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Archive for August, 2011

FBI Launches New Site to Show Agency Changes Since Sept. 11 Attacks

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has changed dramatically since the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, with a heavy emphasis on counterterrorism.

Not all the agents have liked the change, but it’s a reality that was brought about by the attacks and pressure from the public and Capitol Hill.

To chronicle that change, the FBI has developed a new website “Ten Years After: The FBI Since 9/11.”

The top of the new FBI page begins:

“By all accounts, the morning of September 11, 2001 was a pivotal point in American history—and for the FBI.

“The ensuing investigation was the most massive in the history of the Bureau. The attacks led to far-reaching changes in the organization, which quickly made prevention of terrorist strikes its overriding priority and deliberately set out to be more predictive and intelligence-driven in addressing all major national security and criminal threats.

“Here you can find a range of materials on both the 9/11 investigation and how the FBI has changed in the past decade. We will be adding more information in the weeks to come.

To see the site click here.

Ala. Fed Prosecutors to Get 2nd Bite Out of Apple in Corruption Case

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The feds in Alabama will get a second bite out of the apple after their high-profile gambling corruption case imploded last week.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson set a retrial date of Oct. 3. However, he has not yet decided whether there will be more than one trial, the Associated Press reported.

A jury voted to acquit on 91 charges and deadlocked on 33 others. None of the nine defendants were convicted, and two were completely acquitted.

The nine defendants were accused of buying and selling votes on legislation that would legalize electronic bingo games in the state, AP reported.

AP reported that the Justice Department has asked the judge to split the seven remaining defendants into three groups for retrial. The defense attorneys want one combined trial.  The judge plans to address the issue on Wednesday.

The White Powder We Fear: Packages Shut Down Alaska Congressional Offices in Fairbanks

Sen. Murkowski

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The anthrax attacks of 2001 have left the U.S. with a collective paranoia about white powder and mail.

The latest: Authorities temporarily shut the offices of three Alaska Congressional members on Monday after their Fairbanks offices received suspicious packages with white powder, Reuters news service reported.

It ended up being harmless.

Reuters reported that it ended up that a man had sent samples of concrete material to the Congressional delegation, which includes Sen. Mark Begich, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Rep. Don Young.

After the anthrax attacks, which killed five people and sickened 17, the U.S. Postal service installed sensors to detect anthrax in mail processed through postal facilities around the country.

No anthrax has been detected in the mail since the 2001 attacks, but there have been endless false alarms that have shut down buildings and resulted in people being decontaminated for safe measure.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

John Giacalone Named Head of N.Y. FBI Counterterrorism Division

John Giacalone/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Agent John Giacalone is leaving the mothership at headquarters in D.C. and heading north to become special agent in charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office Counterterrorism Division.

Giacalone most recently served as the section chief of the Counterterrorism Division’s Domestic Terrorism Strategic Operations Section at FBI headquarters.

Giacalone is no stranger to New York.

In 1991, he was the case agent for an investigation into organized crime’s control of the airfreight industry at John F. Kennedy International Airport. That resulted in the indictment and conviction of seven members and associates of the Luchese crime family.

In 1994, Giacalone formed a task force consisting of FBI, Department of Labor and New York Police Department to investigate the Garment Center. The probe reuslted in the convictions of 15 organized crime members and associates, the FBI said.

In 2003, Giacalone created the Field Intelligence Group in Philadelphia. And in 2005, he was the deputy on-scene-commander in the Iraqi theater of operations.

There he coordinated the efforts of the FBI, the intelligence community, and the U.S. military, which resulted in the rescue of kidnapping victim Roy Hallums.

In 2008, Giacalone was a member of the Attorney General Guidelines Task Force. With the assistance of 10 supervisory special agents, he helped draft the FBI’s new domestic investigative policy.

Ala. Newspaper Editorial Calls Fed Prosecution in Ala. Incompetent

By The Daily Home
Editorial

Rather than settle any questions of guilt or innocence, the acquittals and mistrials returned last week in Alabama’s gambling corruption trial have only exacerbated mistrust of state government and the legal system.

What are we to make of a trial that charged nine people, including four state legislators, with 125 crimes, took 10 weeks of court time after months of FBI investigation, cost an untold amount of money and produced not a single conviction?

Given that three of the original defendants pleaded guilty and testified against the nine who were tried, one word comes to mind: incompetence.

Incompetence in the investigation that produced such flimsy evidence that federal prosecutors could not put together a convincing case against any of the accused, or incompetence in the prosecutors who bungled their presentation of the evidence available to them. Maybe both.

To read more click here.

Ouch! Feds Comes Up Empty in Big Ala. Gambling Trial (ticklethewire.com)

Man Arrested for Planting Bomb Under Gas Pipeline in Oklahoma

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Federal authorities say a man arrested Friday for planting an improvised explosive device under a gas pipeline in Oklahoma wasn’t connected to a terrorist group and was not a disgruntled worker, according to CNN.

Daniel Wells Herriman, 40, was arrested Seminole County, Ok. Two employees of Enerfin Resources spotted the device and called authorities, CNN reported.

A criminal complaint stated that Herriman called the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office 911 line to turn himself in and said: “I set the bomb under the pipeline in Okemah.”

Herriman allegedly told investigators he set the bomb tot go off in the middle of the night, but it failed to detonate. No motive was mentioned in the criminal complaint.

Dead End? U.S. Authorities Push Probe into Murdoch’s Reporters

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

U.S. authorities have expanded their probe into Rupert Murdoch’s  News Corps phone hacking allegations, but so far have come up with no hard evidence of wrongdoing, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Reporters Cassell Bryan-Low and Devlin Barrett reports that U.S. investigators so far have found nothing concrete to back allegations written in a London paper saying reporters at the now-closed Brit paper News of the World might have hacked phones of 9/11 victims.

The Journal reported that British police investigating the scandal have told the FBI their probe has come up with no names or numbers of the Sept. 11 victims.

“The new, broader inquiry remains at an early stage and may prove a dead end, people familiar with the case say,” the Journal reported.

FBI Report Show Mortgage Fraud on the Rise

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

An FBI report shows that mortgage fraud appears to be on the rise.

The FBI said it had 3,129 pending mortgage fraud investigations in 2010, up 12 percent from 2009 and up 90 percent from 2008 when the economy tanked and the real estate market was already in dire straights.

The FBI said 71 percent of the pending mortgage fraud investigations in 2010 involved losses of more than $1 million.

“Mortgage fraud continued at elevated levels in 2010, consistent with levels seen in 2009, the report said. “Mortgage fraud schemes are particularly resilient, and they readily adapt to economic changes and modifications in lending practices.”

The report said the top states for known or suspected mortgage fraud included California, Florida, New York, Illinois, Nevada, Arizona, Michigan, Texas, Georgia, Maryland and New Jersey.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST