Links

Columnists



Site Search


Entire (RSS)
Comments (RSS)

Archive Calendar

June 2011
S M T W T F S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930  

Guides

How to Become a Bounty Hunter



Archive for June, 2011

Rep. Issa Pushes for ATF Chief Melson to Step Down; Likely to Happen Anyways

Rep. Issa/gov photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Rep. Darrell Issa on Tuesday told Fox News that acting ATF director Ken Melson should resign — something that’s likely to happen anyways.

Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, called Melson “part of the bad judgment” that led to the disastrous and ill thought out program “Operation Fast and Furious.” The program encouraged gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers — all with the hope of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels.

Melson is expected to step down this week and be replaced by Andrew Traver. Traver would likely become acting director pending the outcome of his presidential nomination for the post.

His nomination has already run into problems in the Senate after the NRA came after Traver, the head of the Chicago ATF office. The NRA claims he’s anti-gun owner rights.

Issa also told Fox others should take the blame as well.

“It wasn’t just him,” he said. “This was a program so stupid from the start. … Clearly at Justice, at high levels, they knew the details because they were funding and coordinating this project.”

He said Atty. Gen. Eric Holder “should have known. It was his obligation to know.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Ia.) released a letter Tuesday that he wrote to Melson complaining that ATF inaccurately reflected the scope and source of the problem of firearms in Mexico and the drug trafficking organization violence.

The letter is as follows:

Kenneth Melson
Acting Director
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, & Explosives
U.S. Department of Justice
99 New York Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20226

Dear Acting Director Melson:

I write today in response to a June 10, 2011, article in The Wall Street Journal titled, “Mexican Guns Tied to U.S.”, which cites a letter you sent to Senator Diane Feinstein, the Chairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control (“Caucus”).

As the Co-Chairman of the Caucus, and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary (“Committee”), I have been investigating serious allegations raised by whistleblowers within the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) that agents knowingly allowed weapons to be sold to straw purchasers who then transferred those weapons to Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations (“DTOs”).

Read more »

Column: Traver Likely to Become Acting Chief of ATF; Not Likely to Get Confirmed

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Andrew Traver, the man the White House nominated last November to head up ATF,  is in Washington Tuesday to speak to Attorney General Eric Holder Jr.

His arrival comes in the midst of a major controversy — or screw up as some might say — involving ATF’s “Operation Fast and Furious”, which encouraged gun dealers to sell to “straw purchasers” — all with the hopes of tracing the guns to the Mexican cartels.

What’s expected to happen is that Traver, who heads up the Chicago ATF office,  will be appointed acting director of ATF, replacing the acting head Kenneth Melson, who will likely be pressured to resign.

After that, what’s also likely to happen is that Traver will never be confirmed. I could be wrong. But the NRA has launched an aggressive campaign to block his confirmation, claiming he’s very anti-gun rights. The confirmation has been stalled in the Senate.

The Obama White House doesn’t seem to have the appetite for a fight like that. And it’s  not likely to want to spend it’s political capital on Traver — at least not until the 2012 election is over.

So Traver will remain acting chief, certainly past the election. Should Obama win re-election, then he might go for a recess appointment, or just let Traver remain as acting.  Or maybe he’ll find someone who is more acceptable to the NRA, though I think that’s not likely — not if you’re looking for someone to aggressively enforce gun laws.

Unfortunately, acting directors never have the same clout,the same sway as a permanent director.   And just  in case they still have a shot at confirmation, they have to be extra careful as to what they say or what initiatives they launch or who they appoint to executive spots. They can become overly cautious. That can be very stifling and bad for the agency.

But politically, they never want to give Congress ammunition to sabotage the confirmation.

As for Meslon. Well, he was decent guy and a smart one at that. But agents thought the ex-federal prosecutor didn’t really understand the agency culture and the agents’ mindset.

As one veteran ATF agent told me: “A lot of guys thought he wasn’t the best fit. He was a nice man, but at times he could be arrogant. I don’t think he intended to come across that way. I kind of feel sorry for him.”

