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Archive for June, 2020

Ex-U.S. Attorney Roscoe Howard Jr.: ‘This Is Not the Day or Time to Be Quiet’ After the Death of George Floyd

The author was U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C. from 2001 to 2004. He is currently a partner at the firm, Barnes & Thornburg LLP.

By Roscoe C. Howard Jr.

Roscoe Howard Jr.

When I was growing up in ‘50’s and early 60’s, I visited my Mother’s home town in the Northern Neck of Virginia, and sat around while the adults discussed other family members and indulged in shell and fish foods that came from the nearby Rappahannock River.

As a child it would shock me to learn that African Americans from the area had been lynched in recent times. It was hard for me to even comprehend a violent death, but it was just as hard to understand how calmly it would be discussed by relatives and neighbors in that small Virginia town. My extended family seemed to be numb to the fact that such a murder was common place. I, on the other hand, thought I would never recover from hearing the stories.

Now, I don’t have to hear the stories because I read them. I think I would be derelict to not discuss the tragic event in Minneapolis, where forty six year old African American was pinned to the ground by a white Minneapolis police officer who put his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck in an effort to detain him.

George Floyd.

Despite audible pleas, the officer did not relent, choked him and directly caused Mr. Floyd’s death. At my age I am becoming numb to news of African American joggers killed in Brusnwick, Georgia, to a young African American man being shot during a police encounter outside of St. Louis, to the countless other senseless killings of young African American men when confronted by white law enforcement officers or those who think that they are.

It is not an apology or money that any parent, friend or concerned citizen of these victims want. What we all want is for it to stop. I feel like my relatives on those summer evenings in Northern Neck of Virginia where I was so many years ago – I am numb. But, I am the father of two young African American men, so I feel compelled to bring this to our collective attention.

Silence No Longer 

This is not the day or time to be quiet. I would ask of all of us to have the courage and conviction to speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves. I ask you not to countenance this outrage when it is senselessly defended by those who believe these young men bring this kind of abuse and death on themselves. I ask that you help make sure that no other African American mother outlives her son because of this sort of unjustified violence visited upon him.

I ask that in any way you can try to be that voice. In any way you can help the moral arc of the universe, although long, bend toward justice. In any way you can help a man like me recover from the nightmares of the stories I heard all those many summers ago.

Appeals Court to Consider DOJ’s Order to Dismiss Criminal Case Against Michael Flynn

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A federal appeals court in Washington D.C. will consider the Justice Department’s order to dismiss the criminal case against Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser who previously pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

Flynn and the Justice Department are calling on the appeals court to compel U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan to dismiss the case and force the judge to cease examining the DOJ’s decision to drop charges against Flynn, The Washington Post reports.

Last month, Sullivan gave outside parties an opportunity to weigh in on the Justice Department’s unusual request.

Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with a Russian diplomat and even cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into ties between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign.

The Justice Department’s unusual decision to request the dismissal of the case has drawn fierce criticism of Attorney General William Barr. In May, nearly 2,000 former Justice Department employees on Monday urged Attorney General William Barr to resign in an open letter that says he “once against assaulted the rule of law” when he intervened in Flynn’s case.

Ex-DEA Spokesman Pleads Guilty to Posing As CIA Operative in Elaborate $4 Million Fraud Scheme

Garrison Courtney

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A former DEA spokesman is facing up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty Thursday to posing as an undercover CIA operative to defraud government contractors out of more than $4 million.

Garrison Kenneth Courtney, who served as a DEA spokesman between 2005 and 2009, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Virginia said.

Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 23.

Prosecutors said the 40-year-old Florida resident posed as a covert CIA officer serving on a highly classified task force, whose mission was to enhance the intelligence-gathering capabilities of the U.S. government.

No such task force existed, and Courtney had never worked for the CIA, prosecutors said.

“Courtney went to extraordinary lengths to perpetuate the illusion that he was a deep-cover operative. Among other things, he falsely claimed that his identity and large portions of his conduct were classified; directed victims and witnesses to sign fake nondisclosure agreements that purported to be from the United States government and that forbade anyone involved from speaking openly about the supposedly classified program; told victims and witnesses that they were under surveillance by hostile foreign intelligence services; made a show of searching people for electronic devices as part of his supposed counterintelligence methods; demanded that his victims meet in sensitive compartmented information facilities (SCIFs) to create the illusion that they were participating in a classified intelligence operation; and repeatedly threatened anyone who questioned his legitimacy with revocation of their security clearance and criminal prosecution if they ‘leaked’ or continued to look into the supposedly classified information,” federal prosecutors said in a news release. “Courtney further created fake letters, purporting to have been issued by the Attorney General of the United States, which claimed to grant blanket immunity to those who participated in the supposedly classified program.”

As part of the scheme, Courtney convinced several public officials that he was a CIA operative and told them they had been chosen to participate in the program, using “those officials as unwitting props falsely to burnish his legitimacy,” prosecutors said. The government officials unwittingly repeated those claims to the companies, giving his scheme an air of legitimacy.

The investigation was carried out by multiple law enforcement agencies.

