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Archive for October, 2010

Justice Dept. Wants to Bar Indicted Miss. FBI Agent From Alleging U.S. Attorney Had a Vendetta

Mississippi Road SignBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department is asking a federal judge in Mississippi to stop defense attorneys for an indicted FBI agent from alleging that the charges stem from a vendetta from the former U.S. Attorney, the Associated Press reported.

The agent, Hal Neilson, was indicted in January for allegedly failing to disclose his ownership of an Oxford, Miss. office which he headed up, and then lying about it. Trial is set for Nov. 8 in Aberdeen, Miss.

AP reports that the government in a motion asked that the judge bar Neilson from alleging that the indictment is the result of a vendetta by Jim Greenlee, who was U.S. attorney at the time the charges were filed.

Prosecutors argued Neilson should bring that claim up with the judge, not the jury, AP reported.

Neilson has alleged that the the U.S. Attorney came after him after he criticized investigations into nearly 150 north Mississippi residents of Middle Eastern origin and questioned a probe of a beef plant.

Did the Prez Really Say That About Nominees for U.S. Attorney and Marshals?

The President in Louisiana/white house photo

The President in Louisiana/white house photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — While Washington may be our nation’s capital, it’s not likely to be mistaken for the capital of sincerity.

Which brings us to the endless stream of press releases the White House  issues when announcing the nominations of U.S. Attorneys and U.S. Marshals.

Take, for example, on June 9, when the White House issued a press release announcing the nomination of six U.S. Marshals, President Obama was quoted as saying: “Throughout their careers these individuals have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to justice.”

On the same day,when the White House announced the nomination of Robert O’Neill for U.S. Attorney in Florida, President Obama said: “Robert O’Neill has shown an unwavering commitment to justice throughout his career.”

On July 14, in nominating four U.S. Marshals, the President said in a press release: “These individuals have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to public service throughout their careers.”

On July 21, the White House issued another press release announcing the nomination of three more U.S. Marshals and President Obama was quoted as saying: “Throughout their careers these individuals have shown a deep commitment to public service.” On Aug. 4, in announcing three more U.S. Marshals, the President said: “Throughout their careers, these dedicated law enforcement professionals have shown an unwavering commitment to public service.”

Get the point?

In other words, the White House just loads the press releases with boilerplate quotes that are in all likelihood written by someone else. In fact, don’t be surprised if the president never saw — let alone uttered those words before they went into the release, media experts say.

Reporters see the quotes as nothing more than boilerplate quotes, quotes to be ignored. They seldom end up in print or on the air unless there’s a need to fill some space.

NBC's Michael Isikoff/ meet the press photo

NBC's Michael Isikoff/ meet the press photo

“These are pretty much assembly line press releases churned out by some junior staffer toiling in the white house boiler room,” says Washington investigative reporter Michael Isikoff, formerly of Newsweek and now of NBC News.

The quotes, he said,  “generally go to the delete pile.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a written request for comment.

Don Goldberg, a former Clinton White House staff member and former investigative reporter for the late columnist Jack Anderson, said the boiler plate language is meant more for the families and relatives  to see.

Goldberg, a partner in Qorvis, a Washington corporate communications firm, said it’s likely someone on a lower level makes up some of the quotes and gets approval from someone higher up in the communication department.

After that, he said, ” they probably have a standard quote they use over and over again. The notion that they would spend time with the president or even the chief of staff on this, it’s just not what they do.”

Fed Law Association Produces Video on ATF Agent Accused of Murder in Virgin Islands; Calls For Oct. 13 Rally to Support Agent

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SS-8FWvx_w

Column: Ex-FBI Agent Says U.S. Must Close Case on USS Cole

uss-cole-crest-234x300Ali H. Soufan was an F.B.I. special agent from 1997 to 2005.

By ALI H. SOUFAN
New York Times Op-Ed

TEN years ago, Qaeda terrorists blew a hole in the side of the Navy destroyer Cole in Yemen, killing 17 sailors. Yet the attack’s mastermind still hasn’t been prosecuted, and many of the men tried and imprisoned for the bombing are again free.

