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Archive for October, 2010

President Obama’s Comments Unfortunately May Reflect Attitude Toward DEA

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — President Obama is a busy guy with a lot of worries. So he might be excused when he commits a little Washington faux pas as he did last week during a town hall meeting with young people.

While discussing  “federal drug enforcement”, he mentioned the Justice Department and FBI, but not the  DEA,the lead agency in the war on drugs.

“We have to figure out who is it we’re going after because we’ve got limited resources,” he said. “So decisions that are made by the Justice Department or FBI about prosecuting drug kingpins versus somebody with some small amount, those decisions are made based on how can we best enforce the laws that are on the books.”

In many ways, it was not a big deal. But the comment rubbed some folks at DEA the wrong way. Plus, agents felt it was reflective of the administration’s overall attitude toward the DEA.

“I don’t think he’s given any thought to the DEA,” one agent told me. “We’ve become an afterthought, the stepchild when it comes to the FBI and Justice Department.”

So frankly, you can’t be totally dismissive of those sentiments.

For one, Michele Leonhart, the acting head of the agency, was nominated by the president in February, but has yet to be confirmed. To boot, she’s been acting head of the agency since 2007.  The absence of a confirmation is unsettling for some in the agency.

With Mexico raging out of control, and  the cartels tentacles reaching far into the U.S., the DEA may not be   the agency the administration wants to short change — and that also means when it comes to giving a shoutout publicly about federal drug law enforcement.

Column: Pres. Obama’s Comments May Unfortunately Reflect Attitude Toward DEA

Allan Lengel

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — President Obama is a busy guy with a lot of worries. So he might be excused when he commits a little Washington faux pas as he did during a town hall meeting last week with young people.

While discussing  “federal drug enforcement”, he mentioned the Justice Department and FBI, but not the  DEA,the lead agency in the war on drugs.

“We have to figure out who is it we’re going after because we’ve got limited resources,” he said. “So decisions that are made by the Justice Department or FBI about prosecuting drug kingpins versus somebody with some small amount, those decisions are made based on how can we best enforce the laws that are on the books.”

In many ways, it was not big deal. But the comment rubbed some folks at DEA the wrong way. Plus, agents felt it was reflective of the administration’s overall attitude toward the DEA.

“I don’t think he’s given any thought to the DEA,” one agent told me. “We’ve become an afterthought, the stepchild when it comes to the FBI and Justice Department.”

So frankly, you can’t be totally dismissive of those sentiments.

For one, Michele Leonhart, the acting head of the agency, was nominated by the president in February, but has yet to be confirmed. To boot, she’s been acting head of the agency since 2007.  The absence of a confirmation is unsettling for some in the agency.

With Mexico raging out of control, and  the cartels tentacles reaching far into the U.S., the DEA may not be   the agency the administration wants to short change — and that also means when it comes to giving a shoutout publicly about federal drug law enforcement.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Atty. Gen. Holder Vows to Go After Pot Even if Calif. Voters Approve Prop 19

holder eric

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The pot thing just keeps getting more confusing and complex.

Attorney Gen. Eric Holder Jr. has vowed to “vigorously enforce” federal marijuana laws even if Californians  vote next month to legalize pot with Prop 19, the Associated Press reports.

Holder’s comments were contained  in a letter to ex-federal drug enforcement chiefs, AP reported.

The letter did raise questions as to what extent authorities would crack down on small time users and dealers and whether resources were available to even do that, AP reported.

Still Holder wrote:

“We will vigorously enforce the CSA against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacture or distribute marijuana for recreational use, even if such activities are permitted under state law.”

FBI Was Warned Years Before About Mumbai Attacker’s Link to Terrorism

india map2
By Sebastian Rotella
ProPublica

Three years before Pakistani terrorists struck Mumbai in 2008, federal agents in New York City investigated a tip that an American businessman was training in Pakistan with the group that later executed the attack.

The previously undisclosed allegations against David Coleman Headley, who became a key figure in the plot that killed 166 people, came from his wife after a domestic dispute that resulted in his arrest in 2005.

In three interviews with federal agents, Headley’s wife said that he was an active militant in the terrorist group Lashkar-i-Taiba, had trained extensively in its Pakistani camps, and had shopped for night vision goggles and other equipment, according to officials and sources close to the case.

The wife, whom ProPublica is not identifying to protect her safety, also told agents that Headley had bragged of working as a paid U.S. informant while he trained with the terrorists in Pakistan, according to a person close to the case.

Federal officials say the FBI “looked into” the tip, but they declined to say what, if any, action was taken. Headley was jailed briefly in New York on charges of domestic assault, but was not prosecuted. He wasn’t captured until 11 months after the Mumbai attack, when British intelligence alerted U.S. authorities that he was in contact with al Qaeda operatives in Europe.

Read more »

Weekend Series on Crime: ATF Infiltrates Mongols Biker Gang

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLnX8RkLjZg

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzqnuBB6-3g

Religious Leaders and Son Denounce Justice Dept. Report on FBI Shooting of Detroit Imam

detroit mapBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A group of religious and civil rights leaders isn’t buying the Justice Department’s report this week that the FBI acted properly when it shot and killed Detroit Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah last October during a raid on a suburban warehouse, the Detroit Free Press reported.

The paper reported that Christian, Muslim and African American leaders gathered at a press conference Thursday at the Muslim Center in Detroit and said the Justice Department report was incomplete and failed to examine the use of undercover informants in Islamic communities.

“I had high hopes” for the report, said Omar Regan, son of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, according to the Free Press. “We’re disappointed.”

The paper said the FBI in Detroit and the Justice Department declined comment.

Luqman was shot and killed by FBI agents after he opened fire and shot and killed an FBI dog, authorities said.

To read more click here.

Investigators in Chandra Levy Case Wrote Letters Under Fake Female Name to Suspect

Chandra Levy

Chandra Levy

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Investigators wrote letters to the accused murderer of intern Chandra Levy, posing as  a woman, hoping to get a confession, the Washington Post reported. They never got a confession.

Still, the defense team raised the issue Thursday in a pretrial hearing in D.C. Superior Court, and unsuccessfully tried to get the judge to dismiss the charges, saying D.C. police orchestrated the “ruse” and made contact with the client, Ingmar Guandique, without going through his attorneys — a violation of his rights, the Post reported.

“We don’t know if this action was hatched with the assistance of prosecutors or done by police alone,” defense attorney Santha Sonenberg said, according to the Post. “Knowing [Guandique] had asserted his attorney rights and did not want to talk about it, is offensive.”

Judge Gerald Fisher did not dismiss the charges, but said he would review the matter to determine if he should take action, the Post said. Trial is set for Monday.

The Post reported that the officers wrote the letters to Guandique in prison under the name “Maria Lopez” between 2004 and 2005, but Guandique never confessed to anything, the Post reported.

Guandique, 29, is already serving a 10-year sentence for attacking two women in Rock Creek Park in 2001.

To read more click here.

U.S. Atty in NY May Indict Afghan President’s Brother

afghanistan mapBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The feds in New York are considering indicting Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s brother — a U.S. citizen who used to reside in Maryland — on tax evasion, the Washington Post reports.

The Post, which contact brother Mahmoud Karzai by phone for comment, quoted him as saying he had not been contacted by U.S. authorities and “I know myself. I’m very clean.”

The Post, quoting a source familiar with the investigation, said Mahmoud Karzai is expected to be indicted, but “The $64,000 question is when.”

Karzai, a former Baltimore restaurant owner, may face tax charges as a result of the sale of his luxury villa in the Gulf emirate in 2008, the Post reported.

To read more click here.