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Archive for May, 2011

Senate Report Urges Obama Administration to Do More to Fight Mexican Cartels

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A just-released Senate report on Mexico drug trafficking urges  judicial and police reforms in Mexico and calls for the Obama Administration to provide more resources to its southern neighbor and  to do more to starve Mexico’s drug trafficking organizations of the money that fuels them.

The  report, issued by The U.S. Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control,  also recommends that the   Obama Administration take immediate steps to make pre-paid gift and credit cards – known as stored value – subject to cross-border reporting requirements.

The cards are currently not subject to any cross-border reporting requirements, which allows dirty money to cross the border unchecked.

The report also urges the State Department to expedite the delivery of  resources and develop performance measures for delivering equipment and implementing  judicial and police reform.

The U.S. government has  provided Mexico with 11 helicopters – eight Bell 412 helicopters for the Mexican military and three Blackhawk helicopters for the country’s federal police.  Six more Blackhawk helicopters are still in the pipeline, authorities said.

“The United States provides counternarcotics assistance throughout the world,” the report said. “But, our security partnership with Mexico is unique. We share a 1,969 mile border. What happens in Mexico has a deep impact on the United States and the reciprocal is also true.

“The Mexican government must continue to combat its country’s violent drug trafficking organizations and curb the supply of illicit drugs flowing into our country. It also must take action to better secure its northern border as well as its southern border with Central America to prevent illegal narcotics, weapons, and illicit proceeds from entering the country.

“At the same time, the U.S. must take action to better counter the southbound traffic of money and firearms that fuel the drug trafficking organizations, while also working to reduce our country’s massive demand for illegal narcotics.”

The Senate caucus is co-chaired by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ia.).

To read full report click here.

Distrust Mounts Between DEA and Colo. Sheriff in Aspen

Sheriff DiSalvo/sheriff photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

In Aspen, Colo., the scenic skiing area and playground for the rich, all is not well between the DEA  and the local sheriff.

The Aspen Times reports that the strain and distrust between the DEA and the Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo of Aspen was addressed in a private meeting Wednesday “with little headway being made.”

“A special agent with the DEA, along with DiSalvo and Aspen Police Chief Richard Pryor, said they failed to find any common ground, other than re-affirming that their long-standing drug-enforcement philosophies are starkly opposed,” the paper reported. “In other words, the next time the DEA penetrates Pitkin County to make an arrest, the Sheriff’s Office likely won’t be called on to help because the federal agency doesn’t trust it.”

“What it comes down to at this moment is that if the DEA comes to Aspen, they would not notify the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, but they might notify the Aspen Police Department,” DiSalvo told the paper.  “That’s a bridge we’re trying to build so in the future they will notify us so we can help them make their operation successful by our community standards.”

DEA agent Jim Schrant said it comes down to the  DEA’s lack of trust of  the sheriff’s office.

The mistrust heightened last week after the DEA arrest of  of six Aspen-area residents on drug charges. The DEA told the media that local officials weren’t notified of the drug sweep because the  former Sheriff Bob Braudis and DiSalvo have close ties to the suspects.

“Oftentimes we work with other jurisdictions and we’ve actually integrated them into our investigations because usually there’s a local narcotics task force that we’re working with hand-in-hand from the inception of the case,” DEA agent Schrant told the paper. “Unfortunately, that does not exist in the city of Aspen or Pitkin County.”

DiSalvo did not comment on the alleged ties to the suspects. He told the paper:

“There still seems to be a trust issue that I’m working on with the DEA. Those trust issues still exist. I think those trust issues around the acquaintances or people I know or see — I’m not as close with them as they think I am.”

Ex-Sheriff Braudis commented to the paper about DiSalvo.

“Despite what a member of the national police force, the DEA, said about Joe DiSalvo, he is as pure as the driven snow. I’m proud of him and the community should be, too.”

Rep. Nadler Criticizes FBI in Letter to Director Mueller Over Anthrax Probe

Rep. Nadler/gov photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The top Democrat on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution fired off a letter Wednesday to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller accusing the agency of providing “incomplete and misleading” information on the 2001 anthrax attacks to the committee.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) letter focuses on the amount of “silicon” that was contained in the deadly anthrax letters. He asks that the FBI forward any information that could shed light on the subject.

The FBI told the ticklethewire.com on Thursday  that the bureau “received the letter yesterday and we  will respond directly to Congressman Nadler.”

The following is the letter:

May 25, 2011
The Honorable Robert S. Mueller, III
Director
Federal Bureau of Investigation
J. Edgar Hoover Building
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20535-0001

Dear Director Mueller:

I am writing with respect to the investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) into the 2001 anthrax attacks and information provided by the Department of Justice (DOJ)/FBI to me about that case, which appears to have been incomplete and misleading.