FBI Building in Miss. Named After Slain Civil Rights Workers and FBI Agent Who Investigated Case

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI building in Jackson, Miss.,officially has a pretty long name.

The building this week is being named after three civil rights workers killed by Klansmen 47 years ago, as well as the FBI agent who headed the probe, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported.

The paper reported that the James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, and Roy K. Moore Federal Building is located at 1220 Echelon Parkway in Jackson. Roy K. Moore is the FBI agent.

“We pushed for the naming because … (of) the history of our state during that time, the fact that these three young men gave their lives and the FBI helped find them and did so much background work for any convictions associated with them,” U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said, according to the paper. “This is part of the healing process.”

The three civil rights workers were killed June 21, 1964.

Feds Try to Block Mongols Motorcycle Gang From Using its Trademarked Logo or Name

atf photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The feds in L.A. are taking a novel approach to battling the violent Mongols motorcycle gang.

Prosecutors on Monday asked U.S. District Judge Otis Wright to block members of the gang from using its trademarked logo or using its name, the Los Angeles Times reported. A ruling in the government’s favor would make it the owner of the logo and name.

The paper reported that it was the first time the federal government has sought to control a gang’s identity through a court order.

The Times reported that the U.S. attorney’s office said the insignia — a pony-tailed man riding a chopper — is “very, very closely identified with the organization.” It said the office feels the move would further prevent the Mongols from operating.

“This patch is a central element of the identity of the gang. We’re trying to dismantle a criminal organization, and we’re trying to use whatever tools we can to do it,” Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, said, according to the LA Times. “In this case it shows our determination to go after this organization as a whole — top to bottom leadership — and after the proceeds of criminal activity.”

While heading the gang, Ruben “Doc” Cavazos registered and trademarked the Mongols logo, Mrozek said.

An attorney for the Mongols told the Times that the government can’t legally do this.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

ATF Head Ken Melson Expected to Resign Under Pressure in Coming Days

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Kenneth Melson, acting head of ATF, is expected to resign under pressure in coming days, CNN reported.

At the same time, Andrew Traver, head of the Chicago ATF, who has been nominated by the White House to take over on a permanent basis, is set to meet Tuesday with Attorney Gen. Eric Holder Jr.  to talk about possibly stepping in as acting director pending the outcome of his confirmation process , according to media reports. The Wall Street Journal  had reported in recent days that the White House was expected to remove Melson.

The anticpacted resignation comes in the midst of what has turned into an ugly controversy over Operation Fast and Furious, the program that encouraged gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers, all the with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartesl. Guns from the program have been linked to the death of border patrol agent Brian Terry.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who has led the charge, along with Sen. Chuck Grassleyd (R-Ia.), against the program, said at a hearing last week that Melson was “deep in the weeds” with the program and was regularly monitoring it.

FBI Starts Unique Campaign; Running Ads About Top 10 Fugitive Whitey Bulger’s Girlfriend

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI isn’t giving up on finding the ever-elusive Top 10 fugitive, Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger, who is wanted for 19 murders.

The latest: the FBI is launching what it calls a “unique new publicity campaign” by focusing on Catherine Elizabeth Greig, the longtime girlfriend of Bulger. She has not been charged in his crimes, but is a federal fugitive wanted for harboring Bulger.

The campaign includes a 30-second, FBI- produced  public service announcement (PSA) that will begin airing Tuesday on  TV stations around the country. The announcement will hone in on  Greig’s relationship with Bulger and her physical characteristics.

The FBI said it purchased about 350 time slots in media markets in 14 cities in 10 states. The cities are Albuquerque, Biloxi, MS; Boston, Chicago,Ft. Myers, Miami, Milwaukee, Mobile, AL; New Orleans, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Tampa, and Tucson.

“The FBI believes that publicizing Catherine Grieg’s photo and characteristics among her contemporaries will lead to a tip about her whereabouts and, ultimately, to the arrest of Bulger,”  Richard DesLauriers, head of the  Boston Division, said in a statement.

The FBI said the PSA  announcement will air during shows that have a high percentage of female viewers in the same age group as 60-year-old Greig.

