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Archive for May, 2011

Weekend Series on Crime History: J. Edgar Hoover and Communism

Dir. Robert Mueller Overcame the FBI’s Biggest Threat

By Ronald Kessler
Newsmax

For FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, the biggest threat to the bureau was a movement to do away with the FBI’s counterterrorism effort and replace it with a new terror-fighting agency similar to the British MI5.

Such an agency would have investigative powers but none of the FBI’s law enforcement powers.

Former National Security Agency director William E. Odom, a retired general, first floated the idea back in 2002. In a later Washington Post op-ed headlined “Why the FBI Can’t Be Reformed,” Odom wrote that the bureau’s shortcomings in fighting the terrorist threat were systemic.

“No one can turn a law enforcement agency into an effective intelligence agency,” he said.

To read more click here.

Fed Prosecutors: Barefoot Bandit Should Turn Over Any Profits from Book or Movie to Government

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Federal prosecutors feel the infamous “Barefoot Bandit” Colton Harris-Moore who went on a crime spree that included stealing airplanes,  shouldn’t make money off his wild story.

In papers filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle, federal prosecutors said  the government should get all proceeds made from books or movies, SeattlePI.com reported. The claim was included in a new indictment that added a new charge.

“The property forfeited includes … any and all intellectual property or other proprietary rights belonging to the defendant, based upon or pertaining to any narration, description, publication, dissemination or disclosure of information relating to” the crimes charged, prosecutors wrote, the website reported.

Harris-Moore, 20, is set to go on trial in July for a string of nationwide thefts that transpired after he escaped from a group home in April 2008,  the SeattlePI reported. He pulled off the crimes while barefoot. At least on one occasion he was naked.

Authorities claim he stole at least five planes and assaulted law enforcement officers, the website reported.

Authorities said he may end up pleading guilty, the website wrote.

To read more click here.

FBI Raids Home of 91-Year-Old Woman Who Sells Suicide Kits

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

FBI agents in San Diego raided the home of a 91-year-old woman who was peddling mail order do-it-yourself suicide kits, the station KTLA reported.

FBI agents on Wednesday raided the home of Sharlotte Hydorn, the station reported. Agents seized a computer and three boxes, a neighbor told the station.

The station reported that the kit included a plastic hood and tubing that connects to an inert gas. The gas is not supplied.

She grabbed headlines late last year  when one of her customers committed suicide. She claims the kits are for people who are terminally ill, the station reported.

Ala. U.S. Atty. Leura Canary Steps Down on Friday

U.S. Atty. Leura Canary/doj photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

U.S. Attorney Leura G. Canary of Montgomery, Ala., who was appointed by President Bush in 2001, will step down on Friday, her office announced.

Canary has served with the Justice Department since October, 1990 when she was hired as a trial attorney. In November 1994,  she became an assistant U.S. Attorney  for the Middle District of Alabama in Montgomery. She later served as a civil chief.

On Sept. 4, 2001, she was appointed interim U.S. Attorney in Montgomery. She was later nominated by President Bush and confirmed on Nov. 6, 2001.

Canary’s office convicted former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, which triggered cries from Democrats that the prosecution was political.

President Obama has nominated George Beck Jr., a white-collar defense lawyer at Capell & Howard, to step in.

Congress Passes Extensions of Key Provisions of Patriot Act; 2 Senators Question Justice Dept. Interpretation of Act


By CHARLIE SAVAGE
The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Two senators claimed on Thursday that the Justice Department had secretly interpreted the so-called Patriot Act in a twisted way, enabling domestic surveillance activities that many members of Congress do not understand.

At the same time, Congress and the White House were rushing to enact legislation to prevent a lapse in several of the federal government’s investigative powers under the Patriot Act that were set to expire at midnight.

The Senate passed the bill 72 to 23 late in the afternoon, and within hours the House approved it 250 to 153. In an unusual move, a White House spokesman said that President Obama, who was in Europe, would “direct the use” of an autopen machine to sign the bill into law without delay.

To Read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Senators Introduce Legislation to Extend FBI Dir. Mueller’s Term; Sen. Grassley Has Mixed Feelings

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

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

In an unusual sign of bipartisanship, the top Democrats and Republicans of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate Select Committee on Intelligence introduced legislation Thursday that would allow  FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III to extend his 10-year term by two years.

Top ranking senators said the bill would provide a “one time extension” and would apparently keep the 10-year term limit in place for future directors. Mueller began serving as director in 2001 and was set to step down this September. One co-sponsor of the bill, Sen. Chuck Grassely (R-Ia.),  said he had some mixed feelings given that existing legislation that limits the term to 10-years was put in place for a reason.

President Obama caught many off guard when he announced that he wanted Mueller to stay on past September. Next to J. Edgar  Hoover, Mueller is the longest serving director.

The president said he wanted it to keep some continuity. Some applauded the move. But some agents inside the bureau felt it was time for Mueller to move on.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), one of  the Senators who co-sponsored the bill to extend Mueller’s term, said in a statement :

“Bob Mueller has served tirelessly and selflessly for 10 years, and is undoubtedly ready to begin the next phase of his life.”

“But he has characteristically answered duty’s call and indicated his willingness to continue his service. We should fulfill our duty, as well, and join together without delay to secure the continuity and stability that is demanded at this time, and that is needed to keep our country safe.”

Sen. Grassley  said he favored the bill, but had some concerns.

“The ten-year term for an FBI director is good for the agency and our country. It was designed to insulate the FBI Director from the political process and ensure that no one Director amass too much power. It has worked for thirty-five years. But, we live in extraordinary times.

” Given the complex and uncertain time we live in, the good work of Director Mueller following September 11, and a heightened alert to terrorist attack following the death of Osama Bin Laden, this one-time statutory exemption that will extend the term of FBI Director Mueller’s term by two years is the right decision. I do this with trepidation, though, because of the constitutional and precedential concerns associated with this action.”

“I look forward to a hearing in the Judiciary Committee so we can address those concerns.”

It’s Showtime: Blago Takes Stand and Apologizes for Swearing on FBI Tapes

Gov Blagojevich in happier days as gov/state photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It’s finally Showtime.

Ex-Gov.  Rod Blagojevich took the stand in his own defense on Thursday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

“I used to be governor and I’m here to tell the truth,” Blagojevich said after being sworn in, the paper reported.

“In many ways, I feel very liberated — I’m ready to answer questions,” he said.

Blagojevich also took a moment to apologize for the a he spewed while being recorded by the FBI, and he said his teenage daughter told him to watch his language on the stand, the Sun-Times reported.

“When I hear myself saying that on tape, I’m an effin’ jerk, and I apologize,” he said, according to the Trib.

The Sun-Times wrote that Blagojevich “went through his own personal history — and it bordered on the absurd at times.”

To read more click here.