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Archive for July, 2010

Union Representing ICE Workers Claims Agent Being Harassed in Leak Probe Because of Asian Name

iceBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — A leak investigation involving a  Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent  is stirring up controversy.

The Washington Post reports that the union representing ICE agent claims the agency is harassing an agent suspected of leaking information about controversial quotas to the media.

The American Federation of Government Employees National Council 118 claims the agent has been targeted in the leak probe because his surname is Asian, as is that of the Washington Post reporter, Spencer Hsu, who wrote the story, the Post reported.

To read more click here.

OTHER ICE STORIES

Wash Post Ombudsman and Readers Question Why Paper Ignored Justice Dept-Black Panther Story

blackpantherptylogoBy Andrew Alexander
Washington Post Ombudsman

WASHINGTON — Thursday’s Post reported about a growing controversy over the Justice Department’s decision to scale down a voter-intimidation case against members of the New Black Panther Party. The story succinctly summarized the issues but left many readers with a question: What took you so long?

For months, readers have contacted the ombudsman wondering why The Post hasn’t been covering the case. The calls increased recently after competitors such as the New York Times and the Associated Press wrote stories. Fox News and right-wing bloggers have been pumping the story. Liberal bloggers have countered, accusing them of trying to manufacture a scandal.

But The Post has been virtually silent.

The story has its origins on Election Day in 2008, when two members of the New Black Panther Party stood in front of a Philadelphia polling place. YouTube video of the men, now viewed nearly 1.5 million times, shows both wearing paramilitary clothing. One carried a nightstick.

To read more click here.

Justice Dept. Attorney Co-Authors Must-Read Book on Abu Ghraib

“The Secrets of Abu Ghraib Revealed—American Soldiers on Trial” by Christopher Graveline and Michael Clemens. The book is available at Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and Borders books.

abu ghraib book

By Ross Parker

An acquaintance from another country recently posed a question to me: How is it that such an idealistic country as America, whose people are willing to sacrifice so much, is so mistrusted and vilified around the world? We contribute nearly a trillion dollars a year, more than ten times the amount of any other country, as well as the lives of thousands of our best and brightest to attempt to keep world peace. But in the international press and the streets of the Middle East we are, increasingly, the Great Satan.

Historians for my children’s children may be able to explain this complex irony. Hopefully, one of the texts they will study is The Secrets of Abu Ghraib Revealed by Christopher Graveline and Michael Clemens. The book presents a day-by-day factual account of one of the scandals of the Iraq War, one which scarred the image of America in a part of the world where we can ill afford such ignominy.

Graveline, an assistant U.S. Attorney in Detroit, who was a JAG prosecutor, and Clemens, a federal agent in Milwaukee, who was an Army investigator, were intimately involved in the eleven successful prosecutions of the military personnel who abused Iraqi detainees at the Baghdad prison in November and December of 2003. The authors present the facts with such detail and objectivity that readers can come to their own conclusions about the questions of cause, blame and responsibility.

In addition to using impeccable scholarship, the book explores the human dimensions of the tragedy and presents the reader with a fascinating and dramatic description of the people and scenes involved.

The heat, dust and danger of Baghdad, as well as the drama of the courtroom, are alive in its pages to keep the reader as engrossed as any good summer beach-read. Beyond the enjoyment of the read, the book presents a study of the rule of law and the rules of war, for generals and taxpayers, Presidents and policymakers, about the complexities of investing young American lives in trouble spots around the world. Its drama and message will appeal to a broad spectrum of readers.

Christopher Graveline/potomac books

Christopher Graveline/potomac books

Although the authors refrain from imposing their personal opinions, the work provides important lessons for future statesmen on subjects such as interrogation policy, training and supervision of young soldiers, and the need for clear guidelines.

As seems to be so frequently the case, an event of such transformative historical significance influencing relations between countries and affecting lives put on the line has largely been based on misinformation and misinterpretation. Thanks to media accounts and political debates, like most Americans I thought the Abu Ghraib abuses were connected with White House and Pentagon policy on loosening the limits or coercion and torture in the treatment of enemy combatants.

As the book documents, however, the scandal at Abu Ghraib primarily involved the twisted entertainment of a handful of soldiers at the expense of common Iraqi criminal inmates who were never interrogated and had no intelligence value whatsoever.

The seven victims had been involved in a food riot at a nearby prison camp and had the misfortune of being detained on a night in which some bored and stressed out GIs decided to create some perverted amusement. The iconic images of naked Iraqi prisoners forced into cheerleader pyramids, required to masturbate for the cruel enjoyment of the guards and terrorized by dogs and other sadistic stratagems— are unfortunately engraved on American and world consciousness.

The fact that the incident directly involved only a few does not minimize the culpability of those who were convicted or the negligence of the chain of command. Although the use of abusive interrogation techniques deserves full public scrutiny, the issue which is defined by Secrets is the failure of the command officers to provide the support and guidance to the women and men on the ground so that they could emotionally survive this terrible war.

What the authors of the book demonstrate is that the incident at Abu Ghraib and its aftermath stand as a microcosm, a prism, for examining everything that is right and wrong about the whole Iraq war. At its worst, the incident embodies mistakes by political and military decision makers in the conduct of the war as a whole—the inadequacy of resources and manpower, the defective planning and training for the effect that incessant danger and hostility will have on the ground level soldiers.

At its best, the scandal aftermath and its investigation are representative of the virtues of the American troops—the overwhelming majority who conscientiously do their duty under traumatic circumstances and just want to return home. Among them are heroes who exerted incredible effort and dedication to search for American justice amidst a confusing rubble of facts and allegations. Finally the study highlights the sacrifice, personal, career and, sometimes, in lives lost, made by American soldiers in this war.

