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Archive for November, 2011

Bush to FBI Director Mueller Right After Sept. 11; What is the FBI Doing to Prevent the Next Attack?

Robert Mueller III/ photo ticklethewire.com

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

In a speech  Friday in Washington before the National Symposium for United States Court of Appeals Judges, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III shared a very interesting exchange he had with President Bush right after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

“A few days after the attacks, I was briefing President Bush in the Oval Office. As I was describing to the president the FBI’s efforts to identify the hijackers and gather evidence on those responsible, the president cut me off.

“Bob,” he said, “I expect the FBI to determine who was responsible for the attacks and to help bring them to justice. That is what the Bureau has been doing since its beginning. What I want to know from you—today—is what the FBI is doing to prevent the next attack.”

Mueller recalled: “I must say, I felt like a chastened schoolboy who had turned in the wrong homework assignment.

“And for the next four years, I briefed President Bush daily, and the question was always the same. Thereafter, I continued to regularly brief President Bush, and do so today with President Obama. And the question remains the same.

“That initial question posed by President Bush—what is the FBI doing to prevent the next attack?—triggered a number of changes in the Bureau.”

Mueller went on to explain the changes and then got into his management style. “The fact of the matter is, to whom you delegate and how you delegate is as important as anything else. People will tell you I am still not very good at it, and those are the individuals that are currently being micromanaged by me.”

“Several years ago, I had a rather salty chief of staff, an old friend named Lee Rawls, who would put me in my place. More than once, when I sought to micromanage a situation, he would politely push me to the side.

“And I would hear Lee say, ‘Don’t listen to him. He thinks he’s the Director of the FBI, but we can take care of this.’” “In one particularly heated meeting, everyone was frustrated—mostly with me—and I myself may have been a wee bit ill-tempered. ”

“Lee sat silently, and then said, ‘What is the difference between the Director of the FBI and a 4-year-old?’ The room grew hushed. Finally, he said, ‘Height!’ And with that, he broke the tension.”

“Micromanaging aside, it was responding to the terrorist threat and addressing the Bureau’s outdated technology that came to be my most substantial challenges.”

He went on to say in his speech how important it is to fight crime, but stay within the rule of law. “Every FBI employee takes an oath promising to uphold the rule of law and the United States Constitution—the same oath that I and each of you have taken.”

“In the end, we in the FBI know that we will be judged not only by our ability to keep Americans safe from crime and terrorism, but also by whether we safeguard the liberties for which we are fighting and maintain the trust of the American people.”

National Fraternal Order of Police Back Atty. Gen. Eric Holder

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Attorney Gen. Eric Holder Jr., whose likely to get a grilling from Republicans over ATF’s Operation Fast Furious when he appears Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, got some welcome backing on Thursday.

Politico reports that the National Fraternal Order of Police, the country’s largest group of sworn law enforcement officers, fired off a letter the committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) expressing its solidarity with Holder. The letter did not mention Fast and Furious.

“The FOP is very proud of the strong and positive working relationship that we have had with Eric Holder, not just for the two years in which he has served as the nation’s ‘top cop,’ but through his long career of public service,” wrote Chuck Canterbury, the organization’s National President, according to Politico. “As the brother of a retired law enforcement officer and one of the most dedicated and experienced law enforcement leaders, General Holder has been a true partner to the FOP and to our nation’s rank-and-file officers.”

The letter also emphasized that Holder has worked with the organization on fiscal challenges and officer safety, Politico reported.

More than 30 Republican lawmakers have asked for Holder’s resignation over Fast and Furious, an operation that encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to middlemen or “straw purchasers”, all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels.  ATF lost track of many guns, some of which surfaced at crime scenes on both sides of the border.

Holder testified before Congress earlier this year that he only learned of the operation after the controversy over it surfaced. But some Republican lawmakers believe he has been less forthright about when he learned of the matter and have asked for him to step down.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

 

Identity of Informant in Viktor Bout Case Revealed; He Had a Long, Lucrative Career and Made $9 Million-Plus

dea photo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

After earning more than $9 million over the course of 15 years as one of the government’s highest paid informants in history, Carlos Sagastume unveiled his identity at the New York  trial of international arms dealer Viktor Bout, reports the Associated Press.

Bout’s month-long trial ended in a Manhattan federal court on Wednesday when he was convicted of conspiracy charges, leaving him facing a potential life sentence.

Sagastume posed as a member of the Columbian guerrilla terrorist group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), coaxing Bout to travel from Russia to Thailand in March of 2008. The trip was supposed to be an opportunity for the twoto  arrange for weapons to be sent to Colombian rebels fighting American forces.

