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Archive for September, 2011

ATF Official Admits His Congressional Testimony on Fast and Furious “Lacked Clarity”

William Newell

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

ATF official William Newell, who frustrated Congressional committee members and angered fellow agents with his ambivalent and less than forthright Congressional testimony in July on the controversial Operation Fast and Furious, now admits his testimony “lacked clarity”, Fox News reports.

Newell, who headed up ATF’s Phoenix office during Operation Fast and Furious, acknowledged in a 12-page document to the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, that his testimony could have been better and offered new insight into his mistakes about the probe that encouraged gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers, all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels, Fox reported.

“After taking time to reflect and review my testimony from the hearing on July 26, 2011, I realize I could have given clearer, more complete and more direct responses to some questions,” wrote Newell, who is now stationed at ATF headquarters in Washington.

“With 20/20 hindsight, I now see that I should have conducted more frequent assessments,” Newell said in his filing. “With more regular assessments I could have articulated to my staff the need to be proactive in ascertaining the quantity of guns being purchased that we were not able to intercept.”

Newell’s less than forthright testimony angered fellow agents around the country.

A source told ticklethewire.com back in August that the Congressional committee was looking into the possibility of going after Newell for perjury after his July testimony.

To read more click here.

 

ATF to Offer 400 Early Employee Buyouts

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

In an attempt to avoid layoffs and furloughs, ATF will offer approximately 400 buyouts, reports the trade magazine Government Executive. The buyouts will be both at headquarters and field offices.

Audrey Stucko, acting director for human resources and professional development, said the move is an attempt to deal with a tight budget climate, according to Government Executive. ATF expects to get 250 to 275 employees to take the buyouts, saving the bureau between $15 million and $20 million. “Maybe we will get more; that would be a good thing,” she said.

From Government Executive:

Eligible employees have until Oct. 14 to apply for the buyouts. Those who accept the package must leave the bureau by Nov. 30. Stucko said the offers apply across ATF’s directorates but not to positions considered critical agency functions.

To read more click here.

Ex-Secret Service Agent Richard Bartee Enters Sheriff’s Race in S.C.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ex-Secret Service James Richard Bartee, Jr., who protected President George H.W. Bush, has announced that he’s running for sheriff in Oconee County, S.C. in the Republican primary, the Independent Mail reported.

The paper, which described Bartee as a “54-year-old private investigator and aikido dojo owner” quoted him as saying:

”I decided to make this race because with my background and experience I believe I’m the best candidate.”

Bartee, a Virginia native, has been living in Oconee County since 2000 after he retired from the Secret Service. He was with the agency for 25 year including time as a clerk.

 

An FBI Raid, a Suicide Kit and Egg on the Face of an Oregon Police Department

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ooops.

The oops began when the FBI in San Diego notified the Springfield, Or. cops that a man in that community had purchased a suicide kit from a 91-year-old retired science teacher in California.

The FBI had raided the California woman’s home four months ago and then started — although belatedly — notifying police departments around the country about customers who had purchased the kit, Reuters news service reported.

On Tuesday, the Oregon police department stormed the home of a customer, and busted down the door in an attempt to save the person’s life.

Well, turns out that the home belonged to a copy editor at the Register-Guard newspaper who had purchased the homemade kit for a reporter working on a story about the issue.

Reuters reported that the copy editor wasn’t home at the time and the do-it-yourself asphyxiation package purchased seven months ago was in the reporter’s desk drawer.

Reuters reported that police apologized for the intrusion. Police explained that they had knocked the down the door thinking the man might be in danger of killing himself.

“We’re going to fix the door,” Springfield police sergeant John Umenhofer said, according to Reuters. “But we always err of the side of going in, if there is a question of safety.”

Reuters reports that San Diego FBI spokesman in San Diego Darrell Foxworth conceded that there was a four month lapse between the time the FBI raided the California woman’s home and notified the Springfield, Or., department. He said it took time to review the California woman’s records and get the word to local authorities.

 

FBI Dir. Robert Mueller Meets in Pakistan With Interior Minister

Robert Mueller III/fbi file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III visited Pakistan Wednesday, the country where Osama bin Laden took refuge and was killed by the American military in May, the Associated Press reported.

The visit comes as tension mounts over the U.S. demands that Pakistan crack down on Afghan militants hiding out in Pakistan, AP reported.

