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Archive for August, 2013

Reporter in Washington D.C. Learns FBI Was Monitoring His Calls to Disgraced D.C. Councilman

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

A tenacious reporter who covers urban affairs and the D.C. Council received a troubling email from the U.S. Attorney’s Office: His voice was picked up after agents tapped the cell phones of now-disgraced Councilman Michael Brown, WUSA9 reports.

“I’m not going to be surprised if I call someone at some point in the near future and they say ‘I can’t talk to you because the FBI might be listening,'” reporter Bruce Johnson told the news station, where he works. “Bottom line, of course it’s unsettling when you get a call saying the FBI has heard part of your conversation in the course of you doing your job.”

Here’s a statement from the US Attorney’s Office:

“As has been widely reported, during the investigation which led to former Council Member Michael A. Brown’s conviction on a bribery charge, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia authorized the interception of wire and electronic communications on two cell phones used by Mr. Brown during the relevant time period.

“Thus, some communications between Mr. Brown and individuals not otherwise connected to the government’s investigation were intercepted. Significantly, law enforcement utilized procedures to minimize and reduce to the smallest possible number the amount of innocent and non-pertinent communications that were intercepted between individuals and the target of its investigations.

“The government, as it does in all of its Title III investigations, recently provided notice to individuals who were named in the court orders authorizing interceptions or whose communications with Mr. Brown were intercepted during the course of its investigation. The contents of those intercepted communications will remain sealed, will not be used for any other purpose, and are not anticipated to result in any additional charges against Mr. Brown or anyone else.”

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Writer William Vollmann Says FBI Suspected Him of Being Unabomber, Terrorist

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Few authors write with as much insight into violence and war as William Vollmann.

The winner of a National Book Award, Vollmann revealed in a Harper’s essay, “Life as a Terrorist,” that he was suspected of being a terrorist and even the Unabomber because of the content of his fiction, the Washington Post writes.

In the September issue of Harper’s magazine, Vollmann reveals the outrageous contents of his 785-page secret government file – 300 pages of which were obtained by suing the FBI and CIA.

“I begin to see how government haters are made,” he writes.

Vollmann discovered that he was investigated for ties to terrorism and was even suspected of being the Unabomber.

“Once you’re a suspect and you’re in the system, that ain’t goin’ away.  … Anytime there’s a terrorist investigation, your name’s gonna come up,” Vollmann wrote.

FBI, NSA Monitored Emails, Texts in Salt Lake City Area During Winter Olympics in 2002

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The FBI and NSA monitored all emails and text messages in the Salt Lake City area in 2002 when the city was hosting the Winter Olympics, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

Unnamed officials said the two agencies worked with Qwest Communications to intercept communications for nearly six months.

Former Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, said he wasn’t aware of the surveillance but said it’s to be expected.

“If they were not intercepting text messages then they were not doing their jobs at the center of world attention,” Bennett said. “Sure they were. I just assumed that they were.”

The Olympics came just five months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Fourth Man Admits Involvement in Slaying of Border Patrol Agent Over Night-Vision Goggles

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

A Mexican national admitted Wednesday that he and two other gunman were involved in the 2009 murder of a U.S. Border Patrol agent in southern California, CNN reports.

Marcos Rodriguez-Perez pleaded guilty to conspiracy, robbery and firearm charges, saying he and two others detained Border Patrol Agent Robert Rosas Jr. at gunpoint.

The reason – they wanted his night-vision goggles.

Rosas was shot multiple times as he struggled, according to the plea agreement.

The suspects fled to Mexico with the agent’s bag, firearm, handcuffs, and goggles. CNN wrote.

Parents Awarded $3M in Wrongful Death Suit in Son’s Death at Hands of DEA

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The parents of an 18-year-old honor student who was shot and killed by plainclothes DEA agents in a state of confusion in southern California were awarded $3 million in a wrongful death lawsuit, the Los Angeles Times reports.

U.S. District Judge Michael Fitzgerald ruled that the DEA agents were not negligent in their actions but should not have fired their weapons at Zachary Champommier’s car because it was unlikely to improve the situation.

Family members described Zachary as a harmless “band geek” who would never intentionally hurt law enforcement, the LA Times wrote.

The shooting occurred while Champommier arrived at the Studio City parking lot to meet a friend. When he saw the people detaining his friend, he hit a sheriff’s deputy with his car.

According to the suit, Champommier “had no way of knowing that these were law enforcement officers rather than criminal thugs,” and he drove his car to “escape the danger.”

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Veteran Special Agent in FBI to Head N.C. Department of Public Safety

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Frank Perry, who served 22 years as a special agent for the FBI, was named as secretary of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, Triangle Business Journal writes.

