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Archive for June, 2011

Atty. Gen. Holder Proposes Retroactive Breaks in Crack Cocaine Convictions

file photo/doj

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr.  on Wednesday  revisited a controversial subject Congress remedied last year by changing the disproportionate sentences between powdered cocaine and crack cocaine. Lawmakers stopped short of making the law retroactive.

Enter Holder.

Holder appeared before the U.S. Sentencing Commission and urged that the law be made retroactive. He did not advocate retroactivity for those whose crimes involved guns or who have long rap sheets.

The Los Angeles Times reported that thousands of federal prisoners could have an average of three years shaved off their prison terms under Holder’s proposal.

Congress last year changed the law , which critics say unfairly targeted African Americans. Under the 1986 law, a person selling crack got the same sentence as someone selling 100 times the amount of powdered cocaine. The ratio was changed to 18 to 1.

The LA Times reported that Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said he was “disappointed by the Obama administration’s position” on early releases for drug offenders and might move for Congressional action if the U.S. Sentencing Commission makes the change.

“It shows they are more concerned with the well-being of criminals than with the safety of our communities.”

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) called it a “bad idea.”

“There is simply no just or logical reason why their punishments should be dramatically more severe than those of other cocaine offenders,” Holder testified.

“As a federal prosecutor and as Attorney General – and as a former judge, United States Attorney, and Deputy Attorney General – this issue is deeply personal to me,” Holder said.

“While serving on the bench, here in Washington, D.C., in the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s, I saw the devastating effects of illegal drugs on families, communities, and individual lives.

“I know what it is like to sentence young offenders to long prison terms, and I did so to protect the public from those who were serious threats and who had engaged in violence. However, throughout my tenure as this city’s U.S. Attorney, I also saw that our federal crack sentencing laws did not achieve that result.”

“Our drug laws were not perceived as fair and our law enforcement efforts suffered as a result. That is why it was a special privilege for me to stand with President Obama when he signed the Fair Sentencing Act into law. And that is why I feel compelled to be here in person today, to join my colleagues in calling for the retroactive application of the guideline amendment.”

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

SEC Lawyer Revealed Identity of FBI Informant, IG Says

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The Inspector General for the Securities and Exchange Commission discovered a big no no: A lawyer for the SEC allegedly disclosed the name of a confidential source in an FBI probe to a witness in the case, the Washington Post reported.

The Post’s David Hilzenrath reports that a SEC lawyer also disclosed that the informant was recording conversations for the government.

That information was included in a report to Congress submitted by the Inspector General.

To read the full story click here.

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Loves HBO Show “The Wire”; Urges Creators to Bring it Back

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — For realism, apparently Atty. General Eric Holder Jr. feels the acclaimed HBO show “The Wire” can’t be beat.

In fact, Holder, who is a big fan of the show that ended in 2008 after five hit seasons, wants the creators David Simons and Ed Burns to start it up again, according to the Washington Examiner.

Holder, who made the statements while standing near some cast members Tuesday at the Justice Department, thinks it’s very realistic, and therefore, a great educational tool.

The Justice Department and members of the show have joined forces to highlight the pervasive problem of drugs and how it impacts children and families.

“Having looked at those clips again, I’m reminded how great that series was,” he said, according to the Examiner. “I want to speak directly to Mr. Burns and Mr. Simon, do another season of ‘The Wire.’ … I want another season, or a movie.”

The Examiner said Holder and other government officials thinks the show accurately depicts how kids are exposed to the use, manufacture and sale of drugs. The paper reported that the Justice Department last year created an intra-agency task force to help these children, who often become victims of violence.

To read more click here.

Eastern European Mob #1 Priority for FBI in South Fla.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

South Florida isn’t just the home of  white belts, white shoes, early bird specials and transplanted New York mobsters.

The Miami Herald reports that the Eastern European mob has become a big concern for the FBI — bigger than the Italian mafia.

“Eurasian organized crime is our No. 1 priority,” FBI supervisory special agent Rick Brodsky of the Miami office told the paper.

To read the full story click here.

Confessed Terrorist Tried to Help FBI Track Down Other Terrorists; Tells of Plot to Kill CEO of Drone Manufacturer

By Sebastian Rotella
ProPublica

CHICAGO—Confessed terrorist David Coleman Headley was so eager to cooperate after his 2009 arrest that he worked with FBI agents to try to engineer the capture of a suspected mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks and proposed setting up another kingpin for a missile strike, according to testimony in federal court Tuesday.

Headley, a Pakistani-American businessman who has pleaded guilty in the Mumbai case and a plot against Denmark, testified that during two weeks of interrogation in October 2009 he worked with FBI agents to try to lure Sajid Mir, a member of the Lashkar-i-Taiba militant group and a suspected mastermind of the Mumbai attack, out of Pakistan so he could be arrested. The attempt failed, Headley testified, and Mir remains a fugitive.

Headley also offered to travel undercover to the tribal areas of Pakistan and present Ilyas Kashmiri, an al Qaeda-connected leader indicted in the Denmark plot, with an ornate sword that Headley suggested could be outfitted with a homing device to set up a U.S. missile attack, according to his testimony.

Headley revealed Tuesday that Kashmiri wanted to assassinate the chief executive officer of the Lockheed Martin Corp, which manufactures the Predator drone, as retaliation for the missile strikes that have killed scores of militants in Pakistan.

“Kashmiri was working on a plan,” Headley testified. “He said he knew people who had already done surveillance. And he asked if weapons were available in the U.S.”

Headley, who did not further describe the details of the plot, met with Kashmiri twice in Pakistan in 2009, according to his confession. Officials with the FBI and the Justice Department declined to comment on Headley’s mention of a plot targeting Lockheed CEO Robert J. Stevens. Lockheed officials also declined comment, citing a policy of not discussing specific threats against the company.

Read more »