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Archive for May, 2011

Column: If Congress Extends FBI Dir. Mueller’s Term, Let’s Not Do it Again For Anyone Else

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON –– I have mixed feelings about the White House proposal to have FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III stay two years more beyond his 10-year term, which expires in September. The opinions of newspaper editorial boards around the country reflect my ambivalence.

All recognize the need for continuity in such uncertain times. All praise Mueller for taking on the job at a time of rapid change. They also note that after Hoover’s death in 1972, Congress passed legislation to limit the term to 10-years, pointing to the politics and power Hoover amassed, and how he abused his position and stepped over the line and made many important people, including presidents, fear him.

Continuity. Sure it’s important. But change is constant, a part of life, a part of Washington.  And as the Washington Post rightfully asks:”But when are continuity and stability at the FBI not critical?”

Read more »

DEA Official James Akagi Named Police Chief in Tennessee

James Akagi/ oakridge gov photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

James T. Akagi, an assistant special agent in charge of the Oklahoma City DEA office, and a 25-year veteran of the agency, has been named the new police chief for Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Oak Ridge city manager Mark Watson said Akagi, 49, began his career with the DEA in 1986, and was stationed at a number of international and domestic offices including Los Angeles, Dallas and Santo Domingo,  according to a press release. He was picked among 117 applicants.

He will head up a department of 61 sworn personnel and 17 civilians with a $6 million budget.

His salary will be $110,000, a drop from $151,269 at the DEA, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported

Texas County Threatens to Charge ATF After Detonating Explosives that Triggered Mass Fire

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

ATF has rubbed the Motley County, Tex., government the wrong way.

The city attorney Tom Edwards says ATF could face Class C misdemeanor charges for violating the county’s burn ban after the agency detonated unwanted explosives, which triggered a fire that scorched 150 acres of land, according to the Plainview Daily Herald.

“We have the federal government that has just refused aid to the state of Texas for all our fire damage throughout the state, and then here comes federal agents who start another fire,” Edwards told KCBD-TV.

The Plainview paper reported that Jim Luera, resident agent in charge for the ATF in Lubbock, took full responsibility for the fire. It took close to six hours to extinguish the blaze.

Luera said ATF detonated the explosives because it had a mounting stockpile, the paper reported. He said the detonations were used as a training exercise for bomb squads from several area cities.

He said landowners would be reimbursed for the damage, the paper reported.

FBI Suspects Mobster “Whitey” Bulger is in Europe

Boston Mobster Whitey Bulger

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI suspects that Top Ten Fugitive, Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger is hiding out in Europe, Time magazine reports.

A team of investigators are ” keeping a close eye on Europe,” Time reported. “The team has an idea of which country Bulger is possibly in but won’t say for fear of alerting him.”

Bulger, who is a suspect in 19 murders, was last spotted in London in 2002 by a businessman at the gym of the Meridien Hotel in the city’s Piccadilly Circus, Time reported.

Bulger has been on the lam for about 15 years. The FBI is offering a $2 million reward for his arrest.

The magazine reported that Bulger told people one day he expected to be on the lam.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICE ACT STORIES OF INTEREST

Agents’ Opinions Range from Good to Bad to Mixed on FBI Dir. Robert Mueller Getting 2-Year Extension

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Nearly everyone in the FBI can agree they were caught off guard by President Obama’s announcement Thursday that he would seek to have FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III stay on for two more years beyond his 10-year term.

What they all don’t agree on is whether it’s a good thing, with opinions ranging from good to bad to mixed. Most agents spoke to ticklethewire.com on the condition that they not be named.

“”It is wonderful,” said one agent. “It is great for our country.”

But some agents thought it was time for Mueller, 66, to go, and were critical of his focus on certain crimes and intelligence issues at the expense of others. They also have long advocated that a former agent — Mueller is a former federal prosecutor — would better understand their mindset and mission.

“I think it was time for a change,” said one agent, who was hoping the new director would be ex-FBI official Mike Mason, the choice of the FBI Agents Association.

Conversely, he said some of the names that had surfaced as potential replacements concerned him.

