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Archive for September, 2013

Column: Homeland Security Exposes Constitutional Loop Hole to Conduct Searches

Dale McFeatters
The Eagle-Tribune

The Founding Fathers valued privacy enough to specify in the Fourth Amendment that the people had the right to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures unless a warrant was issued.

Among other items, they specified “papers.” In a rare moment of shortsightedness, they failed to specify laptops, cellphones and thumb drives. The feds, if they had any clue that these electronic devices might contain incriminating information, could of course go to court and obtain a warrant.

But the Department of Homeland Security has found a way around that constitutional technicality, as in the recent case of David House, who came to the feds’ attention for having raised funds for the defense of secrets-leaker Chelsea Manning, formerly Pfc. Bradley Manning. No telling what secrets House may have had, but it apparently wasn’t worth the hassle of going to court to find out.

Instead, according to the Associated Press: “U.S. agents quietly waited for months for House to leave the country, then seized his laptop, thumb drive, digital camera and cellphone when he re-entered the United States. They held his laptop for weeks before returning it, acknowledging one year later that House had committed no crime and promising to destroy copies the government made of House’s personal data.”

To read more click here.

Long-Serving Border Patrol Chief to Retire After 25 Years, Reflects on Advances

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com


Chief Enrique “Henry” Mendiola Jr., whose 25 year of service makes him one of the longest-serving agents of the Border Patrol RGV Sector, is retiring, ValleyCentral.com reports.

Mendiola was only 20 years old when he joined the Border Patrol in 1988.

“When I came in we were still doing ink fingerprints, we had no databases, not even computers,” Mendiola said.

A lot has changed since then. The number of agents has increased 500%, and apprehensions have declined, he told ValleyCentral.com.

“We have made a lot of progress.  Apprehensions are well under the million range where they were back then,” Mendiola said.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Families of 19 Homicide Victims Want to Speak Out During ‘Whitey’ Bulger Sentencing

Updated Bulger photo/wbur

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Although notorious mobster James “Whitey” Bulger was convicted of 11 murders, the victims of 19 homicide victims want to be heard during sentencing in November, The Boston Globe reports.

Bulger’s attorney, J.W. Carney Jr., initially considered opposing the request but acknowledged there’s not much he can do.

“Federal law permits family members of alleged victims to speak at sentencing, even if the government was unable to prove that the defendant was responsible for their loved ones’ death,” Carney told reporters outside the federal courthouse in Boston.

Each family speaker will be given 5 to 10 minutes to talk during sentencing.

Donald Trump Is Considering a Deal to Acquire FBI Headquarters in Washington D.C.

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump’s real estate empire may soon include the FBI’s headquarters in Washington D.C., the Washington Post reports.

Trump said he’s considering bidding on the J. Edgar Hoover Building for redevelopment. He already owns the building across the street, the Old Post Office Pavilion.

The FBI has been looking for developers and investors to acquire the hulking building in exchange for a newly built FBI headquarters in the region.

Trump said he’ll decide soon whether to bid.

“We’ll be watching the FBI as to what’s going to happen,” Trump told the Washington Post. “Whether or not we will bid on it, we may, we may not. Now if we do as good a job as we will do with [the Old Post Office], people may ask us about it.”

Homeland Security Tests Robotic Fish Designed to Sniff Out Contraband

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

It’s a like a drone for the ocean.

Homeland Security is testing a six-foot-long robotic fish that is designed to find contraband in a ship’s hull, The Rancher reports.

Equipped with sophisticated sensors, the BIOSwimmer is shaped like a tuna and highly maneuverable.

Serving as the launching ground for the robotic fish is a century-old battleship that saw two World Wars, The Rancher wrote.

“Texas Parks and Wildlife is pleased to make the Battleship TEXAS available to serve the nation in the interests of strengthening port security,” says Andy Smith, TPWD’s ship manager. “The tests underway this week will be instructive in the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to refine this innovative technology so it may be deployed to make our maritime environment safer. The Battleship TEXAS is showing us that you’re never too old to be of service to your country.”

