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Archive for September, 2011

ATF Clarifies: Medical Marijuana Users May Not Buy Guns

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Take your pick: Medical marijuana or a gun, but not both.

Responding to multiple questions from federally licensed gun sellers, the ATF wrote an open letter declaring it illegal to knowingly sell firearms to medical marijuana users.

The confusion arrises out of differing legal schemes regarding medical marijuana. Federal law prohibits selling firearms to any “unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance.” Because marijuana is a federally controlled substance, and because there are no federal exemptions for medicinal use, ATF policy is that it is illegal to sell to users of marijuana, the letter says.

“Any person who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her State has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes, is an unlawful user of or addicted to controlled substance, and is prohibited by Federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition,” the letter states.

“Our advice to FFL’s or Federal Firearm Licensees is that if you are aware that this person is a user of marijuana, then you should not go ahead with the sale of that firearm,” Brad Beyersdorf, ATF Special Agent and PIO for the Denver Field Division told KPAX, of Missoula, Mont. The Denver division covers the state of Montana as well.

You can read the letter here.

Mass. Airport Claims Secret Service Caused $676,048 Damage During Obama Visit

Pres. Obama at press conference/white house photo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The president’s entourage rolled through a small Massachusetts airport last year like an untamed rock band wreaking havoc in a hotel room, causing more than half a million dollars in damages. Or so the airport alleges.

Marlborough Airport Properties Inc. filed a suit in a U.S. district court this week against the administration, reports the Boston Business Journal. The suit claims that an agreement had been made regarding the helicopter carrying the president–that it would not damage the tarmac.

Indeed, the helicopter did not damage the tarmac, states the suit, but the 44,000 lb. ‘foam truck,’ and other ground vehicles the Secret Service drove onto the airport caused property damages of up to $676,048.13.  “Turf or grassed-in areas” also were “significantly damaged,” the suit states.

The Business Journal reports that the administration has denied requests for compensation. The airport property company is seeking a jury trial.

St. Louis DEA Fights Growing Heroin Problem

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

DEA agents, in conjunction with local police, arrested more than 50 people in the St. Louis area this week associated with a loose network of heroin trafficking.

Officials hope to double the number of arrests in a fight against a growing problem in the region. A new form of highly-potent and often lethal heroin is selling for as little as $10 a bag, the Columbus, Ind. paper The Republic reported.

“The newer heroin is so potent that some users die before they can remove the syringe from their veins,” The Republic reported. The increased purity has lured suburban and middle-class youths afraid of injecting with needles; the new form can be smoke or snorted and still effective.

“Today isn’t the silver bullet, but this is the beginning of us making our statement and pushing back,” Harry Sommers, DEA’s St. Louis agent in charge, told the Associated Press. In all, Sommers expects to make a total of 104 arrests.

To read more click here.

The Never Ending Debate Over Drug Policy; Ex-DEA Official Asa Hutchinson and Head of Drug Policy Alliance Debate

Watch the Full Debate

The quirky and highly popular blog BoingBoing.net posted the abbreviated version of  this video of Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, and Asa Hutchinson, a former DEA Administrator, about drug policy and enforcement.  The debate was  sponsored by the Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) chapter at the University of Arkansas and University Programs.

Also worth checking out is the nascent debate on the BoingBoing blog itself. BoingBoing often has a robust section of comments from their readers, and this video is sure to spark a conversation.  –Danny Fenster

Justice Dept. Fights Release of bin Laden Photos After Killing

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Sometimes curiosity just isn’t enough reason to do something.

At least that’s what the government seems to believe as it fights efforts by the group Judicial Watch, which has asked under the Freedom of Information Act for photos and videos of al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden after he was killed in May.

Politico reports that the Justice Department filed papers in federal court in Washington Monday night saying the release of the videos and photos would reveal military and intelligence secrets and could lead to violence against U.S. personnel. The CIA and the Pentagon are against releasing the materials.

The CIA has described the photos as “gruesome.”

President Obama said, according to Politico:

“It is important for us to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence. As a propaganda tool. You know, that’s not who we are. You know, we don’t trot out this stuff as trophies. We don’t need to spike the football.”

Getting Acquitted May Not Be Enough to Get Off Terrorist Watch List

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It may not be so easy to get off the terrorist watch list, the New York Times has found.

The paper reported that the FBI is allowed to include people on the list who have been acquitted of terrorism related crimes or the crimes have been dismissed.

The discovery comes after the Times obtained files released by the F.B.I. under the Freedom of Information Act.

The documents, the Times writes, “disclose how the police are instructed to react if they encounter a person on the list. They lay out, for the first time in public view, the legal standard that national security officials must meet in order to add a name to the list. And they shed new light on how names are vetted for possible removal from the list.”

The Times reported that database has about 420,000 names, including about 8,000 Americans.

To read more click here.

Sheriff Deputies Went to Home of FBI Case Agent Who Headed Sting; Sheriff Fuming Over FBI Sting

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Expect more craziness in coming days and weeks in the scandal brewing in Los Angeles where the FBI paid a sheriff’s deputy a bribe to sneak a phone into the county jail for an inmate in what turned out to be a sting.

Sheriff Lee Baca is fuming that he was not notified about the FBI probe into inmate abuse, and the fact a phone was smuggled into the jail. The sheriff is investigating the matter and had scheduled a meeting Tuesday with U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr.

Meanwhile, a source tells ticklethewire.com that two sheriff’s deputies on Monday went to the home of the FBI case agent in the probe to speak to her and indicated they have plans to arrest her. She was not arrested that night.

It’s considered a crime to sneak a phone into the jail. The sheriff’s deputy Gilbert Michel, 38,  who snuck the phone into the jail has resigned after being put on leave, the LA Times reported.  The paper reported that he has not been charged with a crime, but is the subject of an investigation by the sheriff’s department.

The paper also reported that the deputy took the $1,500 from the FBI as part of a sting and did not know that the inmate he was sneaking the phone into the jail for was actually an FBI informant.

Whether the sheriff’s department can charge the FBI’s case agent is another question.

Stay tuned.

FBI headquarters and the Justice Department are expected to take a keen interest in the matter.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

 

Senate Confirms a Whole Lot of U.S. Attorneys; 6 in One Night

John Malcolm Bales/doj photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A whole lot of U.S. Attorneys were confirmed Monday night on Capitol Hill.

The U.S. Senate confirmed six U.S. Attorneys — four in Texas, one in Oregon and one in Utah.

The Texas U.S. Attorney’s included: John Malcolm Bales for the Eastern District of Texas; Kenneth Magidson for the Southern District of Texas; Robert Lee Pitman for the Western District; Sarah Ruth Saldana for the Northern District of Texas.

The Senate also confirmed David B. Barlow for U.S. Attorney in Utah and S. Amanda Marshal for the state of Oregon.