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Archive for January, 2014

Parker: A Follow Up to My Column On DEA’s Michele Leonhart Criticizing the President About Pot

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office. This column is a follow up to one he wrote praising DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart for criticizing President Obama’s remarks about marijuana.

Ross Parker

  
By  Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

In a fascinating coincidence I got two emails on the same day my column was published about the imbroglio over the DEA Administrator’s critical remarks regarding President Obama’s comments on the safety of marijuana. The first was a forward of an email sent out by Dan Riffle, Director of Federal Policies, Marijuana Policies Project, containing a call to arms to “Fire Michele Leonhart” by forwarding a petition to the President.

Riffle wrote:

The DEA has gone rogue. First, an agent describes marijuana regulation in Washington and Colorado as “reckless and irresponsible,” contrary to the president’s assertion that it’s “important for it to go forward.” Now, DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart has criticizedPresident Obama for, accurately, saying marijuana is no more harmful than alcohol to the consumer. In fact, the science says marijuana is dramatically safer than alcohol, for both the consumer and society.

It is unacceptable for our nation’s top drug cop to not understand the relative risks of America’s two most popular recreational drugs. That’s why we have started aChange.org petition calling on President Obama to fire Michele Leonhart and replace her with someone who will base decisions on science and evidence instead of politics and ideology.

A few minutes later I received a forwarded email of a medical journal article from LiveScience entitled “Marijuana Use During Pregnancy Affects Baby’s Brain.” The study by neuroscientists showed that THC interfered with the formation of connections between nerve cells in the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain responsible for higher thinking skills and forming memories.

The conclusions were not surprising since several other previous studies had reached similar conclusions.

 

New Head of Jacksonville FBI Office Was Never Discouraged by Gender

Michelle Klimt/FBI photo

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Michelle Klimt was eating dinner with her dad in the 1970s when he grumbled about women becoming FBI agents, the Florida Times-Union reported.

He was a special agent at the time. 

“And I sat there and said, ‘Hey dad, I can do what you do now.’ He never complained again and was very supportive of me,” Klimt told the Florida Times-Union.

Sure enough, Klimt not only became an agent, she became the first woman to lead the Jacksonville division seven months ago the Times-Union wrote.

FBI Investigates Bogus Miami Heat Tickets Following Expensive Scams

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The FBI is investigating the sale of bogus tickets for Miami Heat basketball games after a former NFL Hall of Fame player was scammed out of first-row seats and $200,000, WPTV.com reports.

Quarterback Warren Moon was reportedly scammed, along with other NFL players Charles Woodson and Jarvis Green.

The FBI confirmed it was investigating the sale of bogus tickets but wouldn’t elaborate.

Miami Heat is urging fans to be on the look out for scams.

Accountant-Turned-FBI Agent Becomes Oregon’s Next Top FBI Official

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Gregory T. Bretzing, a former accountant who joined the FBI in 1995, will become special agent in charge of Oregon’s FBI office, The Oregonian reports.

Bretzing, 47, will take over on March 31.

Bretzing, whose father was an FBI agent, served as inspector at the bureau’s Washington D.C. headquarters for the past 18 months.

Bretzing also supervised a joint terrorism task force in Salt Lake City.

Bretzing has five children.

Illegal Immigrants Have ‘Earned the Right to Be Citizens,’ DHS Secretary Says

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

About 11 million illegal immigration in the U.S. have “earned the right to be citizens,” said new Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

The Daily Mail reports that Johnson called for “comprehensive, common sense, immigration reform” during his speech at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington D.C.

“An earned path to citizenship for those currently present in this country is a matter of, in my view, homeland security to encourage people to come out from the shadows,” Johnson said.

He added: “To offer the opportunity to those who want to be citizens, who’ve earned the right to be citizens, who are present in this country – many of whom came here as children – to have the opportunity that we all have to try to become American citizens.”

 

Snowden Says U.S. Authorities Want to Kill Him After Their Anonymous Remarks in Media

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

NSA leaker Edward Snowden claimed Sunday that U.S. officials “want to kill me,” the Daily Mail reports.

In an interview with a German TV station, Snowden cited an anonymous Pentagon official quoted as saying, “I would love to put a bullet in his head.” An NSA analyst was quoted as saying he would kill Snowden.

