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Law Enforcement Deaths Up For Second Year in a Row

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Bad news for U.S. law enforcement.

For the second year in a row, law enforcement fatalities —  from shootings to traffic incidents –rose sharply nationwide during the first half of 2011. The figure included 40 officers killed by gunfire, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF).

The fund reported that 98 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty during the first six months of this year, a 14 percent increase over the 86 officers who died last year during the same period.

The report did show that the number of officers ,killed in traffic-related accidents — a total of  35– declined by 17 percent over 2010 during the six month period.

A breakdown of the 98 officers killed the first six months of this year were as follows: 40 officers were shot to death; 21 died in automobile crashes; 16 succumbed to job-related illnesses; seven were struck by automobiles while outside of their own vehicles; five were killed in motorcycle crashes; two were struck by a train; one officer died in an aircraft crash; one was beaten to death; one was electrocuted; one died in a fall; one was killed in a bomb blast; one was crushed to death; and one was strangled.

“The economy has forced reductions in training, safety equipment and personnel at law enforcement agencies across America,” stated NLEOMF Chairman Craig W. Floyd. “These budget cuts have put our officers at greater risk, especially as they face a more brazen, cold-blooded criminal element and a continuing terrorist threat,” he added.

FEC Orders John Edwards to Repay $2.3 Million in Fed Campaign Funds

John Edwards

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ex-Sen. John Edwards, a two-time presidential candidate facing federal indictment, got some bad news on Thursday.

The Federal Election Commission ruled that Edward’s 2008 campaign must repay $2.3 million in federal campaign funds, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The LA Times reported that the FEC audit found the campaign received too much much money in campaign funds as part of a matching fund program. The overage was attributed to accounting errors.

The paper reported that it is not uncommon for campaign committees to have to pay back monies.

The FEC ruling was not related to the federal criminal charges against Edwards.  He’s charged with violating campaign laws.

Tracy Schmaler Moving Up to Top Spot at Justice Dept. Public Affairs Office

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Tracy Schmaler, the deputy director of the Justice Department’s Office of Public Affairs, is moving on up.

Schmaler will take over the top spot in the office, replacing Matt Miller, who steps down next week, the website Main Justice reported.

Schmaler, a former reporter for the Vermont Bureau Press, had previously worked for the Sen. Judiciary Committee for Sen. Patrick Leahy.

The Justice Department distributed a statement from Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr.:

“Tracy has done an outstanding job as a member of the Department’s senior leadership for the past two and a half years, and I look forward to her continued advice and counsel as she takes on this new assignment. With background as a reporter and time on Capitol Hill, she brings invaluable experience and perspective to the issues the Department faces day in and out.”

Secret Service and FBI Probing Racial Cartoon Faxed to White House and Congress Member

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Some cartoons simply aren’t funny.

The Secret Service and FBI are investigating who faxed a racially charged cartoon to the White House and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex),  the Houston Chronicle reported.

The cartoon depicted nooses and lynching posts, the paper reported. The headline included a racial epithet and the cartoon also included two L-shaped lynching posts with “Sheila Jackson Lee” written on one cross bar and “Hussein Obama” written on the second cross bar, the Houston Chronicle reported. The return address on the fax said: “Defecating on Obama.”

“We are aware of the cartoon, and we are taking appropriate measures,” said Secret Service spokesman Robert Novy, according to the Chronicle.

FBI Contacts NYPD About Murdoch Scandal

Bye Bye N.Y.?

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The signs of spillage from the Rupert Murdoch scandal are popping up in New York City.

The Wall Street Journal’s Devlin Barrett and Sean Gardner report that the FBI has contacted the New York cops and the FBI’s own victims’ assistance office as part of a probe into whether Murdoch’s News Corp. employees tried hacking into voice mails of Sept. 11 victims.

The Journal cited “people familiar with the case.”

The paper reported that the FBI inquiry comes in wake of a report by the Daily Mirror that an unidentified New York cop claimed he was offered money by a News of the World

reporter for private phone details of 9/11 victims.

Paul Browne, a NYPD spokesman, confirmed that his department made formal inquiries into the case, and the FBI had contacted NYPD.

But he said to date the police department had to substantiate the allegations.

Airport Screening Machines to Get Less Personal

file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Good news for those who think the Transportation Security Administration has gone too far in its efforts to screen airline passengers.

The Associated Press reports that TSA is installing news technology at some airports that will show a generic outline of s peson’s body instead of showing an image of the naked body.

AP reported that the new technology will be used in 40 airports including Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Miami and Newark.

The news service said TSA will eventually use the technology at other airports as well.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

D.C. U.S. Atty. Ron Machen Didn’t Make the Cut

Ron Machen Jr./doj photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

No surprise here.

D.C. U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen Jr. reported for jury duty Monday in D.C. Superior Court, but didn’t make the cut, the Blog of Legal Times reported.

“I appreciated the opportunity to fulfill my civic duty,” Machen said in an e-mail to the Blog of Legal Times. “Much to my chagrin, I did not get the chance to serve on a jury. However, I enjoyed the experience and got to complete a lot of reading.”

The blog reported that Attorney Gen. Eric Holder Jr. reported to jury duty last November in D.C. Superior Court, but got bounced as well.

Here Comes Some Interesting Testimony in Fast and Furious; Hearing Set for Tuesday

Rep. Issa/gov photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Now this should be interesting.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold hearings on Tuesday on Operation Fast and Furious and the witnesses should provide some sizzling testimony.

Those slated to testify include: Carlos Canino, ATF Acting Attaché to Mexico; Darren Gil, ex-ATF Attaché to Mexico; Jose Wall, ATF Senior Special Agent in Tijuana, Mexico; Lorren Leadmon, ATF Intelligence Operations Specialist; William Newell, former ATF Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix Field Division and William McMahon, ATF Deputy Assistant Director for Field Operations (West, including Phoenix and Mexico).

In a press release issued Wednesday, the committee said:

“This Tuesday’s hearing, Operation Fast and Furious: The Other Side of the Border, will feature the testimony of U.S. law enforcement officials who witnessed a different side of the controversial operation. These officials saw the steady stream of Operation Fast and Furious guns recovered at crime scenes in Mexico and were given orders from superiors not to alert Mexican authorities. Members of the Committee will also have their first opportunity to question ATF supervisors who have defended Operation Fast and Furious and the Justice Department’s decisions to committee investigators.

Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the committee said in a statement: “The Acting Director of the ATF has told congressional investigators that the Justice Department is attempting to shift blame in Operation Fast and Furious away from its political appointees.

“Examining the accounts of witnesses who did not participate in Operation Fast and Furious, but were nonetheless disturbed as they watched it unfold is critical to understanding the scope of this flawed program,” Issa said. “uThis testimony is especially important in light of the Justice Department’s willful efforts to withhold key evidence from investigators about what occurred, who knew and who authorized this reckless operation.”