As Washington debates whether to increase aid to Yemen, it should first remember its duty to seek justice for those sailors — and to heed the broader national-security lessons from the attack.

As soon as the F.B.I. received news of the Oct. 12 bombing, I flew to Yemen with a team to investigate. The bodies of sailors draped in flags on a blood-stained deck, guarded by teary-eyed survivors, formed a heartbreaking image that motivated us during the following months.

Our investigation faced difficulties from the beginning. Yemen’s weak central government’s on-again, off-again relationship with extremists meant that Al Qaeda had influential sympathizers in positions of authority, as well as among powerful tribes in the country’s vast desert. As a consequence, we regularly faced death threats, smokescreens and bureaucratic obstructions.

To read more click here.

ATF Offering $5,000 Reward in Arson of Indianapolis Cop’s Home

indianapolis policeBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

ATF is offering a $5,000 reward in the arson fire of an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police officer’s home on Sept. 20.

Authorities say someone set fire to the home shortly after 1 a.m. on Chateaugay Drive while the officer and his family were inside. All escaped unharmed.

The home was destroyed and damages were in excess of $100,000, ATF said.

“This act of violence endangered a police officer and his family. Thankfully no one was injured by this cowardly violent act,” Chris Sadowski, special agent in charge of the ATF office in Columbus, Ohio said in a statement.

It’s Official: DiCaprio to Play Hoover in Clint Eastwood Film

Leonardo DiCaprio/photo from his website

Leonardo DiCaprio/photo from his website

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It’s official: Actor Leonardo DiCaprio will play J. Edgar Hoover in director Clint Eastwood’s upcoming film on the legendary FBI director.

Eastwood told Reuters news service that “it’s a great role for” DiCaprio and that he was in the process of signing a contract with the popular actor.

Eastwood Monday shot down rumors that actor Joaquin Phoenix would be in the film and play Clyde Tolson, Hoover’s right hand man.

J. Edgar Hoover/fbi photo

J. Edgar Hoover/fbi photo

Commenting on Hoover, Eastwood told Reuters:

“He was a very complex person. The homosexual aspect is just one of many. I would say that’s the least of his problems. But he was also very clever, whether rightfully or wrongfully, he was very clever about keeping himself in a certain position in life, so it is an interesting study.”

Should be interesting– and controversial.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Border Patrol Agent in Tex. Fatally Shoots Unarmed Teen After Struggle

Border PatrolBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI and other agencies are probing an incident Friday in which a U.S. Border Patrol agent in Texas shot and killed an unarmed teen who was driving a pickup truck filled with marijuana,the Associated Press reported.

AP reported that the driver Juan Mendez,18, of Eagle Pass, Tex., died after getting into a struggle with an agent.

According to the AP report, the agent stopped 18-year-old Juan Mendez’s vehicle around 9 a.m. and Mendez tried to escape and struggled with the agent, who then shot him twice as he broke free. Authorities captured a 15 year old who ran from the truck.

Authorities said they found 325 pounds of marijuana in the truck, AP reported. The agent has been placed on routine administrative lead pending the outcome of the investigation.

“CBP regrets the loss of life and awaits the results of the investigation into this incident,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Dennis Smith, according to AP.

Head of Sacramento FBI Drew Parenti Stepping Down

Drew Parenti/fbi photo

Drew Parenti/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Drew Parenti, head of the FBI’s Sacarmento bureau, is retiring to take a job as vice president of security for Penske Truck Leasing in Reading, Pa., the Sacramento Bee is reporting.

Parenti, 50, a 26 year bureau veteran, said the FBI is “a hard organization to leave,” according to the paper.

U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner told the Bee: “I am very, very sad to see him go. We had some controversial prosecutions a few years ago that obviously took a toll on our relationship” with the Muslim American community, the paper said.

“Drew came in and helped us get on a lot better footing, and I think that has paid dividends for law enforcement and the community,” said Wagner. “He immediately took an interest in reaching out to members of underserved communities.”

To read more click here.