, 2010

Ex-NY Commish Bernie Kerik Speaks Out: Critical of Judge and Media: Hasn’t Spoke to Rudy Giuliani Since 2006

 

 

Column: 15 Years After the Oklahoma Bombing, We Must Not Forget the Potential of Homegrown Terrorism

This column was reprinted from a year ago.
Allan Lengel

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — One Friday, two days after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, I was sitting at my desk at the Detroit News in downtown Detroit when I got a tip that the FBI was raiding a farmhouse in Michigan, and it had something to do with the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma.

In short time, I hopped in a car with another reporter and rushed northward up I-75 to Decker, Mi., a rural farming community two hours outside Detroit, where a guy named Tim McVeigh had hung out with two brothers named James and Terry Nichols.

By the time I arrived, the quiet little community, flush with lush farms and pickup trucks with rifle racks, was swarming with reporters and television trucks. Everyone – including the locals — was fixated on the farmhouse nearby that had been cordoned off and was full of FBI and ATF agents gathering evidence.

I stood on the dusty farm road that day thinking that homegrown terrorism had stormed America in a way never seen before. Eight federal agents were dead. Another 160 in the federal building were too.

I spent the next week in the area of the state known as “The Thumb”, tracking down leads, staying in a motel in nearby Cass City, where you checked in at the front desk of the bowling alley across the street. (I bowled one of my highest games – 217).

Read more »

15 Years Later, Oklahoma Bomber’s Brother Keeps His Distance from Limelight

James Nichols/cbc photo

James Nichols/cbc photo

By Allan Lengel
For AOL New

Fifteen years after the Oklahoma City bombing, James Nichols — whose younger brother Terry was convicted in the case — isn’t really talking, except to say he’s still an organic farmer in Michigan.

“I’m not commenting unless you’ve got a big checkbook,” Nichols told AOL News in a phone interview.

Normally, a 15-year milestone of any event — as opposed to 10 years or 25 years — would pass with little fanfare. But recent events have made this one a little different.

Just a few weeks ago, federal agents busted up a Michigan-based Christian militia known as the Hutaree that was accused of plotting to kill law enforcement officers. The arrests triggered chatter on the Sunday talk shows about militias, the potential dangers some might pose and, perhaps inevitably, the Oklahoma City bombing.

Nichols has no ties to the Hutaree, or to any other militia, for that matter. But 15 years ago he found himself in the thick of something like the Hutaree case — only far, far bigger.

The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, killed 168 people and sent a shock wave of vulnerability across the nation.

To read full story click here.

Do the Troops Trust Ex-FBI Agent Jody Weis — Chicago’s Police Chief?

Chief Johy Weis/police photo

Chief Jody Weis/police photo

It’s not easy being an outsider in a police department with a rich tradition of people rising through the ranks. It also doesn’t help to have come from the FBI. Have the troops accepted ex-FBI agent Jody Weis as Chicago’s Police chief?  He says yes, but tells the Chicago News Cooperative:”There will be a certain percentage who will never embrace me because of where I came from.”

By JAMES O’SHEA
Chicago News Cooperative

CHICAGO –The next few months of warmer weather will be crucial for Jody Weis, whose job running the police department is as close as it gets to “Mission Impossible” in Chicago.

Ever since he took over the department in early 2008, Superintendent Weis’s assignment has been to calm police officers who are angry at many things, including working without a contract since 2007 and a federal misconduct prosecution that put a Chicago policeman in prison with a 40-month term.

Morale problems facing the chief will not be helped by a federal arbitrator’s recommendation Friday that the police get a 10 percent raise over five years, far less than the 16 percent Mayor Richard M. Daley offered during contract talks in 2008.

In an interview in early April, Mr. Weis acknowledged that he had a rocky start as the second outsider ever to run the Chicago force. But he said that his relations with officers suspicious of his background as a former F.B.I. agent had reached a “turning point” and that he had presided over a reduction in crime.

To read full story click here.

Mayor Bloomberg Urges Atty. Gen. Holder To Decide Soon on Venue for 9/11 Trial

Mayor Bloomberg/city photo

Mayor Bloomberg/city photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg — better known in the N.Y. tabloids as “Bloomy” — wants Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. to make up his mind already about where he’ll try five 9/11 suspects including the alleged mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the New York Post reports.

Quoting a response to a caller on his weekly radio show on WOR, Bloomberg said:

“I’ve given them my opinion. They can do what they want. I do think they should do it in the sense of making a decision one way or another. I hope the decision is to have the trials elsewhere.”

Holder this week told the Senate Judiciary Committee that no final decision on the matter had been made, and expressed opposition to any move to mandate that suspected terrorists be prosecuted in military trials only.

Bloomberg had come out against a New York trial,  echoing sentiments of many New Yorkers and Republicans on Capitol Hill.

WEEKEND STORIES OF INTEREST

5 Ex-Blackwater Execs Indicted on Weapons Charges

blackwaterlogo2By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Five ex-executives from Blackwater, the highly controsersial security firm, were charged Friday with illegally acquiring automatic weapons and filing false documents. Some weapons were gifts to the Kingdom of Jordan in hopes of landing a lucrative contract to build and run a training center, authorities said.

The 15-count federal indictment out of Raleigh, N.C. charged Gary Jackson, 52, former President; William Wheeler Mathews, Jr., 44, an attorney and former Executive Vice President and Vice President of Operations; Andrew Howell, 44, General Counsel; Ana Bundy, 45, former Vice President of Logistics and Procurement; and Ronald Slezak, 65, a former armorer. The company now operates under the name XE Services.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said employees acquired the high power weapons in hopes of getting a competitive with contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Specifically, authorities alleged that the company allegedly purchased 227 short barrel rifles without registering them, a violation of the law.

Additionally, the company wanted to acquire a stock of automatic weapons for use at its Moyock, N.C., facility.

But authorities said federal law limits the number of certain firearms.

“To evade the legal limit of no more than two weapons of any type, they allegedly arranged straw purchases with a small local sheriff’s office,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a press release.

“Blank letterhead stationery from the sheriff’s office was provided to Blackwater, which was used to prepare letters claiming the sheriff’s office wanted to purchase 17 Romanian AK47s and 17 fully automatic M4s,”the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. “The weapons were paid for by Blackwater, were immediately delivered to Blackwater upon their arrival, and were locked in Blackwater’s armory to which the sheriff’s office had no direct access.”

Read Justice Dept. Press Release

Weekends Series on Crime History: Oklahoma Bomber Tim McVeigh

Atty. Gen. Holder Continues to Push Back Against Military-Only Trials for Terrorists

Khalid Sheik Mohammad

Khalid Sheik Mohammad

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. continues to bark back at critics who want all foreign terrorism suspects to be prosecuted in military courts.

In a speech Thursday in Washington he said proposed legislation in the Senate to require such a policy would “seriously harm our national security”, the Washington Post reported.

“The proposal by some respected leaders in Congress to ban completely the use of civilian courts in prosecutions of terrorism-related activity obscures some basic facts and allows campaign slogans to overtake legal reality,” Holder said at an awards dinner for the Constitution Project, a bipartisan legal advocacy group, according to the Washington Post.