The FBI said it homes someone in that audience — a friend, co-worker, neighbor, hair stylist, manicurist, doctor or dentist —  might recognize Greig.

“In terms of publicity, for 100 years the FBI has known that combining the reach and power of the media with alert citizens is a successful formula for catching fugitives,”  FBI  Supervisory Special Agent Richard Teahan, who leads the Boston FBI task force searching for Bulger, said in a statement.  “So we’re taking the next logical step and focusing on Greig as part of a unique initiative.”

The PSA points out that there is more than 21-year age difference between Greig and Bulger, who is 81.

The FBI said some tibits about her include: she loves dogs and all kinds of animals; she is likely to have well-kept teeth because she previously worked as a dental hygienist; she likes to frequent beauty salons and prior to fleeing with Bulger in 1995, she had multiple plastic surgeries.

Authorities said she has blue eyes, is 5 feet 6 inches tall, and had a thin build when she fled.

She is known to go by the aliases Helen Marshal and Carol Shapeton.

The FBI said the last credible sighting of the couple was in London in 2002.

The FBI is offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to her capture and $2 million for Bulger’s arrest.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHksLNSM9HI&feature=player_embedded#at=11

Washington Examiner Editorial: Don’t Make ATF’s Chief Ken Melson a Scapegoat in Operation Fast and Furious

Ken Melson/atf photo

By The Washington Examiner
Editorial Page

WASHINGTON — Credible media reports have it that Kenneth Melson, acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, will get his walking papers this week as a result of his approval of Operation Fast and Furious, aka “Gunwalker.”

That’s the program in which ATF purposely allowed as many as 2,000 lethal weapons, including assault rifles such as the infamous AK-47, to be sold to representatives of Mexican drug cartels. The idea was that ATF would be able to link the weapons to specific individuals and prosecute them after the firearms were recovered at crime scenes in Mexico and the U.S. Melson and other senior ATF officials enthusiastically backed Gunwalker, which originated in the agency’s Phoenix office.

The ludicrous logic behind Gunwalker was exposed in December when a U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed in a confrontation with drug cartel thugs about 18 miles inside the U.S. border with Mexico in the Arizona desert. Two Gunwalker assault rifles were recovered from the scene in which Agent Brian Terry, an ex-Marine with a wife and children, died in the shootout. At least 150 Mexican law enforcement officers and an unknown number of cartel figures and civilians have also been killed with Gunwalker weapons. What ATF officials thought would become a key tool in bringing down the Mexican cartels instead, and predictably, became a U.S. government-sanctioned gun-running operation that bought enough high-powered weapons to equip hundreds of remorseless killers operating on both sides of the border.

That Melson should be removed is obvious, as should other senior ATF officials in Washington and in the field. But Gunwalker could not have gone as far as it did without the approval of senior Justice Department officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder, which is why The Washington Examiner last week called for Holder’s resignation.

To read more click here.

Ex-FBI Agent Says Defense Attys Accused Him of Writing Fiction in Affidavits: Now He’s Writing Fiction Books

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ex-FBI agent turned author Bob Hammer explains why he turned to writing.

“In the original Rocky movie Rocky tells Adrian he boxes because he can’t sing or dance. I can identify,” Hammer wrote in a column posted on the website Big Hollywood.

“After twenty-six years as an FBI agent, I now write because I can’t sing or dance. Throughout my career, criminal defense attorneys accused me of being a great fiction writer, referring to the affidavits I filed against their clients. In retirement, I thought I’d put those so-called fiction writing skills to good use.

Hammer has just published his second novel, “Targets Down“, part of an ongoing sequel about an undercover FBI agent named Matt Hogan.

“Much of my career was spent undercover so it makes sense Matt Hogan, my alter-ego, would be an undercover FBI agent…only younger, better looking, and with more hair than I have.

“Although fiction, I want to give the reader a realistic look at the FBI and what undercover work really entails. Hollywood seldom gets it right and too often our perception is only what we see on the big screen.”

To read more click here.