Column: The Michigan Parole Board’s Crime Against “White Boy Rick”


Richard "White Boy Rick" Wershe Jr. as a teen and now.

By Allan Lengel
Deadline Detroit

DETROIT –– The criminal case against Richard “White Boy Rick” Wershe Jr. played out during the late 1980s, when he was a teenager and the drug-trade  in Detroit was so high-profile that some dealers were household names. He was convicted of cocaine trafficking.

Today, 26 years later, another crime is being committed, this time by the Michigan Parole Board: It’s keeping Wershe behind bars. No Boy Scout on the streets, Wershe trafficked cocaine. But 26 years in prison? That’s more than sufficient punishment, and more to the point, gravely unjust for someone convicted as a teen. Even a recent Supreme Court ruling surprisingly showed compassion for teens who commit murder, something Wershe has never been accused of.

For years now, FBI agents and federal prosecutors — and even Kid Rock — have pushed for Wershe’s release. They have stepped forward because Wershe, now 44, helped the feds put away plenty dope dealers, and played a critical role in setting up a sting in the early 1990s that nabbed crooked Detroit and suburban cops, along with Mayor Coleman Young’s common-law brother-in-law, Willie Volsan.

But some local law enforcement types — including some who really had no clue as to Wershe’s activities on the streets– came to his parole hearing in 2003 and successfully torpedoed his chance for freedom, painting him as a far bigger player in the dope game than he actually was, and blaming him for playing a major role in destroying the moral fabric of Detroit. One of the Detroit detectives who testified against Wershe was later charged with drug trafficking and mortgage fraud.

“I think it’s ridiculous what we’ve done,” Robert S. Aguirre, a former member of the state parole board, said of Wershe’s 2 1/2 decades of imprisonment. “It’s wrong.”

Aguirre is the latest to join in the “Free Wershe” campaign. He served on the state parole board from 2009 to 2011 and previously worked as a Flint cop and Genesee County sheriff’s deputy, then ran a community corrections program in Lapeer County.

While sitting on the parole board, Aguirre took an interest in the Wershe case and pushed for a parole hearing. But he wasn’t able to muster up enough votes to get one. He said Wershe’s reputation had far surpassed reality, and that hurt him

He says “White Boy Rick” was “synonymous with everything bad in the mid-1980s.

“He was just a kid,” Aguirre said.

Gregg Schwarz, a retired FBI agent who worked Detroit drug cases in the 1980s and has been pushing for years for Wershe’s release, echoes similar sentiments: “This is a kid who tried to become a big deal but he never made it. He didn’t have anyone working for him.

“Now the parole board says he might still be a danger to society. Based on what? Was he ever arrested with a gun? No. Did he ever kill anybody? No. Did he ever assist the FBI and other local agencies? Yes.”

To read the full story click here.

 

FBI Director James Comey Added to Revised NSA Surveillance Lawsuit

James Comey

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A lawsuit alleging that the National Security Agency violated the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens now includes claims against new FBI Director James Comey, Bloomberg reports.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed the original lawsuit in July, alleges the NSA, with the help of the Justice Department and FBI, surreptitiously collected information about “all telephone calls transiting the networks of all major telecommunication companies.”

Comey was added to the suit as a defendant.

The DOJ declined to comment on the amended complaint.

The lawsuit, First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. National Security Agency, was filed in federal court in San Francisco.

FBI Agent Who Lectured Sports Teams about Drugs Dies at 67

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

James A. McIntosh was not just any lecturer.

The 6-foot-7 FBI agent was a basketball standout at Villanova University and considered a role model for many of the younger athletes he spoke to about the evils of drugs, the Philadelphia Daily News reports.

McIntosh died on June 29 after a battle with prostate cancer. He was 67.

McIntosh also held drug seminars for pro and college athletes, meeting with almost every team in the NFL and NBA.

McIntosh spent most of his career with the FBI working with the Philadelphia division, the Daily News reported.