Links

Columnists



Site Search


Entire (RSS)
Comments (RSS)

Archive Calendar

December 2011
S M T W T F S
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

Guides

How to Become a Bounty Hunter



Archive for December, 2011

How Far Does Free Speech Go For Agents of Law Enforcement?

istock photo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

It is a fundamentally American right to criticize one’s government, to speak out against wrongful policies–a patriotic act, some would say. But how much dissent is possible if one’s job is to enforce existing laws, whether one agrees with them or not? Legislative change is reserved for political channels, after all–not law enforcement.

A Border Patrol agent found out just how far that dissent can–or, rather, can’t–go, reports the New York Times.

Bryan Gonzalez, a retired police officer and ex-Marine, pulled his vehicle alongside another agent during a lull at their Deming, N.M. border station, and began venting about some of the job’s frustrations, the Times reported.

Gonzalez acknowledged remarking to the other agent that if marijuana were legal drug violence in Mexico would cease, then referenced the organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), which advocates for an end to the war on drugs.

That and remarks sympathetic to illegal immigrants were passed on along the chain all the way to Border Patrol headquarters in Washington, according to the Times, where the decision was made to let Gonzalez go. Mr. Gonzalez held “personal views that were contrary to core characteristics of Border Patrol Agents, which are patriotism, dedication and espirit de corps,” his termination letter read.

“More and more members of the law enforcement community are speaking out against failed drug policies, and they don’t give up their right to share their insight and engage in this important debate simply because they receive government paychecks,” Daniel Pochoda, the legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, told the Times. Pochoda is handling the case of Joe Miller, an Arizona probation officer who was fired after adding his name to a letter from LEAP.

Miller was one of a handful of federally employed signers of the letters; the rest were mostly retired law enforcement officials who were free from the boss’s reactions. LEAP began with “five disillusioned officers” in 2002, reports the Times, and has grown to include “145 judges, prosecutors, police officers, prison guards and other law enforcement officials, most of them retired,” who can speak free of reprimands, according to the Times.

“I don’t want to work at a place that says I can’t think,” said Mr. Gonzalez. He has since worked as a bouncer, a construction worker and a yard worker, and has considered going back to school and studying law. He filed suit in a Texas federal court in January. Defending the Border Patrol, the Justice Department has sought to have the case thrown out.

“We all know the drug war is a bad joke,” an anonymous veteran Texas police told the Times over the phone. “But we also know that you’ll never get promoted if you’re seen as soft on drugs.”

To read more click here.

 

 

Column: Ex-FBI Agent Coleen Rowley: Americans’ Rights at Risk

 

FBI Agent Coleen Rowley/ photo ia.ucsb.edu

By Coleen Rowley, former FBI Agent
ConsortiumNews.com

The political, military industrial, corporate class in Washington DC continues to re-make our Constitutional Republic into a powerful, unaccountable Military Empire.

The U.S. Senate has just voted 93 to 7 to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012, which allows the military to operate domestically within the borders of the United States and to possibly (or most probably) detain U.S. citizens without trial.

Forget that the ACLU called it “an historic threat to American citizens,” this bill is so dangerous not only to our rights but to our country’s security that it was criticized by the Directors of the FBI and the CIA, the Director of National Intelligence and the U.S. Defense Secretary!

For the first time in our history, if this Act is not vetoed, American citizens may not be guaranteed their Article III right to trial. The government would be able to decide who gets an old-fashioned trial (along with right to attorney and right against self-incrimination) and who gets detained without due process and put into a modern legal limbo.

To read more click here.

Fast and Furious Redux? DEA Launders Drug Money to Get to Mexican Cartels

Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Shades of Operation Fast and Furious?

DEA agents have laundered or smuggled–or, “let walk”–millions of dollars in drug proceeds in an effort to trace the money to the end recipients, reports the New York Times. The DEA sought to understand how cartels moved their money, where assets were kept and, ultimately, who the leaders were. Money was put into trafficker accounts or shell accounts set up by agents, according to the Times.