“It could have been worse,” he said of Mueller staying.

Another agent expressed mixed views as well.

“I think there are pluses and minuses,” said the agent. “I like Mueller. I don’t agree with everything he does. He’s got the toughest job around. And he’s done a good job.”

The agent said it’s good to have continuity at this time.

“”We just killed bin laden,” the agent said. “Threat levels are up. We’re in times we’ve never seen before. We’ve got wars on two fronts.”

The downside, he said, is that the legislation mandating term limits for the FBI director are “designed to bring in new blood. He also said the term limit was put in place to prevent politics from playing a role in the job, and to keep someone from creating a legacy like J. Edgar Hoover.

“The law was set for a reason. Are we defeating its purpose?” he asked.

Andrew G. Arena, special agent in charge of the Detroit FBI, said: “I think for the sake of the agency, it’s a good thing. It will provide continuity.  We’ll just carry on as we have been.”

With a new person, he noted:”You don’t know if someone is going to come in and change the direction” of the agency. “There was the fear of the unknown.”

Konrad Motyka, president of the FBI Agents Association, which had backed former FBI official Mike Mason as the next director, came out with a statement saying:

“I congratulate Director Robert Mueller on President Obama’s request to Congress to extend Director Mueller’s term for an additional two years.

“President Obama’s request to Congress reflects the critical role that the Director has played in transitioning the Bureau to a post-9/11 world that requires both investigative and intelligence gathering skills. We look forward to working with Director Mueller to continue to enhance the effectiveness of the FBI in the fight against terrorism and emerging threats without compromising the Bureau’s established expertise at both criminal and counterintelligence investigations.”

Mike Mason, who had worked under Mueller,  said Thursday: ” I couldn’t be happier.  I’m glad. He’s got the momentum going on a  lot of initiatives and this keeps the bureau marching in the right direction. ”

Mueller’s 10-year-term expires in September. Congress passed a law putting a 10-year term limit. Congress will now have to pass some type of legislation that would allow Mueller to remain for two more years.

Mueller has generally been warmly received on Capitol Hill, and is unlikely to find much opposition from Congress.

Stripper Loving Fed Judge Free After 3 Weeks In Prison; Some Think He Got Off Way Too Easy

Judge Jack Camp/daily report

Judge Jack Camp/daily report

By Allan Lengel
For The Daily

A 67-year-old federal judge jailed after a crime spree involving drugs, guns and a prostitute was freed on May 9 after serving just three weeks.

Judge Jack T. Camp, Jr, a Ronald Reagan appointee, agreed to a plea deal, but many in the legal community believe Camp got off easy.  The fallen Georgia judge received 30 days, but he got credit for the initial time he spent in the county jail.

“Bringing a gun to a drug deal would have gotten anyone else a mandatory five years in prison,” said Atlanta defense attorney Marcia Shein.

The married father of two grown children went astray a year ago after receiving a lap dance from Sherry Ann Ramos, a stripper who worked at the Goldrush strip club in Atlanta.

To read the full story click here.

NY FBI JTTF Opts Out of NYPD Terror Case; Says Case was Problematic

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Friction is mounting between the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and New York police.

Radio station WNYC reports that the FBI’s JTTF chose not to get involved in a case involving two New York men allegedly involved in a plot to blow up a local synagogue because it was problematic, was being over-hyped and might not hold up in court. The station cited two unnamed federal sources.

But Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne told the station: “When somebody acquires weapons and plans to bomb the largest synagogue in Manhattan he can find, what do you call it, mischief?”

The FBI and New York Police, which has its own sophisticated counterterrorism unit, have beefed in the past.

Some FBI agents have privately questioned the tactics used by the NYPD unit and vice versa.

FBI Dir. Robert Mueller Among Thousands Who Attend Candlelight Vigil at National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial

FBI Dir. Robert Mueller and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md) were among the thousands who attended Friday night's candlelight vigil in front of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington to honor those who gave their lives in the line of duty. The ceremony included a reading of the 316 names being added to the memorial this year. Below is a photo of the crowd/FBI photo