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Archive for March, 2012

Obama Orders Atty. Gen. Holder to Investigate Oil Price Speculation

Pres. Obama at state of the union/white house photo

By Jon Perkins
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said Tuesday at a press conference that Attorney General Eric Holder will reconstitute the Oil and Gas Price Fraud Working Group to probe the rising prices at the gas pumps around the nation.

The move comes amid a consensus that speculation is what has driven the cost of a gallon of gasoline  up 42 cents from the beginning of January to the end of February when the average retail price per gallon of gasoline jumped  from $3.30 to $3.72.

Obama did not detail when the group will report its findings or just what the panel would do. The group was created in 2011 to root out speculators who buy and sell oil futures based on the predicted price of oil. The task force, which has met bout a half dozen times,  has been helping the Federal Trade Commission investigate  gas prices since June 2011.

Oil speculation is generally legal unless the investor has relied on insider information.

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Texas Financier R. Allen Stanford Convicted in $7 Billion Fraud

R. Allen Stanford

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

All the riches in the world, and no where to go but prison.

A fed jury in Houston on Tuesday convicted wealthy Texan R. Allen Stanford,61,  on 13 of 14 counts that involved allegations that he ran a $7 billion fraud through an offshore bank, the Houston Chronicle reported. Family members wiped away tears as the verdict was read, according to the paper.

The conviction is likely to keep him behind bars for quite a while.

The charges included conspiracy, fraud, obstruction and money laundering. The counts of which he was found guilty carry total penalties of 230 years.

To read more click here.

FBI Announces $1 Million Reward to Help Find Ex-FBI Agent Who Vanished in Iran in 2007

 
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

On the five-year anniversary of his disappearance– which happens to be this week — the FBI is offering a $1 million reward and is launching a publicity campaign in Asia to try to locate and bring home ex-FBI agent Robert A. Levinson, who vanished while on business in Iran.

The FBI said that on March 8, 2007, Levinson traveled to Kish Island, Iran as a private investigator “and has not been publicly seen or heard from since his disappearance on March 9, 2007.”

“On the fifth anniversary of Bob’s disappearance, the FBI continues to follow every lead into his abduction and captivity,” James W. McJunkin, head of the FBI’s Washington Field Office said in a statement.

“We are committed to bringing Bob home safely to his family. We hope that this reward will encourage anyone with information about Bob or his captors, no matter how insignificant it seems, to contact the FBI.”

Director Mueller, seen with Robert Levinson’s wife Christine and Deputy Director Sean Joyce, announces a $1 million reward in the Levinson case./fbi photo

Authorities said a year ago Sec. of State Hillary Clinton issued a statement saying the U.S. had info that Levinson was being held captive by a group in southwest Asia.

Authorities said they were launching a publicity campaign in southwest Asia to heighten awareness of Levinson’s abduction and $1 million reward  via billboards, radio messages, and flyers. A tip line will be provided to listeners and viewers.

 

TSA’s John Pistole Talks About Airport Security

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

ATF’s #2 Says Agency Mistakenly Used Drug Strategy in Operation Fast and Furious

Tom Brandon/atf photo

 
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The number two person at ATF says a key mistake in the controversial Operation Fast and Furious was that “a narcotics based strategy was applied to a firearms trafficking investigation.”

Tom Brandon, who stepped in last October as ATF’s deputy director as part of an effort to clean house after the failed Operation Fast and Furious came to the public’s attention, explained that while drug agents sometimes let drugs and money walk to further an investigation, it’s not good to do the same for gun probes.

“When you use that in firearms, that’s not good,” he said during an interview  on the radio show “The Badge” with Howard Safir.

He said people in management at the Phoenix ATF office had good intentions when they launched the operation, but “their decisions were bad.”

Fast and Furious encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers, all with the hopes of tracing the guns to the Mexican cartels. ATF lost track of many of the guns, some of which surfaced at crime scenes on both sides of the border including one involving the murder in Arizona of U.S. Border agent Brian Terry.

“We made mistakes and we’re owning up to them,” he said of the operation.

Reader Responses

I am Mike Grimes, DEA retired, and a frequent reader of Tickle the Wire.

Tom Brandon at ATF is very misinformed about DEA’s policy on allowing drugs to “walk.” He makes it sound as though it is an every day occurrence. This is not the case. Yes, DEA will occasionally allow (the taxpayers’) money to walk. Money, as it exists, is not dangerous.

