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Archive for July, 2011

Could Dept. of Homeland Security Be Buying $300 Mil in Worthless Radiation Detectors?

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Here’s a case where the intent may be good, but the execution could be costly and worthless.

According to the The Washington Post, an unreleased Government Accountability Office report shows that the Department of Homeland Security plans to spend more than $300 million over the next four years on radiation-detection equipment that hasn’t been fully tested and may not work.

The Post reported that in January the National Academy of Sciences reported that it wasn’t possible to know whether the machines,ASPs, worked.

To read the full story click here.

Families of Whitey Bulger’s Victims Speak Out

Michigan Prof Sues FBI and CIA; Claims Bush White House Tried to Smear Reputation

Prof. Juan Cole

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

University of Michigan History Professor Juan Cole wants to take a peak at CIA and FBI files — and for pretty good reason.

Last month, according to the New York Times, former CIA official Glenn Carle said the Bush White House wanted to smear Cole’s reputation and discredit him because he was critical of the administration’s Middle East policies. Cole, who lives in Ann Arbor, writes a blog on Middle East issues.

The CIA’s Carle, according to the Times, said his supervisor asked him: “Does he (Cole) drink? What are his views? Is he married?” And, “What do you think we might know about him, or could find out, that could discredit him?”

Cole asked the CIA and the FBI to look at any of his files, but never got a response, according to the Detroit Free Press.

So on Wednesday, Cole and the American Civil Liberties Union and a University of Michigan professor filed a lawsuit in Detroit federal court,  asking that he see any files relating to any alleged scheme to discredit him, the Free Press reported.

“In a democratic society, the secret police should not be spying on citizens for simply criticizing government policy,” said Michael Steinberg, legal director of the Michigan branch of the ACLU, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The Free Press reported that the FBI could not be reached for comment and  CIA spokesman Preston Golson said: “The CIA does not, as a rule, comment on pending litigation.”

Republicans Want More Documents in ATF’s Fast and Furious: Think Scandal Reaches in Highest Levels of Justice Dept.

atf file photo

By Richard A. Serrano
Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON — Believing that the Operation Fast and Furious scandal reaches into the highest levels of the Justice Department, congressional Republicans asked the attorney general’s office to turn over a sweeping trove of emails, documents and other material to determine Washington’s role in the “reckless” operation that allowed U.S. semiautomatic weapons to flow to Mexican drug cartels.

“As our investigation into Operation Fast and Furious has progressed, we have learned that senior officials at the Department of Justice, including Senate-confirmed political appointees, were unquestionably aware of the implementation of this reckless program,” they said in a letter to Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. made public Tuesday. “Therefore, it is necessary to review communications between and among these senior officials.”

The investigation is led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The request for carte blanche access to “emails, memoranda, briefing papers and handwritten notes” could spark a political and legal fight over what, if anything, will be turned over.

To read more click here.

Fed Grand Jury Looking at CIA Agent Linked to Abu Ghraib

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A federal grand jury in Virginia has been looking at a CIA officer who oversaw the agency’s interrogation program at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the Associated Press reported.

AP reported that Steve Stormoen, who is now retired, pushed for increasingly harsh tactics.

AP reported that he supervised an unofficial program that involved the CIA interrogating men, whose names were not entered into Army books.

AP reported that the so-called “ghosting” program was not sanctioned by CIA headquarters.

To read full story click here.

People Keep Sending Fake Anthrax Letters; Man Pleads Guilty in Ala.

Sen. Shelby received fake anthrax letter

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Not since the Fall of 2001 has anyone sent real anthrax through the mail.

After the 2001 attacks, the Postal Service set up a system that is supposed to detect dangerous biological agents like anthrax that come through the mail processing centers.

That being said, there are folks like Clifton Lamar Dodd, 39, of Lincoln, Ala., who insist on sending fake anthrax through the mail.

Dodd pleaded guilty Tuesday in Birmingham, Ala., to sending a series of hoax anthrax letters last year to officials including Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) on March 8, 2010.

Other recipients of the white-powder letters included Alabama Sen. Jim Preuitt of Talladega, two Talladega County state court judges, Talladega County Sheriff Jerry Studdard, several Talladega County Jail inmates who were in the jail at the same time as Dodd, and police investigators from both the Lincoln and Oxford police departments who previously had interviewed Dodd, authorities said.

Report on Airport Security Breach is Cause for Heartburn

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The stats for our nation’s airport should be cause for major heartburn.

USA Today reports that more than 25,000 security breaches — an average of about seven per day — have occurred at U.S. airports since November 2001.

Citing newly released Department of Homeland Security documents, USA Today reported that more than 14,000 people entered “limited-access” areas by going through airport doors or passageways without permission.

Other breaches included unauthorized people going from airport buildings to planes.

The documents are to be presented at a House subcommittee hearing Wednesday, the paper reported.

“It’s clear the airports are not secure,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations said, according to USA Today. “For all the money, time and persistence we have thrown at airport security, it’s a real mess.”

Agencies Like FBI, DEA, ICE Increasingly Asking For Facebook Info

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

High school buddies and colleagues aren’t the only ones who seem to have an interest in Facebook.

Reuters reports that U.S. law enforcement agencies are increasingly obtaining warrants to search Facebook, and usually the users doesn’t know.

A Reuters review of the Westlaw legal database shows that since 2008, federal judges have authorized at least two dozen warrants to search individuals’ Facebook accounts for agencies including the FBI, DEA and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Reuters reported that “many of the warrants requested a laundry list of personal data such as messages, status updates, links to videos and photographs, calendars of future and past events, ‘Wall postings’ and ‘rejected Friend requests.'”

Reuters said the search warrants often ask for detailed packages of profiles and photos not even available to the user.

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