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Archive for June, 2013

B. Todd Jones Steps Up to the Plate and Faces Tough Questions in Confirmation Process

Todd Jones

 
By Sari Horwitz and Ed O’Keefe
The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — The national debate over gun control has died down, but there were moments of high tension Tuesday as the Senate began considering the appointment of a director to the federal agency that regulates firearms and investigates gun and explosives crimes.

The Judiciary Committee finally held a confirmation hearing for B. Todd Jones, the part-time acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who also serves as the U.S. attorney for Minnesota. ATF has not had a full-time director in seven years; President Obama nominated Jones to head the agency five months ago as part of his guns initiative after the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn.

The confirmation hearing came the same week that gun-control advocates, including parents of children killed in Newtown, are pushing lawmakers to reconsider Obama’s stalled legislative package, particularly the bill expanding background checks for firearm purchases. Senate Democratic aides said there are no imminent plans to revive the bill or other elements.

Prospects for Jones also appeared dim as the crowded hearing got off to a fiery start.

To read the full story click here. 

Internet Companies Call For More Disclosure of Surveillance

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Microsoft, Twitter, Google and Facebook are calling for more disclosure of secret requests to hand over date of users, The Guardian reports.

“Permitting greater transparency on the aggregate volume and scope of national security requests, including Fisa orders, would help the community understand and debate these important issues,” Microsoft said in an emailed statement.

The federal government issues national security letters to demand access to computer data.

It’s currently against the law to disclose how many secret requests were turned over under the controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Two Virginia Friends Accused of Stealing FBI-Issued Machine Gun from Trunk

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Two Virginia friends thought it would be fun to test out a machine gun they are accused of stealing from the trunk of an FBI agent in Alexandria, The Washington Examiner reports.

Jonathan Cowden, 26, a security guard and Nate Whilden, a music instructor, face up to 10 years in prison on charges of possessing a machine gun.

Whilden is accused of breaking into the FBI sedan and stealing a black bag that contained an agency-issued Heckler and Koch MP5/10mm machine gun and body armor marked with the bureau’s letters.

“Oh, crap, what did I do,” Whilden is accused of saying after becoming aware he had stolen an FBI machine gun, The Washington Examiner reported.

Cowden is described as an “avid collector of exotic guns.”

 OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Richard DesLauriers, Head of Boston FBI, Announces He’s Retiring And Joining Private Sector

Richard DesLauriers

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Richard DesLauriers, who has led the Boston FBI office since July 2010, announced he’s retiring from the bureau and taking a job in the private sector, The Boston Globe reports.

DesLauriers, who most recently led the response to the Boston Marathon bombings, will retire effective July 13 as he prepares to take a job as vice-president corporate security with Penske Group, a suburban Detroit transportation company, the Globe reported.

DesLauriers also is known for helping capture mobster James “Whitey” Bulger.

“I think it’s been a very eventful three years,” he said. “We’ve had some tremendous accomplishments.”

 

Long-Awaited Trial of James ‘Whitey’ Bulger Begins Today in Boston Courtroom

Updated Bulger photo/wbur

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Opening statements begin today in the long-anticipated trial of James “Whitey” Bulger, who is accused of murder, racketeering, extortion, money laundering, gun stockpiling and drug dealing.

Before his arrest, Bulger was so notorious that he shared the top spot on the FBI’s most-wanted list with terrorist Osama bin Laden, The New York Times reports.

A jury was sworn in Tuesday from a pool of 858 candidates, The Times reported.

Bulger also happened to be a long-time FBI informant.

British Newspaper to Generate More Stories About Surveillance Breaches from NSA Whistleblower

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A reporter involved with exposing the federal government’s massive surveillance programs said more “significant revelations” are ahead, Fox News reports.

The Guardian writer Glenn Greenwald said the British newspaper will be releasing stories based on documents from 29-year-old former government contractor, Edward Snowden, who faces decades in prison.

“We are going to have a lot more significant revelations that have not yet been heard over the next several weeks and months,” Greenwald said.

He estimates dozens of stories could be written based on the documents.

FBI Probes Source of Weapons Used by Gunman Who Killed 5 in Santa Monica

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

One big mystery behind the gunman who killed five people in Santa Monica is how he got his weapons.

Federal authorities recovered two weapons from John Zawahri – a semiautomatic rifle and an old “black-powder handgun,” The Los Angeles Times reports.

Authorities also are trying determine how he amassed a large collection of ammunition.

“We’ve been at his house, going through his computer too,” said the official, who requested anonymity because the case was ongoing.

The L.A. Times reported that Zawahri has a history of mental illness.

Pennsylvania Justice Under FBI Probe Over Wife’s Referral Fees Involving Law Firms

 Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Seamus P. McCaffery is the target of an FBI investigation involving referral fees received by his wife, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

His wife and chief aide, Lise Rapaport, received 19 referral fees for connecting clients with personal-injury law firms, the Inquirer reported.

One of those fees was for $821,000 after a lawsuit was settled in a medical-malpractice case, the Inquirer wrote.

An attorney for the couple declined there was a federal investigation.

“You’re indulging rumors without any facts,” the attorney, Dion G. Rassias, told the Inquirer.