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Archive for May, 2011

Surprise Surprise: White House Wants FBI Dir. Mueller to Stay on for 2 More Years

Robert Mueller III last year in Denver at IACP / file fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — In a surprise move, President Obama announced Thursday he is seeking a two-year extension for FBI director Robert S. Mueller.

The move took many by surprise considering a search was underway for a replacement for Mueller whose 10-year term was coming to an end in September.

“In his ten years at the FBI, Bob Mueller has set the gold standard for leading the Bureau,” President Obama said in a statement.

“Given the ongoing threats facing the United States, as well as the leadership transitions at other agencies like the Defense Department and Central Intelligence Agency, I believe continuity and stability at the FBI is critical at this time.”

“Bob transformed the FBI after September 11, 2001 into a pre-eminent counterterrorism agency, he has shown extraordinary leadership and effectiveness at protecting our country every day since. He has impeccable law enforcement and national security credentials, a relentless commitment to the rule of law, unquestionable integrity and independence, and a steady hand that has guided the Bureau as it confronts our most serious threats.”

Mueller sent an email to agency employees  notifying them of the White House’s intentions and saying that he would be honored to serve.

The move saves the White House any confirmation battles on Capitol Hill where Mueller seems to enjoy strong support.  However, that being said, there were a lot of pretty safe candidates being mentioned as possible replacements.

Still, the Congress will have to pass some form of legislation to deal with the the extension since the current law specifies that an FBI director can serve only 10 years. The Senate Judiciary committee said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is looking into what needs to be done legislatively to address the issue.

A Congressional aide said that Congress could pass a law changing the term limit for the FBI director or pass narrower legislation just to deal with Muller’s circumstances.

The reactions were mixed at the FBI. Some people were happy. Others had been looking forward to a change. And still others offered pros and cons to the move.

John Hinckley to Get More Visits to Mom’s House

John Hinckley Jr. -abc news photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — John Hinckley, who shot President Reagan outside a Washington hotel in 1981, will be getting more visits to his mother’s house in Virginia, the Associated Press reported.

U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman on Wednesday approved an unspecified number of extra visits for Hinckley, who is housed at St. Elizabeths Hospital, a psychiatric institution in a tough part of Southeast Washington.

AP reported that the hospital will file a plan by June for additional releases. U.S. Attorney spokesman Bill Miller told AP that the judge will detail the visits in a future court order.

Pakistani Ambassador Compares Hunt for bin Laden to Search for Boston Mobster “Whitey” Bulger

He became a familar fixture on the list.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Boston Globe editorial page took a little exception to Pakistani Ambassador Husain Haqqani remark defending his nation by comparing the hunt for Osama bin Laden to the perennial search for the FBI Ten Most Wanted fugitive James “Whitey” Bulger — a mobster wanted for multiple murders and other charges,

“If Whitey Bulger can live undetected by American police for so long,’’ Haqqani asked The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, “why can’t Osama bin Laden live undetected by Pakistani authorities?’’ Haqqani was a Boston University professor from 2004 to 2008. Bulger has been on the lam since 1994 and authorities are offering a $2 million reward for information leading to his capture.

The Globe Editorial page weighed in on the ambassador’s remark, saying: “In fact, Bulger got away because a person in the FBI tipped him off, just as US officials feared Pakistani authorities would tip off bin Laden. And Bulger’s support network of family and trusted friends seems a bit like the one that appears to have sustained bin Laden in Pakistan, much to the outrage of some Americans.”

Boston Mobster Whitey Bulger

Then the Globe tossed in this zinger: “Meanwhile, the FBI might do well to check out any walled compounds on the South Shore, just to be sure.”

FBI Tells Police Officials No Immediate Threats Following bin Laden Killing

Chief Charles Ramsey/dept. photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Leaders of the nation’s largest police organizations said they were briefed by the FBI after the killing of Osama bin Laden and told there appeared to be no immediate threats or active terrorist plots, USA Today reported.

The paper reported that the briefing came after federal officials were warned to be on guard for any acts of retaliation.

USA Today reported that Philly Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, president of the Major City Chiefs Association, said the FBI provided the briefing last week. Other organizations in attendance included the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the National Sheriffs Association.

Meanwhile, various media organizations reported that materials seized at the bin Laden compound showed that he was encouraging attacks on smaller cities in the U.S.

Accused Nazi Guard John Demjanjuk Convicted in Germany

John Demjanjuk/msnbc

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

John Demjanjuk, the suspected Nazi death camp guard,  was convicted in Munich on Thursday of helping force roughly 28,000 Jews to death during World War II, the New York Times reported.