Put in the hero category, the prosecutors and law enforcement investigators, including the authors, who left hearth and home to work 16 hours a day, seven days a week under the glare of the international press and a polarized nation in search of a just and honorable resolution. It was, as one of the Pentagon generals warned them, “a fuckin’ no-fail mission.” They did what prosecutors and agents do every day, they followed where the evidence led them in search of the right result, and let the chips fall where they may.

The Secrets of Abu Ghraib deserves to be in that library of non-fiction war books which are passed on to the next generation. It is compelling, insightful, and as entertaining as it is edifying.

Book Review: Justice Dept. Atty. Co-Authors Must Read Book on Abu Ghraib

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office.

“The Secrets of Abu Ghraib Revealed—American Soldiers on Trial” by Christopher Graveline and Michael Clemens. The book is available at Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and Borders.

abu ghraib book

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

An acquaintance from another country recently posed a question to me: How is it that such an idealistic country as America, whose people are willing to sacrifice so much, is so mistrusted and vilified around the world? We contribute nearly a trillion dollars a year, more than ten times the amount of any other country, as well as the lives of thousands of our best and brightest to attempt to keep world peace. But in the international press and the streets of the Middle East we are, increasingly, the Great Satan.

Historians for my children’s children may be able to explain this complex irony. Hopefully, one of the texts they will study is The Secrets of Abu Ghraib Revealed by Christopher Graveline and Michael Clemens. The book presents a day-by-day factual account of one of the scandals of the Iraq War, one which scarred the image of America in a part of the world where we can ill afford such ignominy.

Graveline, now an assistant U.S. Attorney in Detroit, who was  a JAG prosecutor, and Clemens, a federal agent in Milwaukee, who was an Army investigator, were intimately involved in the eleven successful prosecutions of the military personnel who abused Iraqi detainees at the Baghdad prison in November and December of 2003. The authors present the facts with such detail and objectivity that readers can come to their own conclusions about the questions of cause, blame and responsibility.

In addition to using impeccable scholarship, the book explores the human dimensions of the tragedy and presents the reader with a fascinating and dramatic description of the people and scenes involved.

The heat, dust and danger of Baghdad, as well as the drama of the courtroom, are alive in its pages to keep the reader as engrossed as any good summer beach-read. Beyond the enjoyment of the read, the book presents a study of the rule of law and the rules of war, for generals and taxpayers, Presidents and policymakers, about the complexities of investing young American lives in trouble spots around the world. Its drama and message will appeal to a broad spectrum of readers.

Read more »

Feds Capture “Pablo Escobar of the Caribbean” in Puerto Rico After Decade-Long Hunt

puerto-rico-mapBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A man known as the Pablo Escobar of the Caribbean was captured by federal authorities Saturday in Puerto Rico following a decade-long hunt, the Associated Press reported.

FBI, DEA, U.S. Marshals  and Puerto Rico Police captured Jose Figueroa Agosto in a working class neighborhood in San Juan, AP reported. he was wearing a wig and jumped out of his car and tried running when he saw he was being followed.

“We asked him his name, and he simply answered that we knew who he was,” Antonio Torres, who heads the U.S. Marshal Service’s fugitive task force in Puerto Rico said, according to AP.

“It is a tremendous arrest, definitely,” U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez told a news conference Saturday, according to AP.

AP reported that Figueroa,45, is suspected of shipping Colombian drugs to the U.S. via Puerto Rico. He escaped from prison in 1999.

Skeptical D.C. Fed Judge Dismisses Charges in Major Porn Trial Against “Buttman”

John Stagliano/facebook photo

John Stagliano/facebook photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — A D.C. federal judge, saying he hoped “the government will learn a lesson from its experience”, dismissed a major obscenity case against a major porn producer, John A. Stagliano, aka “Buttman”, the Washington Post reported.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon dismissed the case before the Calif.-based Stagliano of Evil Angel Productions could present a defense, the Post reported, calling the Justice Department’s Obscenity Prosecution Task Force case in the four days of trial “woefully insufficient”, the Post reported.

“I hope the government will learn a lesson from its experience,” Leon said, according to the Post.

The Post reported that he cited “difficult, challenging and novel questions” in the case involving decades-old federal obscenity statutes, the Internet, free speech and criminal defendants’ rights.

“I hope that [higher] courts and Congress will give greater guidance to judges in whose courtrooms these cases will be tried,” he said, according to the Post.

The Post reported that prosecutors did not comment.

The Post reported that Justice Department statistics show 361 defendants were charged with obscenity violations under the Bush II regime, nearly twice as many as under Clinton.

To read more click here.

Weekend Stories Worth Reading

Weekend Series on Crime: The DEA Fast Team in Afghanistan

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSUGY8qV6Jc

Feds Bust 94 in Largest Health Care Fraud Takedown Since Strike Force Created

health care
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The feds on Friday said 94 people were charged in schemes to collect more than $251 million in Medicare claims, calling it the largest health care fraud takedown since the Medicare Fraud Strike Force was created in 2007.

Federal authorities alleged that the suspected cheats took part in schemes to submit bogus Medicare claims for treatments that were were medically unnecessary and often never provided, according to the Justice Department.

“With today’s arrests, we’re putting would-be criminals on notice: Health care fraud is no longer a safe bet,” Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. said in a statement. “The federal government is working aggressively—and collaboratively—to pursue health care criminals around the country and to bring these offenders to justice.”

The fraudulent claims involved physical therapy and occupational therapy schemes, home health care schemes, HIV infusion fraud schemes and durable medical equipment (DME) schemes, authorities said.

Earlier on Friday, 36 defendants were arrested in Miami, New York, Baton Rouge and Detroit.