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Archive for August, 2010

Washington Post Editorial: U.S. Atty. Fitzgerald Should “Back Off” Retrying Blagojevich

fitzgerald-gov arrestBy The Washington Post
Editorial Page

WASHINGTON — U.S. ATTORNEY Patrick J. Fitzgerald should back off his vow to retry former governor Rod Blagojevich (D-Ill.).

With moral thunder in December 2008, the aggressive prosecutor declared that the state’s chief executive was nabbed “in the middle of what we can only describe as a public corruption crime spree.”

Mr. Fitzgerald added, “The conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave.” Yet on Tuesday, 20 months later, a federal jury was unmoved. In an extraordinary rebuke, Mr. Blagojevich was convicted on only one of 24 counts against him.

Mr. Fitzgerald brought unlimited resources and the power of the federal government to the case against Mr. Blagojevich.

To read more click here.

Media Leak Led to Judge Granting Asylum to Pres. Obama’s Aunt

onyangoBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A leak to the media prompted an immigration judge to grant asylum to President Obama’s aunt Zeituni Onyango who lives in Boston public housing, the Boston Globe reported.

The paper reported that the judge, Leonard I. Shapiro, ruled the asylum was granted because of an anonymous federal official in the Bush administration, who leaked information about her immigration status, and consequently  exposed her to potentially more threats in her native Kenya, the Globe reported, citing the court ruling.

Onyango was granted asylum in May, but the reasons why were not released, triggering speculation, particularly among conservative Republicans, that she got favorable treatment because of her relationship with the president. Her two previous requests were rejected.

Immigration Judge Shapiro, a Republican appointee, harshly wrote in his ruling that a Bush administration official leaked the information to the Associated Press, which threw her into the spotlight in a “highly publicized and highly politicized manner’’ days before the November 2008, the Globe reported.

“Moreover,’’ he wrote, according to the Globe, that “the disclosure . . . was a reckless and illegal violation of her right to privacy which has exposed her to great risk.’

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

The Blagojevich Case: Who Won?

blago on kingBy Allan Lengel
For AOL News

At first blush, Rod Blagojevich appeared almost Houdini-like, slipping out from under a weight of charges that seemed almost certain to bury the former Illinois governor.

A federal jury in downtown Chicago convicted him Tuesday on only one of 24 corruption counts — one that involved lying to FBI agents in 2005. It deadlocked on the 23 others, including a key one — that Blagojevich had tried to sell the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama. Blagojevich vowed to appeal what he called the “nebulous” one count, which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison. The jury deadlocked on all four charges against his brother Robert.

But did he really win? And did the prosecution lose? Depends who’s talking.

“There’s no doubt they brought 24 charges hoping to get 24 convictions,” former District of Columbia U.S. Attorney Roscoe C. Howard Jr., a friend of Chicago’s U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, told AOL News. “But they have a conviction. If you’re the former governor and you now have a felony conviction, that’s a bad situation.”

To read more click here.

Blago Jury Foreman Says Government Proved Its Case But Was Too Complicated

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Justice Dept. Threatens to Sue Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Sheriff Joe Arpaio

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Controversial Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio is causing more controversy.

The Washington Post reports that the Justice Department issued a “rare threat to sue Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio if he does not cooperate with their investigation of whether he discriminates against Hispanics.”

A federal grand jury in Phoenix is looking into whether the man who describes himself as “America’s toughest sheriff” abused his authority to investigate and intimidate political opponents and whether money was misappropriated, the Post reported.

To read more click here.

Ex-NASA Contractor Admits Stealing Flight Suit of First Female in Space

nasaBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A former contract employee at NASA, who was responsible for the maintenance of astronaut flight suits, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Houston to stealing the NASA flight suit of the first female American astronaut in space and other property, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Calvin Dale Smith, 56, of Houston, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Nancy F. Atlas to stealing NASA property including a flight suit worth more than $1000 and various specialized machined parts valued at approximately $7,372, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

A criminal complaint said the flight suit bore the name patch Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut in space.

The stolen property was recovered at Smith’s Houston home on May 5, 2009, by agents of NASA’s Office of Inspector General, which executed a search warrant, authorities said.

The agents found the goods in a suitcase in a room that had an alarm. Authorities say the investigation began after Smith’s estranged wife reported the matter to the FBI. Sentencing was set for Nov. 2.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Breaking News: Blago Convicted on 1 of 24 Counts; Jury Deadlocks on 4 Counts Against Brother

Ex-Gov Blagojevich as gov/state photo

Ex-Gov Blagojevich as gov/state photo

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

A federal jury in Chicago on Tuesday convicted ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on just one count but deadlocked on 23 others, including the allegation that he tried to sell President Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat.

The former governor could face up to five years in prison on the one conviction, lying to federal agents. U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said his office planned to retry the case soon.

“For all practical purposes, we are in the mode of being close to jury selection for a retrial,” Fitzgerald said.

Outside the courthouse, Blagojevich insisted, “I didn’t break any laws.”

“Let me also say this to the people of Illinois — that from the very beginning this all happened, I told them I did not let them down,” he said.

Blagojevich, 53, said he would appeal the single conviction on what he called a “nebulous” charge.

“I didn’t break any laws,”he said. “I did not lie to the FBI.”

To read more click here.

Deputy Atty. General Blasts FBI and ATF For Not Getting Along in 8-Page Memo

Dep. A.G. Gary Grindler/doj photo

Dep. A.G. Gary Grindler/doj photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The ongoing turf battle between the FBI and ATF is getting renewed attention.

ABC News reports that Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler has fired off a letter saying the ongoing Hatfield-McCoy relationship can cause confusion as to who is in charge at scenes and when trying to defuse live bombs.

“We cannot afford to let any uncertainty about roles and responsibilities interfere with a timely and effective response to explosives incidents,” Grindler said in 8-page memo, which directs the agencies to get along, according to ABC News. “Prior efforts to remedy this situation through protocols and Attorney General memoranda have failed to achieve sustainable, clearly defined lines between ATF’s and FBI’s jurisdiction.”

“Despite the impressive records of both agencies in this mission space, the current situation … must be remedied.”

The problem is certainly nothing new. Instances have popped up from time to time including in March 2003 when North Carolina farmer Dwight Watson brought his tractor to the pond at the National Mall and falsely claimed to have a bomb, bringing  part of the District to a standstill for two days.  In that instance, FBI and ATF agents argued over jurisdiction.

To read more click here

To read memo click here.