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Archive for March, 2019

Let the Fun Begin: Mueller Report Handed to Attorney General William Barr

Special counsel Robert Mueller. Photo via FBI.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Finally it’s complete — the most anticipated report in Washington in many many years.

Multiple news outlets report that the long-anticipated Mueller report on Russian interference in the 2016 campaign is complete and has been handed off to Attorney General William Barr.

What comes next is anyone’s guess.

James Comey: I’m Not Rooting for Mueller to Show Trump is A Criminal

Former FBI Director James Comey on ABC’s 20/20.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Even before he was fired, it was clear to those in the know at the FBI that Director James Comey didn’t care for President Donald Trump. It became even more apparent after he was fired.

But with that being said, Comey writes in an Op-ed piece in the New York Times that he’s not rooting for Robert Mueller to show that President Donald Trump is a criminal.

He writes:

The country is eagerly awaiting the special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. Many people know what they want it to say — what they feel it simply must say — namely, that Donald Trump is a criminal who should be removed from office. Or that he is completely innocent of all wrongdoing.

But not everyone knows what it “must” say. Even though I believe Mr. Trump is morally unfit to be president of the United States, I’m not rooting for Mr. Mueller to demonstrate that he is a criminal. I’m also not rooting for Mr. Mueller to “clear” the president. I’m not rooting for anything at all, except that the special counsel be permitted to finish his work, charge whatever cases warrant charging and report on his work.

President Trump’s constant attacks on the special counsel, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department over the past two years raised the prospect that he would interfere to stop the special counsel’s work. It is deeply concerning that the president of the United States would try to protect himself by torching the institutions of justice. But he hasn’t used his authority to end Mr. Mueller’s work. (That would have been a crisis of a different order — shutting down the investigation, rather than just trying to undermine its credibility.) So we are in a position to wonder and hope about the report’s content.

Alan Dershowitz: I Want to Be Investigated by the FBI

Alan Dershowitz (Photo by Evan Wiener)

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

While most people would not prefer this, Attorney Alan Dershowitz says he wants to be investigated by the FBI.

In a column in the Wall Street Journal, he professes his innocence in wake of allegations that he sexually assaulted two females, including one who claims she was underage at the time.  He writes that he never met either one:

If you are accused of a crime, you are entitled to the presumption of innocence. But in the age of #MeToo, people accused of sexual misconduct are subjected, at least in the court of public opinion, to a presumption of guilt. Worse, a claim of innocence—even a provable one—is itself treated as an offense, an assault on the accuser and on “survivors” in general.

All three of us have filed sworn affidavits in federal court. These affidavits are in irreconcilable conflict: I have sworn that I never met either of them; they have both sworn that I engaged in sexual acts with them. Either I have committed perjury or they have…

There are some in the #MeToo movement for whom there is no such thing as innocence. Despite having proved I never even met my accuser, my appearances on college campuses have been greeted with protests accusing me of being part of a ‘rape culture.’ . . . Someone has committed a serious felony, a crime against America’s justice system.

ACLU Suing FBI to Obtain Surveillance Records on ‘Black Identity Extremists’

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The ACLU is locked in a battle with the FBI. It wants information about the bureau’s “Black Identity Extremists” program. It says the bureau is resisting, so it’s suing.

On the ACLU blog, Nusrat Choudhury, deputy Director  of the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program and Malkia Cyril, executive director for the Center for Media Justice,  write:

At a time when violence by white supremacists is on the rise, the FBI appears to be targeting Black people in a secret intelligence program concerning so-called “Black Identity Extremists”— an inflammatory term for a group that doesn’t even exist. The bureau’s practice echoes earlier, shameful government surveillance programs that sought to discredit civil rights and Black power activists who were critical to advancing racial equality — and it echoes modern-day spying that impacts immigrants and Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian (AMEMSA) communities.

That’s probably why the government doesn’t want us to get information about this program.  It is also why the ACLU and the Center for Media Justice are taking the FBI to court.

In August 2017, the FBI issued an intelligence assessment that designated “Black Identity Extremists Likely Motivated to Target Law Enforcement Officers” a new domestic terror threat. Disseminated to more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies, the intelligence assessment claims, without evidence, that Black people involved in unrelated police killings shared an ideology that motivated their actions. It also focuses on Black people who, in the bureau’s own words, “perceive[] racism and injustice in American society.”

