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Archive for November, 2012

Report: Homeland Security Employees Are Disproportionately Affected by Low Morale

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Department of Homeland Security is plagued with low morale, much more so than other federal agencies, according to a Department of Homeland Security report.

The report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office urges the DHS to determine the reason for low morale and solve the problem.

“GAO found that despite having broad performance metrics in place to track and assess DHS employee morale on an agencywide level, DHS does not have specific metrics within the action plans that are consistently clear and measurable,” the GAO report concluded.

The report examined four agencies within DHS: ICE, TSA, Border Protection and the Coast Guard.

Job satisfaction, according to the report, is being affected by perceptions of low pay and unfairness of performance evaluations.

Committee Trying to Narrow Selection for Chicago U.S. Attorney

Jonathan Bunge/law firm photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A selection committee in Illinois is working to whittle down the list of potential candidates for Chicago U.S. Attorney, a post that was vacated by Patrick Fitzgerald.

Chicago Sun-Times reporters Natasha Korecki and Kim Janssen wrote about the following  candidates:

Jonathan Bunge, a former deputy chief of the U.S. attorney’s general crimes section in Chicago, who now works with the Kirkland & Ellis law firm.

Zach Fardon, who prosecuted former Gov. George Ryan in Chicago and was first assistant U.S. attorney in Nashville before going into private practice with Latham and Watkins in Chicago.

Lori Lightfoot, who is the only female and only minority on the list. Lightfoot is one of the city’s leading African-American attorneys and was once the chief administrator at the Chicago Police Department’s Office of Professional Standards. Lightfoot works with the Mayer Brown law firm.

Gil Soffer, who worked in Washington, D.C., under former Deputy Attorney General Mark Filip, who is co-chair of the selection committee, has served as a commissioner on the Illinois Executive Ethics Commission. The Harvard Law graduate is National Co-Head of White Collar Defense, Internal Investigations and Compliance Practice at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP.

The reporters also wrote:

The list does not include two candidates who insiders believed would be among the finalists — U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall, who has traveled the world educating other jurisdictions on how to institute laws and prosecutorial practices against sex trafficking and child exploitation, and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Collins, who spearheaded Operation Safe Road, which led to charges against Ryan — one of the most significant investigations in the history of the office.

 

Report: U.S. Immigration Courts Rife with Delays, Inaccurate Reports

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

 U.S. immigration courts are riddled with delays and inaccurate reports, according to a report issued Tuesday by the inspector general of the Justice Department, the San Antonio Express-News writes.

The report shows that immigration courts have overstated accomplishments and failed to properly document persistent delays that are crowding the dockets and court calendars, the San Antonio Express-News reported.

The inspector general report is based on eight sample states and 1,785 immigration removal cases.

About 53% of case averaged four continuances that resulted in more than a year of delays, the San Antonio Express-News wrote.

Also discovered were inaccurate reports about the disposition of immigration cases.

Texas Border Patrol Agent Accused of Molesting Teenage Relative Drew Suspicions from Text Messages

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Texas Border Patrol agent who was arrested on accusations of molesting a 14-year-old family member first drew suspicions after sending the girl texts, KRIS TV reports.

According to an affidavit obtained by the news station, the girl’s mother first became suspicious because of “boyfriend-like” texts from 49-year-old Jose Jalomos to the teen. Authorities allege the crimes took place in Duvall County, Tex.

His wife also accused him of having an affair and seeing the text messages exchanged between her husband and the victim, according to the affidavit.

When the girl’s mother asked her daughter about the texts, she said she had been “touched on her private parts,” KRIS TV reported.

Jalomos, who is free of jail on a $50,000 bond, is on paid leave pending the case’s outcome.

Editorial: Border Agents Need More Support to Avoid Communication Breakdowns

Border fence along Juarez-El Paso border/istock photo

The Arizona Republic

The badlands of southern Arizona are treacherous to the men and women we send to protect our national border with Mexico. The terrain is jagged, the sunlight scorching, and the place teems with drug traffickers, human smugglers and bandits.

Add to those threats one more. Darkness. The kind that comes when communication radios are useless because they cannot transmit or receive signals.

Throughout the border area, there are “dead spots” where radio contact can be lost and U.S. Border Patrol agents lose their lifeline to the outside world.

