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Archive for June 9th, 2015

Stejskal: FBI’s Use of ‘Unmarked Planes’ Is Nothing New, Not to Mention Legal

Greg Stejskal served as an FBI agent for 31 years and retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office.

Greg Stejskal

 
By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

The Associated Press reported about a week ago that the FBI was using “unmarked planes” to conduct surveillances and other activities.This is not breaking news.

The FBI since at least the 70s has used “unmarked” planes to help conduct surveillances among other things. In the 70s, the FBI began establishing dedicated surveillance squads. These squads were used primarily to conduct surveillances of organized crime subjects, but also utilized in other investigations such as espionage, terrorism and kidnappings.

To keep the surveillance squads and their activities secret, offsite locations (away from FBI offices) were procured using fictitious business fronts, the vehicles used did not look like police cars and were registered to fictitious businesses. (This was necessary in some investigations because police were known to be cooperating with the bad guys.) The agents assigned to the squads wore “street clothes” and were allowed to be lax, by Bureau standards, in their grooming.

It became clear that there were situations where aircraft could be helpful in conducting surveillances. In fact there were situations when surveillances were impossible without the aid of aircraft such as watching a ransom drop-site in the middle of open country. The same procedures were used for the aircraft as were used for FBI vehicles – they were registered to fictitious entities and the pilots did not identify themselves as agents.

The use of “unmarked” aircraft has continued and is considered legitimate and legal investigative tool. If aircraft are used to help monitor wiretaps, etc., as the AP has reported, they do so pursuant to court orders and with the knowledge of the courts.

In the interest of full disclosure, the FBI has also used “unmarked” boats for various surreptitious activities. An “unmarked” yacht was used to entertain some of the subjects in the ABSCAM investigation.

Homeland Security’s Jeh Johnson: Illegal Immigration Drops to Lowest in Decades

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A year after a surge in illegal immigrant children and their families trying to cross the U.S. border, illegal immigration is on pace to be the lowest this year than any year since 1972, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Monday, the Washington Times reports.

Johnson stopped short of saying whether the trend would continue but said he was encouraged.

“The bottom line of all this is, in recent years the total number of those who attempt to illegally cross our southwest border has declined dramatically, while the percentage of those who are apprehended has gone up,” the secretary said at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. “Put simply, it’s now much harder to cross our border illegally and evade capture than it used to be — and people know that.”

During the first eight months of the fiscal year, Border Patrol captured 213,145 immigrants at the border, a decline of 34% from the same point in 2014.

Senator Joins Critics Calling for ATF to Be Rolled into Another Agency

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

At least one U.S. senator says the time has come to end the ATF and absorb it into other law enforcement agencies.

Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming, wrote a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, calling for the ATF to be disbanded if it can’t be adequately reformed.

“As you know, the ATF is one of several federal law enforcement components and has been subject to several recent controversies…Given the ATF’s serious challenges, I believe the Senate should examine these proposals and take action to correct the failures of the ATF,” Enzi wrote.

The senator is among a growing chorus of critics calling for the ATF to be transferred to another agency.

To read the letter, click here. 

Other Stories of Interest


Famous San Francisco Activist, Black Panther Was FBI Informant

Richard Masato Aoki

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Richard Masato Aoki, widely considered a hero among activists and liberal political groups in the San Francisco area, was an FBI informant who filed more than 500 reports about activists with the bureau.

The Mercury News reports that newly revealed FBI documents show for the first time the extent that Aoki was a government informant.

Aoki was trusted in the activist community, especially among Black Panthers. But FBI records show that Aoki provided “top level” information the Black Panthers and their leaders, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale.

What’s unclear is whether the FBI knew Aoki was providing guns to the Black Panthers.

” If the FBI knew Aoki was arming the Panthers, or was involved in that, it would raise questions about whether the bureau was attempting to foment violence that would discredit the Panthers or set them up for a police crackdown,” the Mercury News wrote.

Aoki committed suicide in his Berkeley home in 2009.

Kansas Man Pleads Guilty to Trying to Blow Up Bomb at Airport

Terry Lee Loewen

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Kansas man pleaded guilty Monday to attempting to detonate a card bomb at the Wichita airport.