AP reported that the Pakistani government confirmed that Mueller met with Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik for talks Wednesday in the capital.

AP reported that U.S. officials declined to discuss the visit.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

 

 

Ten Year Anniversary of Anthrax Attacks; Congressman Holt Still Not Satisfied With FBI Probe

Rep. Rush Holt

By Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.)
Ashbury Park Press

Ten years ago, America was a nation shaken by grief and terror. Nearly 3,000 people had perished in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and in the thwarted attack on the Capitol. Federal authorities were warning the public that additional al-Qaida “sleeper cells” still might be at large in the United States. We were living through a national nightmare.

Less than a week later, the nightmare deepened.

Sometime on Sept. 17 or Sept. 18, someone deposited five envelopes — four addressed to media outlets in New York, and one addressed to the National Enquirer in Florida — in a central New Jersey mailbox. Later, two more letters would be mailed to members of the U.S. Senate. Each contained a highly refined dry powder containing spores of Bacillus anthracis, which can cause deadly anthrax infection in humans.

Unlike the attacks of Sept. 11, which erupted over a few terrible hours, the anthrax attacks unfolded in slow motion over several weeks. First, news reports surfaced that a Florida man had died after entering the hospital with an unknown respiratory illness. Then, the public learned he had contracted anthrax, an infection that occurs naturally but has long been explored as a biological weapon.

It was possible, at first, to believe that the Florida infection was just a freak accident, much as it was possible early on Sept. 11 to believe that the first plane crash in New York was simply a catastrophic mistake.

To read the full column click here.

 

Keith L. Bennett named FBI Assist. Director of the Inspection Division

Keith L. Bennett/fbi photo

 
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Keith L. Bennett, deputy assistant director for the FBI’s Training Division, is getting a bump up to assistant director of the agency’s Inspection Division, the FBI announced Wednesday.

Bennett began his career as an FBI special agent in 1987 and was initially assigned to the Salt Lake City Division, where he investigated white-collar crime and drug violations, the FBI said.

In 1993, he headed further west to the San Diego Division.

In 1998, it was off to headquarters as a supervisory special agent who provided support to the organized crime and drug programs.

Two years later, he returned to the San Diego Division to supervise drug intelligence, counterterrorism, and alien smuggling squads. He also directed the San Diego Joint Terrorism Task Force.

While in San Diego, he served temporarily at FBI Headquarters as a team leader in the Inspection Division.

In 2005, Bennett was appointed assistant special agent in charge of the Phoenix Division.

He later went on to serve as a special assistant to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III. His duties included providing counsel on policy and administrative matters.

In 2009, he was named named special agent in charge of the Cincinnati field office.

 

Mexican Officials Upset by US Secrecy on ATF’s Fast and Furious

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Patricia Gonzalez has worked for years with US officials on combatting and prosecuting drug violence. Last fall, Gonzalez, the Mexican state of Chihuahua’s top state prosecutor, watched helplessly as the media reported on her brother Mario’s kidnapping and torture at the hands of Mexican drug cartels. Mario was forced to record a video “confession” stating that his sister was on the take.

It would be “many months later,” reports the LA Times, until Gonzalez would find out, through media reports, that the cartels that kidnapped her brother possessed AK-47 assault rifles brought to Mexico via the botched ATF program Fast and Furious.

“Months after the deadly lapses in the program were revealed in the U.S. media,” says the LA Times report, “…top Mexican officials say American authorities have still not offered them a proper accounting of what went wrong.”

The Times calls Marisela Morales a “longtime favorite of American law enforcement agents in Mexico.” Morales is Mexico’s attorney general, and to this day, she told the Times, U.S. officials have not briefed her on the operation nor offered an apology.

Morales stated in unequivocal terms that Mexican authorities would never have permitted the program. “[The Fast and Furious program] is an attack on the safety of Mexicans,” said Morales.

US concealment of the program and it’s bloody toll–at least 150 killed or wounded, according to the Times–occurred while officials spoke about growing cross-border cooperation on law enforcement, and as Mexican president Felipe Calderon complained publicly about the flow of US guns into Mexico, says the Times.

“The basic ineptitude of these officials [who ordered the Fast and Furious operation] caused the death of my brother and surely thousands more victims,” said Gonzalez.

To read more click here.