The 30-year-old, who took refuge in Moscow to avoid treason charges, said he does not want to return to the U.S. because he wouldn’t receive a fair trial.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

 

Bravo to DEA’s Michele Leonhart for Criticizing the President’s Remarks About Pot

DEA's Michele Leonhart/dea photo

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart was apparently critical of President Obama’s recent remarks about marijuana in a closed-door session with the Major Counties’ Sheriff’s Association in Washington last week, according to an article in the Boston Herald on Saturday. She received a standing ovation.

Exactly what she said and how critical she was has not been made public. She expressed frustration over the administration’s response to legalization by Colorado and Washington primarily because of the mixed message that it sends to high school aged kids.

DEA spokesperson Dawn Deardon “clarified” the Administrator’s remarks by stating that they were not against the President. In other words, don’t fire her for expressing semi-privately what law enforcement officers are saying openly—that President Obama’s remarks were irresponsible and erroneous.

The President’s remarks were made to an interviewer for The New Yorker’s January 27 issue. He gave his opinion that marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol and even less so in terms of the health effects on an individual. He freely admitted smoking pot as a kid, a habit that was “not something that I encourage…a waste of time, and not very healthy.”

Setting aside the issue of the wisdom of the recreational use by adults, the problem with his gratuitous opinions especially for law enforcement observers and those who counsel teen agers is twofold. They contribute to the confusing chaos of the nation’s marijuana laws and their enforcement. And they send the message to American teens that smoking pot is no big deal. After all, if Obama did it regularly and grew up to be President, how harmful can it be?

The President’s favorable opinion on legalization in Colorado and Washington throws fuel on the fire of the inconsistent mess of America’s laws on the use and distribution of marijuana. Less than two decades ago it was illegal everywhere in all forms. In 1996 California legalized “medical marijuana” and 19 other states have followed suit.

Ten years ago “recreational” use of marijuana was illegal. Since then personal use decriminalizations have been instituted in Alaska, Massachusetts, Delaware, Rhode Island, Colorado and Washington. The legislation in the latter two states is particularly significant since it legalizes possession, distribution, and cultivation with some conditions. Moreover, proposed legislation, pushed by well funded lobbyists, is pending in more than a dozen states plus Congress to escalate this trend.

Meanwhile marijuana is illegal in all forms in the United States Code and is treated as a serious crime in many states.

The Attorney General announced last summer that DOJ would not challenge medical or recreational use state statutes but would continue to concentrate on large traffickers and demand reduction for children.

But this inconsistent dual enforcement federal system makes no sense to someone who has to make moral and practical decisions about their own conduct. It is even more problematic for prosecutors and law enforcement agents in doing their jobs. One federal agent from Los Angeles told me recently that the legalization trend and the uncertainty were seriously undermining public respect for the drug laws in general and those charged with enforcing them.

Then, too, there are the perplexing problems of jury nullification for front line prosecutors, plea and prosecution guidelines for U. S, Attorneys, sentence guidelines and imposition choices in particular cases for federal judges.

Perhaps more aggravating about the President’s seemingly offhand comments is the shrugging, luke warm advice that he gives to kids. Have you considered, Mr. President, that the highly potent weed today poses vastly greater hazards to kids than the 2% THC stuff that you smoked?

A lot of people in the field think that using today’s marijuana has the potential for reducing young users’ intellectual ability, robbing them of motivation, lowering their ability to concentrate, and aggravating emotional problems and mental conditions. Your tsk-tsking attitude undercuts the life’s work of teachers, parents, counselors, and health professionals.

And, for God’s sake, will some qualified person do a legitimate study to test his assertion that poor kids and children of color are suffering the unduly harsh penalties of jail as a result of petty marijuana offenses, i.e., those not connected with distribution and other crimes?

Assuming that was once the case, I have serious doubts that police and federal agents are doing that today. To the contrary, my impression is that they, along with drug courts and other professionals, are fighting an uphill battle to get treatment for the increasing number of users who need help. The upward trend in the hospital emergency room admissions supports the need for this kind of intervention. And more.

So, Mr. President, my kids think you are cool and pay attention to what you say. But, if you don’t mind, I would prefer that you not give them advice on why they shouldn’t smoke pot. It’s more than just a bad habit and a waste of time.

And Administrator Leonhart, bravo for some truth-telling. Have the courage of your convictions in a city where that is a rarity.

If it costs you your job after such a distinguished law enforcement career, you will always have the respect of thousands of us who admired you for standing up and saying what you believe.

