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Archive for January, 2012

Slain ATF Agent Honored at Childhood Schools

John Capano/atf photo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The flags flew at half mast this week at the school district where  ATF John Capano attended.

Capano was fatally shot Dec. 31 when he tried to interfere with a robbery occurring at the Long Island pharmacy where he was picking his father’s cancer medication. Authorities suspect he was accidentally shot by a retired cop who came to his rescue.

In the Seaford School District, in Seaford, New York, Capano was honored as all U.S.  flags were placed at half-mast, the Massapequa Patch reports. At a Seaford Board of Education meeting on Thursday night, a moment of silence is also planned in honor of the former ATF agent.

Brian Conboy, Seaford Superintendent of Schools, told the Patch he remembers growing up with Capano, running into him in recent years at a local 7-11 and catching up on old times.

“He had very strong ties to the community,” Conboy said. “He comes from a very community-minded family.” The two attended school together at the former Seaford Avenue Elementary school and were in Boy Scouts and Little League together, according to Patch.

To read more click here.

Atty. General Holder to Testify on Fast and Furious

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

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Is it Groundhog Day — as in the Bill Murray film?

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will once again testify on Feb. 2 before Congress where he’s gotten a grilling in the past several months on ATF’s controversial gun walking operation “Fast and Furious.”

Rep. Darrell Issa’s office fired off a press release announcing the appearance, and indicated it’s the first one for Holder that will be exclusively focus on  Fast and Furious. In previous appearances, he’s also addressed other issues.

This is the third time Holder will have testified before congressional panels since November.

Holder will appear before Issa’s Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

“The Department of Justice’s conduct in the investigation of Operation Fast and Furious has been nothing short of shameful,” said Issa in a statement.

“From its initial denials that nothing improper occurred, to efforts to silence whistleblowers who wanted to tell Congress what really happened, to its continuing refusal to discuss or share documents related to this cover-up, the Justice Department has fought tooth and nail to hide the full truth about what occurred and what senior officials knew. Attorney General Holder must explain or reverse course on decisions that appear to put the careers of political appointees ahead of the need for accountability and the Department’s integrity.”

To read more click here.

 

Connecticut to Ramp-Up Racial Profiling Reporting Following Justice Dept. Report

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Things are about to change in Connecticut.

Following the Justice Department’s discovery of a pattern of discrimination in one town, law enforcement officials have announced they will ramp up efforts to crack down on racial profiling, Fox News Latino reports.

Police Departments are supposed to track potential racial profiling by officers based on a 1999 law, but for years, says FOX, many departments in Connecticut did not submit reports.

Now, Connecticut officials are promising to ramp up enforcement following the recent release of details of a U.S. Department of Justice investigation that found discrimination against Latino residents by East Haven Police.

The governor, Dannel P. Malloy, said he is directing his staff to collect required traffic stop data including the race and ethnicity of those pulled over, then submit that to “an appropriate outside evaluator” to analyze. Only one such report has been done in 10 years in Connecticut.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST:

 

At FBI, Hope for Injured Soldiers Returning Home

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

It was an IED that did it for Povas Miknaitis.

After an initial deployment to Iraq in 2008, he was later sent to Afghanistan as a Marine rifleman. In Afghanistan, an IED blast sent shrapnel flying; some hit his arm and abdomen; larger pieces struck his face, shattering his jaw and blowing his right ear clean off of his head.

“Part of my mouth was missing,”  Miknaitis tells ticklethewire.com. “It just broke my jaw completely.”

It was in a hospital, recovering from the blast in 2009, that Miknaitis heard about an FBI training program for injured soldiers called Wounded Warriors. He began filling out paperwork and initiating the process of joining the bureau’s Wounded Warriors internship program. In 2011, when the program was launched, he landed a spot in a program that seems to be taking off.

So far, so good.

Of the 21 soldiers who have completed various internships, two have been hired full time; one as a clerk and another in IT. Another 43 are currently serving as interns, 78 are being processed and more are in line pending a funding evaluation, says FBI spokeswoman Amy Thoreson. Interns work in a variety of capacities, from logistics, intelligence, investigations to computer- and technology-focused jobs.

“Our goal is to give them working experience and the clearances they need,” to get back to work, says Thoreson. “We think this is a really wonderful program. It’s really helping people get their lives back.”

The San Diego field office, where Miknaitis interned, is among the few offices that are participating in the program. Others include the Washington Field Office, Sacramento, Charlotte and the FBI’s International Operations Division, Operational Technology Division, and Laboratory.

As expected, landing a spot with the FBI — even a temporary one — requires an intensive background check.