The DEA said the operations began in Mexico only within the past few years, but similar operations have been used internationally before. The controversial tactic lets cartels continue their activities while the investigation is ongoing, and raises serious some questions about the agency’s effectiveness, diplomacy and Mexican sovereignty and the distinction between surveilling and facilitating crime, the Times reported.

Former DEA officials reject any comparison between the laundering operation and the  gun-walking program Fast and Furious, saying that money poses far less a threat to public safety and can lead more directly to the top ranks of cartels, the Times reports.

To read more click here.

Ex-Chicago Cop Pleads Guilty to Crimes Involving Latin Kings Gang

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Another story from the city known for deep dish pizza, hot dogs and public corruption: a former Chicago police officer pleaded guilty Friday to a series of charges involving collusion with the violent Latin Kings street gang.

Antonio C. Martinez Jr., a 40-year-old former Chicago police officer, faces a possible lifetime sentence on charges including racketeering conspiracy; conspiracy to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana; robbery; and using a firearm while committing the crimes, according to a statement from the Justice Department.

A series of robberies committed between 2004 and 2006 were done under the direction of the Latin Kings, Martinez admitted. He used his status as a police officer to facilitate the robberies, many of which were committed against drug traffickers in the region. He also admitted to picking up and dropping off packages of cocaine multiple times for the gang.

Sentencing is scheduled for June 14.

Hedge Funder Employees Charged in FBI Sting; Agent Pretended to Represent Major Fund

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Hard to believe there is corruption in the hedge fund industry, aye?

An FBI sting has resulted in charges against 11 people with ties to hedge fund companies, plus two “finders,”  the finance website FINalternatives.com.

An FBI agent posed as a representative of a major hedge fund, operating from an office in suburban Boston the bureau set up. The agent offered a $5 million investments to mircocap companies, publicly traded companies which tend to have more risk and volatility, in exchange for a 50 percent kickback.

The SEC suspended trading for the companies involved, which include Augrid Global Holdings, Comcan International, First Global Financial Corp., MicroHoldings US, Outfront Companies, Symbollon Pharmaceuticals and ZipGlobal Holdings.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

 

 

Justice Dept. Admits “Inaccuracies” in Letter Regarding ATF’s Fast and Furious

atf file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The controversy over the Justice Department and what it knew about ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious seems to be going on and on and on.

The latest: The Wall Street Journal’s Evan Perez reports that the “Justice Department on Friday formally withdrew a February letter about its tactics in investigating gun trafficking, acknowledging in response to congressional criticism that it contained ‘inaccuracies.'”

At issue was a letter to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Ia.) from the Justice Department which said the Justice Department made “every effort to interdict weapons and prevent their transportation to Mexico,” according to the Journal.

Problem was that really wasn’t true when it came to ATF’s failed Operation Fast and Furious.

Under the operation,  ATF  was letting guns walk, so to speak, by encouraging gun dealers in Arizona to sell to straw purchasers, all with the hopes of letting the guns into Mexico so agents could trace them to the drug cartels. In other words, agents were not interdicting the guns as the Justice Department suggested.

In fact, agents lost track of many weapons, some which surfaced at crime scenes on both sides of border. Two of those weapons surfaced at the crime scene where Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was killed last year.

The Journal reported that the Justice Department blamed lower level employees at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona and at ATF for providing the inaccurate information.

 

Weekend Series on Crime: The Mongol Nation Bikers

http://youtu.be/kHFvm8C-GKU

Rep Darrell Issa May Recommend that ATF be Folded Into the FBI

Rep. Issa/gov photo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, who has led the crusade against Attorney General Eric Holder during the Fast and Furious investigations, said he may recommend merging  ATF into the FBI, Bloomberg reports.

“ATF, perhaps, should be molded completely into the FBI and be done with it,” the California Republican told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor-sponsored breakfast in Washington. “There is no reason you can’t have a special unit under the FBI” that investigates federal firearms laws. Both the ATF and the FBI are under the Justice Department.

Over the years, rumors have circulated that the ATF or DEA might be folded into the FBI.  Lawmakers from time to time have pushed for such changes as well.

To read more click here.