On September 16, 2008, the House Committee on the Judiciary, on which I sit, conducted an oversight hearing of the FBI at which you testified. At that hearing, I asked you the following: “[W]hat was the percentage of weight of the silicon in the powders that your experts examined?” You testified that you would get back to me. On November 26, 2008, I sent to you this follow-up question in writing: “What was the percentage of weight of the silicon in the powder used in the 2001 anthrax attacks?”

On April 17, 2009, then-Acting Assistant Attorney General M. Faith Burton, of the DOJ Office of Legislative Affairs, responded with the following answer:

FBI Laboratory results indicated that the spore powder on the Leahy letter contained 14,470 ppm of silicon (1.4%). The spore powder on the New York Post letter was found to have silicon present in the sample; however, due to the limited amount of material, a reliable quantitative measurement was not possible. Insufficient quantifies of spore powder on both the Daschle and Brokaw letters precluded analysis of those samples.

Read more »

Judge Rules Az. Shooter Jared Loughner Incompetent; Loughner Has Outburst in Court

Jared Loughner/pima county sheriff photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

In a ruling that comes as little surprise, a federal judge on Wednesday in Arizona ruled that Jared L. Loughner, who killed 6 and wounded 13 others including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, is not mentally competent to stand trial, the New York Times reported.

U.S. District Judge  Larry A. Burns of  Tucson ruled that Loughner will be sent to a psychiatric facility until Sept. 21. At that point,  a hearing will be held to revisit his competency,   the New York Times reported.

If his status remains the same, he’ll be periodically re-evaluated.

“At the present time, Mr. Loughner does not have a rational understanding of these proceedings,” Judge Burns said, according to the Times.

The Times reported that the judge issued the ruling minutes after Loughner, 22, was dragged out of the courtroom. At one point he shouted, according to the Times:

“Thank you for the freak show. She died right in front of me. You’re treasonous.”

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Rahm Emanuel and Jesse Jackson Jr. Make Cameo Appearances in Blago Trial

Rahm Emanuel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Newly minted Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made a cameo appearance Thursday  in the Rod Blagojevich public corruption retrial in downtown Chicago that lasted only a few  minutes, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Under questioning by defense attorney Sheldon Sorosky, Emanuel was asked his occupation, according to the Trib.

“Mayor of the City of Chicago,” Emanuel said.

“Is it safe to say it is a new job for you?” Sorosky asked.

“Unless your subscription to the newspaper ended recently, yes,” Emanuel said.

Under questioning, Emanuel denied that  he was ever asked as a Congressman to have his brother arrange a fundraiser for Blago, in exchange for the release of a $2 million grant to a school in Emanuel’s congressional district, the Trib reported.

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr./campaign photo

He also denied that he was ever asked to set up  a nonprofit that would be headed up by  Blagojevich in exchange that Blago appoint Obama’s  friend Valerie Jarrett to the U.S. Senate, the Tribune reported.

Rep. Jackson denied allegations that he wanted to give Blago a $1.5 million campaign contribution in exchange for getting the Senate seat vacated by President Obama, the Trib reported.

Jackson testified that he had waged a very public campaign to get the appointment.

“I talked with all sorts of people about the United States Senate seat,” Jackson said, according to the Trib.

Justice Dept. Gives Green Light to Indict John Edwards, NBC Reports

John Edwards

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Once a presidential hopeful, John Edwards now faces far less hopeful times.

NBC News reports that the Justice Department has given the OK to file charges against Edwards, 57,  for alleged violations of  campaign finance laws stemming from a cover up of an extra-marital affair with Rielle Hunter.

NBC reported that a plea bargain is possible.

A federal grand jury in North Carolina is looking into the case.

Edwards ran as vice president in 2004 and also campaigned for president in 2004 and 2008.

Mobster Plotted to Kill Fed Prosecutor in NY, Witness Testifies

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Former boss of the Bonanno crime family Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano plotted to kill a mob-busting federal prosecutor at an upper East Side Italian restaurant over an issue of disrespect, a government witness testified Tuesday in federal court in New York, the New York Daily News reported.

Ex-mobster Dominick Cicale testified that Basciano planned to kill Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Andres at Campagnola, an upper East Side Italian restaurant, the Daily News reported.

The testimony came during the death penalty phase for Basciano, who was convicted last week for ordering a hit on a mobster.

Cicale testified that a private eye passed on a message to  Basciano in the spring of 2004 from then-Bonanno boss Joseph Massino, who was in prison.

“Joe Massino wanted to let Vinny know the prosecutor was disrespectful … and the prosecutor ate at Campagnola’s every Thursday night,” Cicale testified, according to the Daily News.

Basciano was waiting for the OK to execute the prosecutor, but nothing ever happened, the Daily News reported.

FBI Says Corrupt U.S. Border Agents a Serious Threat