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March 2011


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Archive for March, 2011

DEA Bans Chemicals Used to Make “Fake Pot”

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — Invoking a temporary emergency order, the  DEA announced Tuesday that it was making it illegal to sell or possess five chemicals used to make  smokeable “herbal incense” commonly known as “fake pot.”

“Young people are being harmed when they smoke these dangerous ‘fake pot’ products and wrongly equate the products’ ‘legal’ retail availability with being ‘safe’,” DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart said in a statement.

“Parents and community leaders look to us to help them protect their kids, and we have not let them down. Today’s action, while temporary, will reduce the number of young people being seen in hospital emergency rooms after ingesting these synthetic chemicals to get high.”

Under the temporary action, the products will remain illegal for at least a year while the DEA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study the issue. The DEA said the products are now designated as Schedule I substances, the most restrictive category.

During the past couple years, the smokeable herbal products sold at stores, particularly drug paraphernalia shops and on the Internet,  have become increasingly popular among teens and young adults, the DEA said.

The products are often sold under such brands as “Spice,” “K2,” “Blaze,” and “Red X Dawn” and “are labeled as herbal incense to mask their intended purpose,” the DEA said.

The DEA said at least 16 states have taken action to ban one or more of these chemicals.

Is the Chicago Judge Going too Far by Withholding Jurors Names After the Verdict?

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel

Imagine taxpayers spending millions of dollars collectively trying an Illinois governor, and in the end, the case all but collapses. The jurors only convict on one of 24 counts . They end up deadlocked on the rest.

Imagine that. Yes,it’s not too hard, considering it happened in the first trial of ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Isn’t it fair to assume people want to know why the case collapsed? Can we go as far as to say they have a right to know? I’d say Yes.

So I speak with some mixed feelings when I read that the U.S. District Judge James Zagel in Chicago on Tuesday ruled that he won’t release the names of the jurors until 9 a.m., the day after the verdict in the retrial of Blagojevich, which begins April 20.

The judge wants to  protect the jurors. Fair.

Zagel raises some good points: He says the press after the first trial hounded the jurors to find out what they were thinking. They knocked on doors. A TV helicopter reportedly flew up above a home where one jury was staying, the Associated Press reported. The judge has said the press was  obnoxious, that reporters went too far.

I’m for some balance. Jurors have rights.  But so does the public — the right to know. At minimum, the judge — and in other high profile cases as well — should strongly suggest — and not just throw it out as an option — that at least one of the jurors should brief the press after the verdict. Judges have a way of being persuasive, particularly after they bond with jurors during a trial. They can make it happen. And maybe that way, reporters wouldn’t have to knock on doors.

We have a right to know: What the prosecution, what the defense  did right, what they did wrong. Was it taxpayers’ money well spent? Did justice — regardless of the verdict — prevail?

There should be dignity in these proceedings. No question. But citizens — the lion’s share who don’t have time to attend these trials  — have the right to know what’s going on in the courts.

And while I’m at it, frankly, it’s time to bring television cameras into federal court to let citizens — some who have never stepped foot in a federal court — see what’s going on.  Worse yet, some federal courts, like in  Alexandria, Va., do everything to make it difficult for the press to do its job. The court there doesn’t allow reporters to carry cell phones (this is the 21st Century) and laptops (granted they shouldn’t be used in the courtrooms).

I have to commend federal courthouses like the one in Washington, which try to accommodate the press. Reporters can carry cell phones and bring a laptop into the courthouse.  And during some trials, like the one in D.C. involving Sen. Ted Stevens, the court set up an overflow room with TV monitors where reporters used laptops to report to the public what was going on. Other courthouses should follow suit.

Federal court is a dignified place.  But let’s strike a balance. Let’s not lose sight of the fact the people have a right to know what’s going on!

Chicago FBI Looking for Folks With Foreign Language Skills

By Allan Lengel

As part of its ongoing battle against a host of crimes including cyber crime, terrorism, foreign counterintelligence, corruption, kidnapping and civil rights violations,the FBI in Chicago is looking to recruit contract linguists with foreign language skills.

The bureau is hosting a foreign language career fair on March 12 at the offices of the Illinois Medical District, 2100 W Harrison Street, in Chicago from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The FBI said prospects must be U.S. citizens.

In a press release, the FBI in Chicago said the agency is looking “to add to its foreign language program individuals fluent in Chinese (all dialects), Korean, Turkish, Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, Somali, Spanish, and Hebrew. However, positions are available for persons with any foreign language fluency.”