Terry Lee Loewen, 59, caught the attention of authorities on social media after he began expressing support for violent jihad.

He pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.

Authorities arrested Loewen in December 2013 after he entered Wichita Mid-Continental Airport.

“Terry Loewen utilized his privileged airport access to attempt a terrorist attack in Wichita,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “Detecting, disrupting and holding accountable those who wish to harm Americans remains our highest priority.”

Loewen began meeting with an FBI informant who posed as an extremists.

Octogenarian Mobster In Lufthansa Heist Case Is One Of A Kind

Jerry Capeci is considered an expert on the mob. He is the founder of the website, Gang Land News, a paid subscription site.  This article was republished with permission.
 
By Jerry Capeci
Gang Land News

Bonanno capo Vincent Asaro has a lot of firsts on his Mafia resume. The 80-year-old Queens man is a third generation mobster, having followed his father and grandfather into the mob. He added yet another generation when he sponsored his son to be a “made man.” He is also the only wiseguy ever charged with taking part in one of Gang Land’s most famous crimes, the storied $6 million Lufthansa Airlines heist. A former heroin addict, Asarokicked the habit “cold turkey” in the 1950s. He also kicked some ass. After a group of men abused his old man, he used his fists to pummel them, one at a time, while a cohort held the rest of the crowd at bay with a firearm.

Those are some of the high — or low — lights of Asaro’s career according to a trio of federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, who want to keep him behind bars for how ever many years he has left. That’s where he’s been for the past 16 months as he awaits trial for the daring pre-dawn Kennedy Airport robbery in 1978, as well as for a 1969 murder.

Last week, prosecutors asked Judge Alynne Ross to let them use evidence about Asaro’s “heroin use, illegal gambling and borrowing money” at his upcoming trial. They say that is “necessary to complete the story of the charged crimes” for the jurors who will have to decide whether Asaro is

guilty of murder and a slew of other crimes in what they describe as a 45-year-long racketeering conspiracy.

The prosecutors say they have “many witnesses” prepared to testify how Asaro “evolved from a teenage heroin addict into a mastermind of the Lufthansa Heist.”

The witnesses would describe a “powerful but broke mafia leader,” one who substituted one addiction for another by blowing all the money he made during his life of crime by “gambling, both illegal and legal, to anextreme degree.”

He is not the first mobster to become addicted to heroin, but Asaro, who was on a three-member Bonanno family ruling panel in 2012, is the first known ex-junkie to serve as an Administration member of one of the notorious Five Families.

“The defendant’s story is one of redemption and loss,” prosecutors Nicole Argentieri, Alicyn Cooley and Lindsay Gerdes wrote. “Witnesses are expected to testify regarding the defendant’s drug addiction and how he apparently beat it ‘cold turkey’ so that he could join the Asaros’ ranks of mafia soldiers. In addition, (they) are expected to testify that (Asaro) at one point was demoted from the rank of captain due to, among other things, his repeated appropriation of money from the individuals assigned to him in order to feed his gambling addiction.”

In the 1960s, after he kicked his heroin habit, Asaro “earned respect from the mafia for being an earner,” by taking part in “robberies, the sale of stolen goods and loansharking,” prosecutors wrote. In that decade, his father Jerome schooled him, and introduced him to James (Jimmy the Gent) Burke, the murderous Luchese gangster who is the recognized mastermind of the heist, they wrote.

In a voluminous 72-page filing, the prosecutors write that testimony by six cooperating witnesses will directly link Asaro’s heroin addiction and his obsessive gambling losses to his guilt of many charged crimes in the indictment, particularly the Lufthansa robbery.

“Many cooperating witnesses and civilian witnesses with personal knowledge of the defendant are expected to testify that the defendant struggled with heroin addiction as a teenager and into his twenties,” wrote prosecutors Argentieri, Cooley and Gerdes.

Among those prepared to testify about the Bonanno veteran are Asaro’s cousin Gaspar (Gary) Valenti, 68, who says he took part in the Lufthansa heist with Burke, as well as a second witness, former Gambino associate Anthony Ruggiano Jr., 61, who would detail Asaro’s heroin use — as well as his compulsive gambling, the prosecutors wrote.

Read more »