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Archive for September, 2010

Homeland Security to Test Improved Eye Scanners

Beauty female eye with curl long false eyelashesBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Futuristic law enforcement equipment  keeps improving.

The latest: Improvements in iris scan technology that can read people’s eyes to identify them, USA Today reports.

It’s considered a quicker alternative to  fingerprinting.

USA Today reports that the Department of Homeland Security will run a two-week test in October of commercially sold iris scanners at a Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas. It will be used on illegal immigrants.

The previous generation of eye scanners had to capture images from just a few inches away. But USA Today reports that the new ones can capture images from six feet away.

The ACLU has concerns.

lawyer Christopher Calabrese fears that the cameras could be used covertly. “If you can identify any individual at a distance and without their knowledge, you literally allow the physical tracking of a person anywhere there’s a camera and access to the Internet,” ACLU lawyer Christopher Calabrese told USA Today.

Underwear Bomber Due in Court; His Attys Try to Get Plea Deal

Suspect Abdulmutallab/u.s. marhsals photo

Suspect Abdulmutallab/u.s. marhsals photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The infamous underwear bomber who tried blowing up a plane arriving in Detroit on Christmas day last year is due in court Monday, the Associated Press reported.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab of Nigeria is expected to appear before U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds in downtown Detroit, AP reported. She’s expected to set a trial date.

AP reported that defense lawyers filed a court papers last week saying they had talked to prosecutors on “multiple occasions” about a possible plea agreement. The U.S. attorney’s office has declined to comment, AP reported.

“Making a plea deal would send the wrong message. … They have enough evidence to put Mr. Abdulmutallab in prison for life,” Shama Chopra, who was on the plane, and husband Ray Chopra of Montreal said in an e-mail, according to AP.

To read more click here.

Mexican Marines Capture Drug Kingpin “El Grande”

mexico-mapBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Amid the seemingly endless stream of depressing news out of Mexico involving violence and drugs comes a little bit of good news.

The Associated Press reports that Mexican Marines in the central state of Puebla on Sunday captured Sergio Villarreal Barragan, leader of the embattled Beltran Leyva drug cartel. Known as “El Grande”, he was on the country’s most-wanted fugitives list.

AP reports that he was captured with two accomplices. The raid involved 30 Navy marines, five vehicles and a helicopter.

“This is a new and resounding blow by the federal government against crime, given the high rank and dangerousness of this person inside one of the country’s most extensive criminal organizations which has been deeply weakened,” government security spokesman Alejandro Poire said in a statement, according to AP.

To read more click here.

Washington Post Editorial: U.S. Guns Going to Mexico is “Scandalous”

drug war-gunBy The Washington Post
Editorial Page

WASHINGTON — SECRETARY OF STATE Hillary Rodham Clinton caused a stir last week by suggesting that Mexico’s drug-trafficking gangs were beginning to resemble an insurgency, like that which has plagued Colombia.

She’s right in the sense that the cartels have come to effectively control parts of the country, where they “attempt to replace the state,” as Mexican President Felipe Calderón put it last month. Like most insurgencies, the Mexican drug armies also have an external source of funding and weapons. Shamefully, that is the United States.

A new report details the abundance of U.S. weapons delivered to the cartels — and the inadequacy of U.S. efforts to stop the illegal trafficking.

According to authors Colby Goodman and Michel Marizco, at least 62,800 of the more than 80,000 firearms confiscated by Mexican authorities from December 2006 to February 2010 came from the United States. Guns are being smuggled across the border at a rate of up to 5,000 per year. The top two varieties are assault rifles: Romanian-made AK47s and clones of the Bushmaster AR-15.

To read more click here.

9 Ex-DEA Officials Ask Justice Dept. to Challenge Legalization of Marijuana in Calif.

marijuana-umledu2By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Nine former DEA administrators have fired off a letter to Attorney Gen. Eric Holder Jr. asking that he step in if Californians in November vote to legalize marijuana, the Associated Press reports.

AP reports that the administrators wrote an Aug. 24 letter to Holder asking that he file a lawsuit challenging the legalization if voters approve Proposition 19.

The letter says that legalization of marijuana would challenge federal authority, AP reported. The administrators said the lawsuit would be similar to one the administration filed in Arizona involving immigrants.

“We would expect the Department of Justice to act just as swiftly and for the same reason,” the letter said, according to AP.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Weekend Series Commemorating the 9th Anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 Attack

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUuYLJ5SZ1w

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kv4s3fn8jDc

Former ICE Official Charged with Scamming Govt out of $582,000 in Salary Scheme With Wife

iceBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A former assistant special agent in charge for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in California was arrested Friday on charges that he scammed the government by approving $582,000 in salary and benefits for his wife, who virtually did no work, the Los Angeles U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.

Authorities said that Frank Eugene Johnston, 51, surrendered to special agents with ICE’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). He had retired in August 2009 after 31 years in federal law enforcement.

The indictment alleges that he approved the bogus salary for his wife Taryn Johnston while they were at ICE and its predecessor agency, the Immigration and Naturalization Service. She was also taken into custody on charges that she lied to ICE OPR investigators by saying she worked for the pay.

Taryn Johnston, 53, had worked as an immigration enforcement agent and then as an intelligence research specialist for the law enforcement agencies .

The indictment alleges that Frank Johnston became his wife’s supervisor and in 2002 and assigned her to “an isolated INS sub-office, approximately six blocks away from the INS main office in Los Angeles.”

Soon after that, she stopped going to work and Frank Johnston approved her time sheets, which “frequently also claimed premium pay for overtime and holiday hours,” authorities charged.

Terri Tollefson, special agent in charge for the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility in Los Angeles, said in a statement: “As this indictment makes clear, ICE takes charges of employee misconduct seriously and we will aggressively investigate any allegations that arise. We hold our employees to the highest standards of professional and personal integrity. Guarding against illegal or unethical behavior is not an option; it is an obligation we have to the people we serve.”

D.C. Mayoral Challenger Vincent Gray Turns to FBI Before Primary

Mayor Fenty/campaign photo

Mayor Fenty/campaign photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Allegations of political misdeeds in the nation’s capital more often than not center around some politicos on Capitol Hill.

But not to be outdone, D.C. City Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray is stirring some controversy on the local political scene.

Gray and his advisers said they have asked the FBI to investigate allegations that incumbent Mayor Adrian Fenty offered offered young adults jobs in exchange for votes, a possible violation of fed election laws, the Washington Post reports.

“We are deeply concerned,” Gray said at a news conference in front of his campaign headquarters in Chinatown, according to the Post. “There are very few things that are more sacrosanct, sacred, than the voting process, and we want to make sure it’s fully preserved in the city.”

The Post reported that the FBI referred questions to the Justice Department, which declined comment. The Democratic primary is set for Sept. 14.