Yes, DEA will occasionally allow a very small drug sample to walk for testing purposes, not for use or distribution. DEA allowing a drug sample to walk is a rare occurrence because of the liability potential.

Mr. Brandon needs to find another avenue to deflect ATF’s foolish operational standard.

*********

Comment from BobbyT7 | [e]

Time March 6, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Mike Grimes tells it like it is. I was assigned to a DEA group for several years and participated in dozens of undercover buys. I doubt the group let even a total of an ounce walk in those years.

I retired from the former USINS and was a border patrol agent for ten years, prior to my USINS special agent experience.

The part I don’t understand is how Fast & Furious got through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) process??? This is a major DOJ program in the criminal division. It requires review and approval by all of the member agencies of OCDETF, which includes ATF, DEA, FBI, ICE, IRS/CID and the U.S. Marshall Service. How could anyone sign off on such an operational proposal, much less experienced agents of all of these federal agencies, plus numerous federal prosecutors that review ALL proposals.

Did the operational plan come from the top (very high political level) down, so it didn’t matter what was written in the proposal??? Was there ever a proposal written???

ICE had an agent assigned directly to the ATF group that conducted Fast & Furious, what was he reporting through his chain of command???

Who decided to NOT tell the Mexicans??? Not some civil servant, I can certainly assure you.

Who decided not to tell the U.S. Department of State, our embassy etc…???

Holder Probes NYPD’s Surveillance of Muslims; Some Muslims Support the Spying

By Jon Perkins
ticklethewire.com

In a new twist in an ongoing controversy, Muslim groups on Monday gathered in Manhattan to thank the New York Police Department for surveilling Muslims in two New Jersey cities and 16 college campuses, NorthJersey.com reported.

Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, the president of the American Islamic Foundation, who attended a rally of about three dozen people, told the paper he saw nothing wrong with NPYD’s actions so long as it collected information in public.

“Maybe they can stop someone before they strap a bomb to their chest,” he said, according to the paper.

The gathering came in the wake  of comments last week by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who told Congress that he has begun an investigation into alleged spying of Muslims by the New York Police Department.

The Associated Press reported that Holder’s department will look into whether the police violated the some Muslims’ civil rights. The attorney general did not give a time frame for completing the probe.

He testified, according to AP, that police should only monitor citizens’ activities  “when there is a basis to believe that something inappropriate is occurring or potentially could occur.”

Documents obtained by the Associated Press show that the NYPD has built databases pinpointing where Muslims live, where they buy groceries, what Internet cafes they use and where they watch sports.

Dozens of mosques and student groups have been infiltrated, and police have built detailed profiles of Moroccans, Egyptians, Albanians and other local ethnic groups, AP reported.

Holder told Congress last week that police seeking to monitor activities by citizens “should only do so when there is a basis to believe that something inappropriate is occurring or potentially could occur.”

Ex-Atty. Gen. Ashcroft Endorses Romney

John Aschcroft/doj photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Republican establishment is beginning to line up for GOP hopeful Mitt Romney.

The latest: Former Attorney General John Ashcroft, who served under George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005,  endorsed Romney on Monday, according to The Hill.

“I admire Mitt’s record of fiscal responsibility, lower taxes and defense of traditional values in a politically difficult state for a Republican,” Ashcroft said in a statement, according to The Hill.

“I had the opportunity to work with Mitt Romney on issues of national security during the 2002 Winter Olympics and counted him as a trustworthy, effective ally in the fight against terror while he was governor of Massachusetts. I know that the lives and liberties of the American people will be secure with him as president.”

Atty. Gen. Holder Defends Right to Kill American Terrorists Overseas

Eric Holder Jr./ticklethewire.com file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Attorney Gen. Eric Holder Jr. on Monday defended what he sees as America’s right to kill suspected American terrorists overseas.

“Let me be clear: an operation using lethal force in a foreign country, targeted against a U.S. citizen who is a senior operational leader of al Qaeda or associated forces, and who is actively engaged in planning to kill Americans, would be lawful at least in the following circumstances,” he said in a speech at Northwestern University Law School in Chicago.

“First, the U.S. government has determined, after a thorough and careful review, that the individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States; second, capture is not feasible; and third, the operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles.”

To read the rest of his speech click here.

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