The intelligence assessment is built on anti-Black racial stereotypes. It is so deeply flawed and of such “poor analytic quality” that even some law enforcement acknowledge that no group of so-called “Black Identity Extremists” even exists.

The intelligence assessment sparked an avalanche of concern from elected officials, Black activists, and Black-led organizations, including the Center for Media Justice and Color of Change. The dissemination of a racialized threat label to law enforcement nationwide holds the potential to spark baseless police harassment of Black activists who protest police and state violence. And we know that programs that diminish already weakened mechanisms for police accountability can lead to harm and death for Black people stopped by police. There are too many stories of Black men, women, and transgender people that underscore this truth.

In 2018, the Center for Media Justice and ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request for records to inform the public about how the “Black Identity Extremist” label is being used. Still, the FBI continues to keep critical information secret without any valid justification, and it has even refused to search for entire categories of records.

A Boston Secret Service Agent’s Road to Recovery After Paralysis

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Secret service agent Garrett Fitzgerald was paralyzed below the neck more than three years ago when a driver, high on heroin, crashed into his work vehicle.

Now, he’s going through intense physical therapy with hopes of one day returning to work. Thanks to some help from his friends, he’ll be part of the Boston Marathon.

Boston 25 News reports on the road to recovery.

Mob Experts Talk About the Gambino Boss Murder and More

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The hit on Gambino crime boss Frank Cali shook the mob the world. There was also some interesting news in the mob world out of Philly.

Mob experts George Anastasia and Dave Schratwieser discuss two big stories in their latest episode of Mob Talk Sitdown. Enjoy.

Security Guard Accused of Stealing ATF Guns is on the Lam

Christopher Lee Yates

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A security guard charged with stealing firearms and gun parts from an ATF storage facility in West Virginia is on the lam.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Trumble issued a bench warrant after Christopher Lee Yates of Martinsburg failed to appear at a preliminary hearing on Wednesday morning in federal court, The Trace reports.

Yates had been free on bond since March 6. He’s turned over his passport and, according to the conditions of his release, he was under curfew from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. every day, and was not allowed to leave the area, The Trace reports.

 

 

Irony of It All: Ex-DEA Official Now Paid to Advise one of the Largest Opiod Manufacturers in U.S.

Demetra Ashley (Linkedin photo)

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The irony of it all is not lost.

A former senior DEA who testified before Congress on the government’s efforts to stop the opioid epidemic is now paid to advise one of the largest opioid manufacturers in the country, Purdue Pharma, NBC News reports.

Demetra Ashley, the former acting assistant administrator of the DEA, left the agency last spring to start a consulting firm, Dashley Consulting, LLC.

In 2017,  she told a Senate committee about the need for a “robust regulatory program” to stop diversion of opioids and other controlled prescription drugs.

Purdue Pharma, the maker of the opioid painkiller OxyContin, is one of the opioid companies being sued by more than 1600 cities and counties for “grossly” misrepresenting “the risks of long-term use of those drugs for persons with chronic pain,” according to court documents, NBC reports.

Her Linkedin page says:

Demetra Ashley is a hands-on leader and advisor drawing on 30 years of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) experience to assist pharmacies, physicians, manufacturers, distributors, and other organizations working with controlled substances to navigate complexities and achieve full regulatory compliance.

A member of the Senior Executive Service, Demetra joined the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) 30+ years ago, and she built a career as a diversion investigator with the Washington D.C. and Chicago field offices. In her role as Acting Assistant Administrator of the Diversion Control Division, she coordinated and oversaw 1,700 employees in identifying, investigating, and stopping the diversion of legally produced controlled substances.

To minimize the diversion of prescription drugs, she influenced regulations, created programs, revamped training initiatives, redesigned procedures, and collaborated widely with government and law enforcement agencies, private organizations, and nongovernmental organizations. She also represented the Diversion Control Division to the media, public, and 1.7M registrants nationwide, and delivered briefings to Congress, White House Staff, and Attorney Generals on prescription opioid issues.