Gov. Pat McCrory made the appointment after Perry began serving as the department’s interim secretary earlier this month.

“Frank Perry has dedicated his life to public safety, primarily through his distinguished FBI career,” McCrory said in an announcement. “He brings a wealth of real-world experience to the helm of DPS in addition to his dedication to public service.”

Perry is a North Carolina graduate who was completing doctoral work on ethics and political philosophy when he was recruited by the FBI, according to the Triangle Business Journal.

Author Elmore Leonard Created a U.S. Marshal Who Will Live On

 

Elmore Leonard signing 'Raylan' book, Jan. 2012/Photo by Alan Stamm

Alan Stamm
ticklethewire.com

 BIRMINGHAM, Mich. — Elmore Leonard, the acclaimed crime novelist who died Tuesday morning, imagined characters who behave and sound like believable law breakers and law enforcers.

His best-known plot stars include Raylan Givens, a deputy U.S. marshal on page and screen.

Leonard, who died at 87 in his suburban Detroit home from complications of a stroke he suffered a few weeks back,  was working on a book called “Blue Dreams” that would have been his 46th. “He was going to bring the character Raylan Givens into it,” son Peter Leonard tells Susan Whitall of The Detroit News.

Leonard introduced that federal marshal in “Pronto,” a 1993 book, and brought him back two years later in “Riding the Rap” and in a 60-page novella issued in 2011 as “Fire in the Hole.”

In “Justified,” a FX cable series that began in 2010 and returns next January, Timothy Olyphant portrays the tough lawman enforcing a beyond-regulations style of justice in eastern Kentucky’s hill country around Harlan.

When a real-life parole violator was arrested there last March, one headline said: Life Imitates Art, ‘Justified’ Edition: U.S. Marshals Hunt Down Fugitive in Harlan County.

But how closely does Leonard’s fictional marshal resemble the real deal?

In an effort to find out, a Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter last year watched the show’s pilot episode with second-generation Deputy U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott, who joined the service in 1987 and has been U.S. marshal for the Northern District of Ohio since 2003.

Until local journalist Mark Dawidziak popped in a DVD at Elliott’s federal courthouse office, he hadn’t seen “the heroic deputy marshal created by esteemed novelist and screenwriter Elmore Leonard.”

The actual badge-wearer admired the pilot’s realistic setup, which had Given assigned to Lexington, Ky., and being told he’d take on all kinds of assignments.

“Small offices tend to have less manpower, so that would be the case,” he says. “In a smaller office, a deputy marshal could be asked to do a little bit of everything: working warrants, prisoner transportation, witness relocation, fugitive task force. And it’s not uncommon for someone to be assigned to an area where they grew up. We’re one of the law enforcement agencies that will do that. And I think that’s a good thing.”

Elliott also was impressed by an offhand mention of Glynco, commenting: “That’s our training academy in Georgia. That’s right. Somebody did some research.”

Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens in "Justified"

Similarly, he gave a thumb-up to actor Olyphant’s generally casual wardrobe:

“You dress appropriately for court, but, if you’re apprehending fugitives and jumping fences, you’re in jeans.”

But overall, the Cleveland marshal found more unrealistic touches than accurate ones – starting with Givens’ frequent weapon use.

“I’ve never had to fire my gun in the line of duty. It does happen, of course, but every time a weapon is discharged, reports need to be filled out. With the amount of gunfire in this show, Raylan would be up to his ying-yang in paperwork. That’s all he’d be doing. . . .

“I know they want him to be a Lone Ranger type of hero with a lot of Clint Eastwood and John Wayne stuff. It’s not a bad show. It’s just not very representative of what we do.”

Raylan Givens’ creator was a show consultant, though dramatic script flourishes aren’t his.

The vivid characters and crackling dialogue Elmore Leonard put between book covers seemed so real that criminals “write to me and want to know if I’ve done time,” the author told Vice magazine in 2009.

That level of realism flowed partly from reading and other research, and mainly from an imaginative talent that assures his work will endure.

 

Facial Scanning Is Making Gains in Surveillance

By CHARLIE SAVAGE
New York Times

WASHINGTON — The federal government is making progress on developing a surveillance system that would pair computers with video cameras to scan crowds and automatically identify people by their faces, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with researchers working on the project.

The Department of Homeland Security tested a crowd-scanning project called the Biometric Optical Surveillance System — or BOSS — last fall after two years of government-financed development.

Although the system is not ready for use, researchers say they are making significant advances. That alarms privacy advocates, who say that now is the time for the government to establish oversight rules and limits on how it will someday be used.

To read more click here.