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Archive for December, 2011

Atty. Gen. Holder Gets Partisan Grilling on the Hill; He Pushes Back

Atty. Gen. Holder on the Hill on Thursday/ttw photo via C-Span

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Attorney Gen. Eric Holder took heat once again from congressional Republicans over the ATF’s Fast and Furious operation, speaking with the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

Republican Rep. Darrel Issa (R-Calif.), who has largely been leading the charge against the Attorney General, kept up his sharp remarks, telling Holder he has no confidence in him or a president that would stand behind him. Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar recently told the Daily Caller–a website that has been vocally critical of Holder–that he will push for a vote of no confidence in Holder as A.G.

The attack on Thursday at the hearing  was aimed at ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious, which encouraged gun dealers in Arizona to sell to straw purchasers or middlemen, all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels.  Problem was, ATF, which operates  under the Justice Department umbrella, lost track of many of those guns, some which surfaced at crime scenes on both sides of the border.

Holder has said all along that he only learned of the operation when it surfaced as a controversy, and condemned the tactics. Some Republicans have insisted that he’s lying about what he knew, and have asked for his resignation.

James Sensenbrenner, Republican from Wisconsin, implied that Holder had lied to Congress regarding details about Fast and Furious and when Holder learned of the tactics. “If the can keeps getting kicked,” Sensenbrenner told Holder, impeachment may be the only option.

When Texas Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee asked for clarification of who Sensenbrenner suggested he might seek to impeach, she was shut down by Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, the House Judiciary Committee chair.

“I think that some heads should roll,” Sensenbrenner continued, calling for the firing of  Justice Dept. official Lanny Breuer, who heads the criminal division.

The argument remained split along party lines, with Democrats insisting the accusations against Holder and the Justice Department are overblown, citing the good ATF has done in the past. Representatives John Conyers, D-Mich., and Bobby Scott, D-Va., said the increased gun violence along the border calls for the so-called “Demand Letter 3,” which some gun rights activists have suggested was the plan all along. The letter was sent to gun dealers, mandating that they report sales of two or more assault rifles to the same person within five days.

Holder conceded, as he has in the past, that the tactics used in Fast and Furious were “unacceptable tactics” and “inexcusable.”

Still, he insisted the department has cooperated with Congressional investigators looking into the botched operation and who gave the go ahead.

He also addressed the issue of the department in February providing a misleading to Congress about Fast and Furious, which essentially denied the things that were going on with the operation.

But Holder said no one who prepared the letter lied, but were given incorrect information.

When pressed by Sensenbrenner as why providing false information wasn’t  considered lying, Holder said:

“It all has to do with your state of mind and whether or not you had the requisite intent to come up with something that can be considered perjury or lie,” Holder said.

Holder was also critical of some Republican critics of his, saying they were engaged in “inflammatory and inappropriate rhetoric … in an effort to score political points.”

It’s time to end “politically motivated ‘gotcha’ games,” he said.

Column: Lawmaker Claims Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Protecting Staff in Fast and Furious

Rep. Issa/gov photo

By Rep. Darrell Issa
USA Today

As facts continue to emerge about a botched gun investigation of Mexican cartels, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has given the American people reason to doubt his ability to effectively lead the Department of Justice.

His reasoning and judgment will be tested once again Thursday as he testifies about the “Fast and Furious” operation before the House Judiciary Committee.

Nearly a year after a U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed by a weapon linked to the botched operation, Holder’s Justice Department has spent far more time and resources trying to salvage the careers of senior officials who knew about the operation than in creating accountability for this tragedy and ensuring that nothing like this will happen again.

Conceived by the Phoenix Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives — a Justice Department agency — Fast and Furious began in November 2009 after calls by Justice officials to focus resources on Mexican drug cartel leaders rather than low-level straw buyers.

To read more click here.

Ex-ATF Agent Gets 21 Months

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

A former Oklahoma ATF Agent was sentenced to 21 months in prison on Tuesday for helping Tulsa police falsify evidence against suspected drug dealers, reports KCBD.

Brandon McFadden was a Lubbock, Okla. police officer before becoming and ATF agents. He pleaeded guilty to the charges last year and had been living in the area while awaiting sentencing. He agreed to work with federal prosecutors for a lighter sentence; he was facing up to five years. Two police officers were also sentenced.

 

FBI Investigating Detroit School Contract

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Funding teen suicide prevention efforts is a laudable act, no doubt. But that all depends, of course, on whether the funding is actually being used for that purpose.

In Detroit, FBI agents are investigating allegations that a fundraiser for Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, who was investigated earlier this year on “pay-to-play” charges, was paid top dollar to host teen suicide prevention forums that never occurred, reports the Detroit News.