Parker: Bravo to DEA’s Michele Leonhart for Criticizing the President’s Remarks About Pot

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office.

Ross Parker

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart was apparently critical of President Obama’s recent remarks about marijuana in a closed-door session with the Major Counties’ Sheriff’s Association in Washington last week, according to an article in the Boston Herald on Saturday. She received a standing ovation.

Exactly what she said and how critical she was has not been made public. She expressed frustration over the administration’s response to legalization by Colorado and Washington primarily because of the mixed message that it sends to high school aged kids.

DEA spokesperson Dawn Deardon “clarified” the Administrator’s remarks by stating that they were not against the President. In other words, don’t fire her for expressing semi-privately what law enforcement officers are saying openly—that President Obama’s remarks were irresponsible and erroneous.

The President’s remarks were made to an interviewer for The New Yorker’s January 27 issue. He gave his opinion that marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol and even less so in terms of the health effects on an individual. He freely admitted smoking pot as a kid, a habit that was “not something that I encourage…a waste of time, and not very healthy.”

Setting aside the issue of the wisdom of the recreational use by adults, the problem with his gratuitous opinions especially for law enforcement observers and those who counsel teen agers is twofold. They contribute to the confusing chaos of the nation’s marijuana laws and their enforcement. And they send the message to American teens that smoking pot is no big deal. After all, if Obama did it regularly and grew up to be President, how harmful can it be?

The President’s favorable opinion on legalization in Colorado and Washington throws fuel on the fire of the inconsistent mess of America’s laws on the use and distribution of marijuana. Less than two decades ago it was illegal everywhere in all forms. In 1996 California legalized “medical marijuana” and 19 other states have followed suit.

DEA's Michele Leonhart/dea photo

Ten years ago “recreational” use of marijuana was illegal. Since then personal use decriminalizations have been instituted in Alaska, Massachusetts, Delaware, Rhode Island, Colorado and Washington. The legislation in the latter two states is particularly significant since it legalizes possession, distribution, and cultivation with some conditions. Moreover, proposed legislation, pushed by well funded lobbyists, is pending in more than a dozen states plus Congress to escalate this trend.

Meanwhile marijuana is illegal in all forms in the United States Code and is treated as a serious crime in many states.

The Attorney General announced last summer that DOJ would not challenge medical or recreational use state statutes but would continue to concentrate on large traffickers and demand reduction for children.

But this inconsistent dual enforcement federal system makes no sense to someone who has to make moral and practical decisions about their own conduct. It is even more problematic for prosecutors and law enforcement agents in doing their jobs. One federal agent from Los Angeles told me recently that the legalization trend and the uncertainty were seriously undermining public respect for the drug laws in general and those charged with enforcing them.

Then, too, there are the perplexing problems of jury nullification for front line prosecutors, plea and prosecution guidelines for U. S, Attorneys, sentence guidelines and imposition choices in particular cases for federal judges.

Perhaps more aggravating about the President’s seemingly offhand comments is the shrugging, luke warm advice that he gives to kids. Have you considered, Mr. President, that the highly potent weed today poses vastly greater hazards to kids than the 2% THC stuff that you smoked?

A lot of people in the field think that using today’s marijuana has the potential for reducing young users’ intellectual ability, robbing them of motivation, lowering their ability to concentrate, and aggravating emotional problems and mental conditions. Your tsk-tsking attitude undercuts the life’s work of teachers, parents, counselors, and health professionals.

And, for God’s sake, will some qualified person do a legitimate study to test his assertion that poor kids and children of color are suffering the unduly harsh penalties of jail as a result of petty marijuana offenses, i.e., those not connected with distribution and other crimes?

Assuming that was once the case, I have serious doubts that police and federal agents are doing that today. To the contrary, my impression is that they, along with drug courts and other professionals, are fighting an uphill battle to get treatment for the increasing number of users who need help. The upward trend in the hospital emergency room admissions supports the need for this kind of intervention. And more.

So, Mr. President, my kids think you are cool and pay attention to what you say. But, if you don’t mind, I would prefer that you not give them advice on why they shouldn’t smoke pot. It’s more than just a bad habit and a waste of time.

And Administrator Leonhart, bravo for some truth-telling. Have the courage of your convictions in a city where that is a rarity.

If it costs you your job after such a distinguished law enforcement career, you will always have the respect of thousands of us who admired you for standing up and saying what you believe.