White Supremacist, Racist Groups Pose Greatest Threat of Protest-Related Violence, Intelligence Briefing Warns

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

White supremacists and other domestic racist groups pose the greatest threat of protest-related violence, a new federal intelligence bulletins warns.

The document, issued by the FBI, Homeland Security and National Counterterrorism Center, undermines President Trump’s rhetoric that antifa and anarchists groups are the primary threats, ABC News reports.

“Based upon current information, we assess the greatest threat of lethal violence continues to emanate from lone offenders with racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist ideologies and [domestic violent extremists] with personalized ideologies,” the bulletin states.

The bulletin, titled “Domestic Violent Extremists Could Exploit Current Events to Incite or Justify Attacks on Law Enforcement or Civilians Engaged in First Amendment-Protected Activities,” was sent to law enforcement across the country.

The bulletin asserts that would-be domestic terrorists “including militia extremists and [groups] who advocate a belief in the superiority of the white race have sought to bring about a second civil war, often referred to as a ‘Boogaloo’ by intentionally instigating violence at First Amendment-protected activities. Racially charged events, coupled with the accompanying widespread media attention, and the rapid dissemination of violent online rhetoric by [extremists], are likely to remain contributing factors to potentially ideologically motivated violence.”

Brian Benczkowski, head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, to Step Down

Brian Benczkowski, head of the Justice Department’s criminal division.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Brian Benczkowski, head of the Justice Department’s criminal division, plans to step down next month, he announced in an email to staff Wednesday.

Brian Rabbitt, a former White House lawyer and chief of staff to Attorney General William P. Barr, will replace him, The Washington Post reports.

“It truly has been the honor of my professional career to serve at the department once again, and to lead the men and women of the Criminal Division,” Benczkowski wrote in the statement announcing his departure. “Their work ethic and steadfast commitment to the cause of justice, the rule of law, and vindicating the rights of victims, have inspired me every day.”

Benczkowski has not said what he plans to do next after his July 3 departure.

“The decision to leave is my own and has been in the works for some time,” Benczkowski wrote. “It is part of a long-planned transition that began late last year, when the Attorney General asked each Assistant Attorney General to begin preparing for the coming year. At that time, I told Attorney General Barr that I intended to remain in my position until the summer of this year, and he graciously agreed to that timetable.”

Barr said Benczkowski had “served the Department with distinction.”

“This was his sixth senior leadership role at Justice, and the entire Department benefited from his managerial expertise, institutional knowledge, and sound judgment,” Barr said.

Dana Milbank: Bill Barr Was a Bully as a Kid, And Now As An Adult

President Trump and AG William Barr, via DOJ.

By Dana Milbank
Washington Post

WASHINGTON —  Police in Buffalo shove a 75-year-old man to the ground and blood pours from his ear. Police in Brooklyn knock down a young woman and call her a “bitch” because she asked why she had to leave the street. Federal authorities in Washington fire tear gas at peaceful demonstrators, then lie about it.

Get the feeling law enforcement in this country is being run by a middle-school bully?

If so, you are not wrong. Childhood bullies have a predisposition to become adult bullies, research shows, and, sure enough, it seems Attorney General William Barr was a teenage bully more than 50 years ago.

Back in 1991, during Barr’s confirmation to be George H.W. Bush’s attorney general, lawyer Jimmy Lohman, who overlapped with Barr at New York’s Horace Mann School and later Columbia University, wrote a piece for the little-known Florida Flambeau newspaper about Barr being “my very own high-school tormentor” — a “classic bully” and “power abuser” in the 1960s who “put the crunch on me every chance [he] got.”

To read the full column click here.

Secret Service Spent More than $75K protecting Trump Jr. During Hunting Trip to Mongolia

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Secret Service spent more than $75,000 protecting Donald Trump Jr. while he went on a hunting trip to Mongolia in August, according to a government watchdog group that obtained new documents detailing the costs.

Trump Jr. went to Mongolia and hunted the argali sheep, a near-threatened species with long horns.

While in Mongolia, Trump Jr. also reportedly met with Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga.

“As a son of the president, Donald Trump Jr. is entitled to Secret Service protection and should be protected, but taxpayers deserve to know how much they are paying to facilitate his trophy hunting and interactions with major political donors and foreign leaders,” Citizens for Responsibility And Ethics (CREW) in Washington said in a statement.

The Secret Service is tasked with protecting the children of presidents.

FBI Seeks Help Identifying Two Men Who May Have Information about Boston PD Cruiser Set on Fire

The two men who posed in front of the vandalized cruiser. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI and Boston law enforcement are looking for two men who authorities believe may have information about a Boston Police Department cruiser set on fire in the aftermath of a May 31 protest.

Police said they parked their cruiser to help authorities after a protest when several people vandalized the vehicle and torched it.

Video and photographs show two men posing for near the squad car.

“Investigators would like to speak with them because they may have information relevant to the ongoing investigation into the vandalism and arson of a Boston Police Department cruiser,” the FBI said in a news release.

The FBI released surveillance footage and photos of the two men.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the FBI at (857) 386-2000.