While we don’t know yet whether a dead spot was responsible, we do know that Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Ivie and two other agents lost radio contact the night he was killed by friendly fire on Oct. 2, about 6 miles east of Bisbee.

And we know dead spots are common on the U.S.-Mexican border because there are not enough repeater towers to boost signals.

To read more click here.

Defense Attorney Still Questions Whether FBI Agent’s Text Messages Were Destroyed: Govt. Says It Did Nothing Wrong

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
The legal battle between the defense and prosecution is heating up in an undercover FBI sting into gun trafficking in the Philippines.

The battle began when deputy Federal Defender John Littrell in Los Angeles accused a a California undercover FBI agent of using taxpayer dollars to pay for prostitutes in the Philippines for himself and targets of the sting. The agent, in court papers, adamantly denied the allegation.

Then Littrell filed a motion last month alleging that the government only saved incoming text messages the FBI agent received from the targets, but didn’t save the ones that the agent sent out to the targets. Littrelle suggested the government may have intentionally destroyed the texts, which might be of  help in proving entrapment.

The government in a document filed on Oct. 24, said  that the undercover phone, which was a pre-paid phone purchased in the Philippines, was not capable of saving outgoing messages the agent sent to the defendants.

The government also noted that another phone used by the agent was lost in a cab in the Philippines and was not recovered.

“The government acted in good faith at all times, and there is no reason to believe that the agents’ outgoing texts were exculpatory in any way, particularly in light of the very incriminating nature of the defendants’ email, text, and other communications to the agent,” the government wrote.

But on Thursday, defense attorney Littrell, who represents one of three defendants, Sergio Syjuco, wrote in a motion:

In its opposition, the government admits that the undercover agent failed to preserve any of the outgoing text messages he sent during the 18-month investigation in this case. The government’s excuse for the undercover agent’s failure to preserve his outgoing messages from September 2010 to May 2011 (the “first phone”) was that  he lost the phone in a taxi in Manila. Its excuse for the undercover agent’s failure to preserve his outgoing text messages from May 2011 to January 5, 2012 (the “second phone”), was that the “undercover phone did not save outgoing text messages, and they are “not available on the undercover telephone.” The government does not explain why messages are unavailable on the second phone, and it does not attach a declaration from the agent. It does not rule out the possibility that the undercover agent deliberately lost the first phone, or deleted the messages or altered the settings on the second phone to prevent it from saving outgoing texts. The government says only that “there were no messages in the “sent” box.” This explanation is not complete, and it is not convincing.

The fight continues. Stay tuned.

Family of Muslim Leader Shot Dead Challenges FBI’s Version of Raid

Luqman Ameen Abdullah

Steve Neavking
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — A Detroit Muslim leader was unarmed when authorities fatally shot him during a raid inside a suburban warehouse in 2009, the family of the man said in a lawsuit, a claim that’s totally contrary to what the FBI concluded,  the Detroit Free Press reports.

The suit filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit alleges an unarmed Imam Luqman Abdullah was shot 30 times as he tried to protect himself from a police dog, according to the Free Press.

The claims stem from the affidavit of Muhammad Abdul Salaam, a Detroit man who witnessed the raid and shooting.

“As Abdullah struggled to prevent the canine from attacking his face, and while Abdullah was on his back, the FBI agents began shooting at him,” Salaam said in his affidavit, the Free Press wrote. “Abdullah never pulled any weapon towards the canine or towards any of the FBI agents. At no time during that day did I see Abdullah carry a gun.”

In separate investigations, local, state and federal authorities concluded the federal agents broke no laws when they opened fire on Abdullah. They concluded that he opened fire on the dog as agents approached.

Halloweeen Posed Challenge to Border Authorities As Costumed Trick-Or-Treaters Cross Into U.S.

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Ghosts, zombies, witches and princesses.

The increasing number of wannabe trick-or-treaters who crossed the Mexican border into the U.S. on Halloween posed tricky challenges to custom inspectors, Fox News reports.

Customs and Border Protection has had the painstaking responsiblity of verifying the identify of costumed travelers making their way to El Paso for trick-or-treating. Although Mexican celebrate Halloween, trick-or-treating has not caught on, Fox News wrote.