For at least two weeks federal agents have been investigating a contract from 2008 to Larry D. Dickerson for hosting 12 school forums for the “Behind Happy Faces Initiative,” as well as other mental health efforts, sources told The Detroit News; but former Commissioner Phil Cavanagh said only two of the forums occurred. Dickerson was paid $70,000 for the forums.

Officials from school districts that were supposed to host the forums said that cannot find any indications the forums occurred, according to the Detroit News.

“With Wayne County and Detroit going bankrupt and emergency managers knocking at the door, how on earth can they afford these kinds of boondoggles?” asked Ralph Kinney, a former Ficano aide.

To read more click here.

Head of FBI’s Norfolk Office Off to Headquarters

Alex Turner

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Alex J. Turner, special agent in charge the Norfolk, Va. FBI office since January 2008, is headed to headquarters in D.C.  to serve as Deputy Assistant Director of the agency’s Security Division, reports the Virginian-Pilot.

Turner was born in Oklahoma. He went to school at the University of Maryland then began his career as a police officer in Greenbelt, Md. Turner previously worked as the chief of the national and criminal enterprise program at FBI headquarters, as well as a 10 year stint in Atlanta as an undercover in drug cases, later managing the office’s gang task force,

FBI Investigates Russian World Cup Bid

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Did anybody find it surprising when Russia beat out England for the 2018 World Cup bid? How about Qatar beating the US for the 2022 bid?

The FBI seems to think it strange. A group of agents with the “Eurasian organized crime” unit are investigating a possible email hacking related to the selection process, and some of the hackers may be tied to Russia, reports Dead Spin. The US originally sought the 2018 bid, which would have put them in direct competition with Russia, which has denied an part in the hacking. Members of England’s bid team were recently questioned about the hacking by FBI investigators.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST:

Blago’s Biggest Crime: He Thought He Was Smarter Than All of Us

Blagojevich/file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ok, so I wouldn’t have given ex-Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich 14 years in prison for his infinite arrogance and his corrupt ways. Ten or 12 would have sufficed.

That being said, I can’t say he didn’t deserve getting the toughest sentence of any crooked Illinois governor. He never stopped yapping and denying and lying. He went on Letterman and the View and the Daily Show and came up with more trash than a mobbed-up sanitation firm.

The worst part about it all is that he assumed we were all dumber than him.

It was obvious the sentencing Judge James Zagel wasn’t dumber than Blago. And it was easy to see from press reports from the two trials that the judge didn’t appreciate his shenanigans.

In Blago’s first trial, the prosecution screwed up. It made the case far too complicated for the jury. The jury came back with one conviction out of 24 counts. Blago and his attorneys had sense of enough not to put Blago on the stand.

But in the second trial, prosecutors convicted Blago on 17 of 20 counts. Blago took the stand — the arrogant guy that he is — hoping to dupe the jury. That didn’t work.

Blago turns 55 on Dec. 10. He’s set to report to prison in February. He’ll be gone a long long time.

I feel sorry for him. Even though he has a law degree and served in Congress and was governor, he wasn’t a very smart guy.

And the dumbest thing he did was assume he was a smart guy — smarter than all the rest of us.

Column: Blago’s Biggest Crime: He Assumed He Was Smarter Than All of Us

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ok, so I wouldn’t have given ex-Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich 14 years in prison for his infinite arrogance and his corrupt ways. Ten or 12 would have sufficed.

That being said, I can’t say he didn’t deserve getting the toughest sentence of any crooked Illinois governor. He never stopped yapping and denying and lying. He went on Letterman and the View and the Daily Show and came up with more trash than a mobbed-up sanitation firm.

The worst part about it all is that he assumed we were all dumber than him.

It was obvious the sentencing Judge James Zagel wasn’t dumber than Blago. And it was easy to see from press reports from the two trials that the judge didn’t appreciate his shenanigans.

In Blago’s first trial, the prosecution screwed up. It made the case far too complicated for the jury. The jury came back with one conviction out of 24 counts. Blago and his attorneys had sense of enough not to put Blago on the stand.

But in the second trial, prosecutors convicted Blago on 17 of 20 counts. Blago took the stand — the arrogant guy that he is — hoping to dupe the jury. That didn’t work.

Blago turns 55 on Dec. 10. He’s set to report to prison in February. He’ll be gone a long long time.

I feel sorry for him. Even though he has a law degree and served in Congress and was governor, he wasn’t a very smart guy.

And the dumbest thing he did was assume he was a smart guy — smarter than all the rest of us.