The 91-year-old retired American autoworker was then sentenced to five years in prison, but was released pending his appeal. His lawyers insist he is innocent.

Authorities charged that Demjanjuk worked as a guard at the Sobibor death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1943. The Times reported that he was sentenced to death in Israel in 1988, but five years later the conviction was overturned after it was decided it was a case of mistaken identity.

“Grandad Bandit” Hit Up With 25 Years For Robbing 26 Banks in 14 States

Grandad Bandit/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI  may have thought Michael F. Mara looked grandfatherly when they dubbed the serial bank robber the “Grandad Bandit”.

Wait til he gets out of prison. They may want to consider changing his nickname to the “Great Grandad Bandit.”

Mara, 53, of Baton Rouge, La., was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Richomond, Va., to 25 years in prison for robbing 26 banks in 14 states, authorities announced. He was also ordered to pay $83,868 in restitution.

“Mr. Mara stole tens of thousands of dollars in a brazen crime spree that included robberies in more than a dozen states in just over two years,” said U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride. “One robbery alone is a very traumatic experience, and it takes a long time for the victim to feel safe going to work. Thanks to the great work of the FBI and an alert public, Mr. Mara will spend the rest of his productive life behind bars as punishment for his extensive crimes.”

Authorities said Mara admitted entering each bank and providing a bank teller with a note announcing a robbery and demanding various sums of money.

After each robbery, Mara would retrieve the demand note and exit the bank quietly, authorities said. He admitted netting a total of $83,868 in cash in the robberies.

Sen. McCain Opposes Torture; Says Waterboarding Did Not Lead to bin Laden Courier

John McCain/gov photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Sen. John McCain (R-Az) wrote Thursday in a Op-Ed piece in the Washington Post that he opposed torture, and said it just isn’t true that waterboarding lead authorities to the trusted courier of the Osama bin Laden.

“Much of this debate is a definitional one: whether any or all of these methods constitute torture. I believe some of them do, especially waterboarding, which is a mock execution and thus an exquisite form of torture. As such, they are prohibited by American laws and values, and I oppose them.

As for the courier, he stated:

“Former attorney general Michael Mukasey recently claimed that ‘the intelligence that led to bin Laden . . . began with a disclosure from Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who broke like a dam under the pressure of harsh interrogation techniques that included waterboarding. He loosed a torrent of information — including eventually the nickname of a trusted courier of bin Laden.’” That is false.”

“I asked CIA Director Leon Panetta for the facts, and he told me the following: The trail to bin Laden did not begin with a disclosure from Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times. The first mention of Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti — the nickname of the al-Qaeda courier who ultimately led us to bin Laden — as well as a description of him as an important member of al-Qaeda, came from a detainee held in another country, who we believe was not tortured. None of the three detainees who were waterboarded provided Abu Ahmed’s real name, his whereabouts or an accurate description of his role in al-Qaeda.”

He also stated that he was against anyone being prosecuted for using any of the methods he opposes.

To read full column click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Breaking News: Chief of Hedge Fund Guilty in Historical Insider Trading Case

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Following an eight week trial, a Manhattan federal jury Wednesday morning convicted Raj Rajaratnam on 14 counts of conspiracy and securities fraud crimes stemming from his role in the largest hedge fund insider trading scheme in history, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.

Rajartnam, just another symbol of much what is wrong in the investment world, was managing member of GalleonManagement, LLC (“Galleon”), the General Partner of Galleon Management, L.P., and a portfolio manager for Galleon Technology Offshore, Ltd., and certain accounts of Galleon Diversified Fund, Ltd.Manhattan.

“Rajaratnam, once a high-flying billionaire and hedge fund manager, is now a convicted felon, 14 times over. Rajaratnam was among the best and the brightest – one of the most educated, successful and privileged professionals in the country,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.

“Yet like so many others recently, he let greed and corruption cause his undoing. The message today is clear — there are rules and there are laws, and they apply to everyone, no matter who you are or how much money you have.

“Unlawful insider trading should be offensive to everyone who believes in, and relies on, the market. It cheats the ordinary investor, victimizes the companies whose information is stolen, and is an affront not only to the fairness of the market, but the rule of law.

“In just over 18 months, this office has charged 47 individuals with insider trading crimes; Rajaratnam is the 35th person to be convicted. We will continue to pursue and prosecute those who believe they are both above the law and too smart to get caught.”

For more read NY Times story