Most of Sagastume’s money was made working for the State Department’s Narcotics Rewards Program, where he made $7.5 million in two rewards through the DEA. He made another $1.6 million spread across 150 investigations. The work with Bout brought him $250,000.

“One would think that one’s cover would be blown much earlier,” Myrna S. Raeder, a Southwestern Law School professor, told the AP. “This sounds like fodder for a movie with that kind of background.”

To read more click here.

 

Defense for Suspected Terrorist Seeks Bail, Claims Mental Illness

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

When in doubt, play the crazy card.

A lawyer for Rezwan Ferdaus, the 26-year-old Muslim American arrested in September for plotting to fly explosive-packed remote control planes into the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol, suggested in court on Friday that the FBI ignored signs of the defendant’s mental illness during their investigation of him, reports the AP.

The suggestion was made at Ferdaus’ bail hearing. Ferdaus, as ticklethewire.com has reported, faces charges inluding attempting to provide material support to terrorists and attempting to damage and destroy national defense premises.

Ferdaus, who has a physics degree from Boston’s Northeastern University,  was arrested  in Framingham, Mass. when federal employees posing as al-Qaida members brought what he thought was 24 pounds of C-4 explosives. Ferdaus had also showed feds a cellphone he had fashioned into a detonation device.

To read more click here.

ATF, ICE, Local Police Bust $20M Tobacco Op

Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Got a smoke?

The ATF closed a three-year joint investigation by the US Attorney’s office for the Western District of Virginia and District of South Carolina, the ATF, the IRS, ICE and the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Department with multiple arrests in a scheme to move and tobacco illegally between Virginia and South Carolina, reports WYFF.

Indictments indicate that those involved acquired cigarettes in the western district of Virginia and brought them into South Carolina, where they were sold. Investigators told WYFF conspirators paid undercover officers about $20 million for untaxed cigarettes.

To read more, including the names and charges of the indicted, click here.

 

Op Ed: 2 State Atty. Generals — One a Former — Defend ATF and Atty. Gen. Holder

Mark Shurtleff , a Republican, is Utah attorney general; Terry Goddard, a Democrat,  is former Arizona attorney general.
  

Utah Atty. Gen. Mark Shurtleff

By Mark Shurtleff and Terry Goddard
Salt Lake Tribune Op-Ed

Congress and the media have understandably focused on the missteps of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in the “Fast and Furious” sting operation that allowed suspected “straw buyers” to purchase weapons and transport them to Mexico in order to build cases against drug cartels.

However, the covert operation was terminated abruptly after its possible connection to the tragic death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was revealed. Unfortunately, most of the recent criticism about the operation seems to be serving as a means to attack Attorney General Eric Holder and destroy the ATF, rather than to hold those behind Fast and Furious accountable.

The focus should be on the real public safety problem underlying this controversy: keeping arms from the Mexican drug cartels and protecting the security of the United States. However, many of the roadblocks faced by ATF and the Department of Justice are not being built by international criminals, but by Congress.

Ex-Az Atty. Gen. Terry Goddard

We are two Southwestern law enforcement officials, one a Republican and one a Democrat, and both gun owners who have faced border-related crimes on a daily basis over the past decade. We are very concerned about what is happening in Mexico, a critical U.S. ally which must be freed from the clutches of transnational criminal organizations.

We have worked closely with ATF and the Justice Department in our common fight against violent crime and appreciate that Holder has sought more resources for border law enforcement.

To read more click here.

Weekend Series on Crime History: Cleveland’s Irish Mobster Danny Greene

http://youtu.be/Q0cC5D9z7e8

http://youtu.be/AmfJ2jl0XLw

http://youtu.be/SPy57TbcK60

Grassley Fires Off Letter to Homeland Sec. Napolitano: Concerned About Reduced Searches for Illegals on Northern Border

By Danny Fenster

Sen. Grassley/official photo

ticklethewire.com

A letter from Senator Charles Grassley representing a group of 14 Senators is asking  Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to reconsider a policy to end routine traffic checks of buses, trains and other vehicles for illegal aliens along the United State’s northern border.

“News of the lessened security will only entice potential terrorists, drug smugglers, and illegal immigrants to attempt to enter the country through the northern border,” read the letter issued Friday.  “The American people must be reassured that our borders remain secure and routine searches will continue.”

Grassley learned of the new policy from media reports, another point of contention he had with DHS.

“The nature in which we learned of the orders sent to the north border field offices is quite troubling considering you appeared before the Senate and House Judiciary Committees over the past two weeks and neglected to inform of this change in policy.”

Grassley asked for copies of any memos or directives sent to the field.

The letter also pointed out specific instances of terrorists crossing or being stopped at the Canadian border, attempting to enter the United States to commit harm.

To read the letter click here.