“This was not the same background check I went through for the military,” says Miknaitis. Agents called friends and family of his. “I had relatives calling me from Chicago asking if I was okay, saying the FBI had called asking questions about me,” he recollects.

Once Miknaitis was cleared, he began he began an internship researching cases for ongoing FBI investigations. “I was always interested in law enforcement,” he says, “and the internship program really let me learn a lot more about it. It got me employed while I was still recovering.”

Miknaitis still spends much of his time at a San Diego hospital. “It takes a while to go through the treatment, for the doctors to make sure they have done absolutely everything they can,” he says.

The program had its genesis in November of 2009, when president Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13518. That order focused on employing veterans in the federal government. The following July, president Obama signed Executive Order 13548, which focused on increasing the number of federal employee hires with disabilities.

As for Miknaitis, he’s grateful for the experience, but learned that the FBI might not be for him.

“I want to be able to go home and talk about my work,” he says, “not to have to say, ‘well, I really can’t talk about that honey, that’s classified information.”

After much physical therapy and plastic surgery, Miknaitis is doing well and poised to begin school in the fall, possibly for sports medicine, he says.

“I actually got pretty lucky,” he says. “If you saw my face and my body after the injury, you would not think I would have come out looking this good afterword.” He remains deaf in his right ear, but he and his doctors have spoken about cochlear implants in the future.

More than 47,000 soldiers have been injured in action in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

 

‘Underwear Bomber’ Not Entitled to New Lawyer, Govt. Says

Suspect Abdulmutallab/u.s. marshals photo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called “underwear bomber” who tried to ignite a bomb in his underwear on a Detroit-bound flight on Christmas Day in 2009, wants a new — preferably Muslim stand-by lawyer — for his upcoming sentencing on Jan. 19, the Detroit Free Press reports. Fed prosecutors are opposed.

“Because defendant represents himself, he has no right to standby counsel, let alone standby counsel of his choice,” federal prosecutors wrote in court documents filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit, according to the Free Press. They say he isn’t entitled to one, and granting his demand would delay the hearing which numerous passengers on the Detroit flight have planned to attend and speak at.

Abdulmutallab requested a new lawyer recently for his upcoming January 19 sentencing.

To read more click here.

 

 

FBI Investigates ‘Non-Hazardous’ Powder Sent to Florida Prosecutor’s Office

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The return of the Anthrax it was not.

Still, three people reported falling ill on Tuesday after being exposed to a “suspicious” powder in the mail room of the State Attorney’s Office in West Palm Beach office, a city spokesman told CNN. Now the FBI is investigating the incident.

The powder was not hazardous, according to initial reports, but the bureau will continue to investigate, Margaret Williams of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service told CNN. And even though the powder doesn’t seem to be hazardous, two of the three workers sent to the hospital complained of headache, nausea and vomiting, Scott said. Additionally, a firefighter responding to the incident was hospitalized for cardiac problems. Because he was equipped with an air tank, it is uncertain what specifically the causes of the cardiac problems were attributable to.

In the post 9-11 era, mail goes through detector systems at the post office to check for biological agents like anthrax.  No anthrax has been found in the mail since 2001 when five people died and 17 were sickened.

To read more click here.

Confusion Over ATF Gun Approvals for Manunfacturers

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The Washington Times reports that there’s some confusion between gun manufacturers and the ATF.

“ATF regulations for the manufacture of weapons are often unclear,” the paper reports, “leading to reliance on a secretive system” where proposed guns are submitted for approval one by one and “judgements are private and, it turns out, sometimes contradictory.”

The approval process is known as “letter rulings,” according to the Washington Times, and a major critic of the process is former assistant director of criminal investigations for the ATF Robert E. Sanders, who said that letter rulings are often “definitely contradictory and inconsistent,” though still necessary because regulations are ill-defined.

“It is hard to tell what ATF wants you to do without submitting your product and asking for a letter ruling,” he said. “You can’t tell what the agency has said in the past to others, because those letter rulings are generally secret. How could somebody know how to comply with the law?”

To read more click here.

Military Man with Carry-On Explosives Proclaims Ignorance

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Sgt. 1st Class Trey Scott Atwater, the military man who shut down a Texas airport over the weekend when he tried to carry on explosives to a flight, said he didn’t know the prohibited materials were in his bag, FayObserver reports.

Atwater had not used his carry-on bag since bringing it back from Afghanistan in April, a federal affidavit released on Tuesday say. Atwater took the bag from his garage to carry children’s items for a family trip to Texas, he said, according to the website.

Atwater waived a hearing scheduled for Tuesday and will remain in custody in Midland, Tex. , the US Attorney in Midland said. If convicted he faces up to ten years in federal prison, in addition to fines.

To read more click here.