The agency said the contract linguists translate documents or audio, serve as interpreters for investigative interviews and provide translation during visits by foreign dignitaries.

The pay ranges from $27 to $41 per hour.

Chief of Security at W. Va. Mine Charged With Lying to FBI and Destroying Documents

By Allan Lengel

The chief of security at the Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia where 29 people died last April  in an explosion, was arrested Monday for obstructing the investigation into the disaster by allegedly lying to the FBI and destroying documents.

The Justice Department said Elbert Stover, 60, of Clear Fork, W. Va., was indicted on charges of making false statements to an FBI agent and a special investigator for the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).

Authorities said agent were investigating allegations that security guards at the mine routinely notified mine personnel when MHSA inspectors arrived at the mine in Montcoal, W. Va.

Authorities said Stover falsely denied that such a practice existed and falsely told the agents that he would have fired any security guard who provided such advance notice. But in reality, authorities alleged, Stover himself instructed UBB security guards to notify mine personnel whenever MSHA inspectors arrived at the mine.

Authorities also alleged also alleged Stover “recently caused a person known to the grand jury to dispose of thousands of pages of security-related documents stored in a Massey building near the UBB mine, with the intent to impede the federal investigation.”

“The conduct charged by the grand jury—obstruction of justice and false statements to federal investigators—threatens our effort to find out what happened at Upper Big Branch,” U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said in a statement. “With 29 coal miners lost and thousands more waiting for answers about what caused the disaster, this inquiry is simply too important to tolerate any attempt to hinder it.”

“The explosion at Upper Big Branch was a national tragedy, and this investigation is a priority for the Department of Justice,” added Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division in a stsatement.

Column: FBI’s Arrest of Would-Be Bush Assassin Not Luck

Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari/lubbock sherrif's dept.

By Ronald Kessler

The arrest of a Saudi man for allegedly plotting to blow up the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush is being widely portrayed as a lucky break for the FBI.

Carolina Biological Supply called the FBI to report that Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, a 20-year-old college student from Saudi Arabia, had tried to buy large quantities of concentrated phenol, which can be used to make a high explosive. The order was sent to a freight company, which called police in Lubbock, where Aldawsari lived, and the police also notified the FBI.

That sequence of events led many commentators to call the arrest a matter of “luck,” as former CIA officer Michael Scheuer put it on Fox News.

In fact, the arrest is a direct result of FBI Director Robert Mueller’s strategy after 9/11 of transforming the FBI from an agency that emphasizes prosecutions to one that focuses on stopping plots before they happen.

To read more click here.

FBI Document Says Ted Kennedy Rented Brothel in 1961 in Chile

By Allan Lengel

Over the decades, detractors and supporters saw the many sides of Ted Kennedy; the playboy, the tireless public servant, the advocate for the poor and universal health care,  the man who left the scene at Chappaquiddick.

Now comes the latest: The conservative group Judicial Watch has obtained FBI files through the Freedom of Information Act– including one dated Dec. 28, 1961 –that says “while Kennedy was in Santiago, he made arrangements to ‘rent” a brothel for an entire night. Kennedy allegedly invited one of the Embassy chauffeurs to participate in the night’s activities.”

Kennedy was an assistant district attorney in Boston at the time. He was elected to the Senate the following year in 1962.

During his tour of Latin America, the documents said, he met with communist sympathizers and while in Mexico City, asked the ambassador to invite left-wingers to the embassy so he could interview them.

“However, the Ambassador refused to do so and stated that if any such interviews were to be conducted, all arrangements would have to be made by Kennedy himself,” the FBI file said.

“Subsequently, a State Department official in Lima, Peru, confidentially advised that Kennedy had made a similar request in Peru, and this official described Kennedy as ‘pompous and spoiled brat’,”the file said.

To read the files click here.

Retired FBI Agent Southerton Decides to Try Politics

By Allan Lengel

Life after the FBI can take some unexpected turns. Ask retired agent Richard Southerton.

The 25-year veteran of the FBI is tossing his hat into the ring in a run for a seat on the Wayne County Commission in Pennsylvania, according to the Scranton Times Tribune.

“In my wildest dreams, it’s not something I thought I would ever do,” Southerton told the paper.

The Wayne County native joins an expanding field of candidates in the May Democratic primary, the paper reported.

“I’m a newcomer all around. I don’t owe any allegiances to anybody,” Southerton said, according to the paper. “I’m not a career politician. I’m just looking to do the right thing.”

The job pays $50,150.