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Oprah Rules! Prospective Blago Juror Will Get to Attend Taping of Oprah Show

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Oprah trumps all!

As you might recall the other day, a prospective juror in the retrial of ex-Ill. Gov Rod Blagojevich wanted off jury duty because she had four tickets to a May 10 taping of “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” In May, the legendary show, which is taped in Chicago, is finished.

Earlier in the week, the judge and attorneys talked about possibly accommodating her by changing the court schedule that day. Then again, the judge expressed some skepticism about the importance of making it to the taping.

Well, the point is now moot.  The juror, known only as Juror 137,  got her wish. She’s won’t be serving, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The Tribune reported that prosecutors and defense lawyers agreed to drop the woman known as Juror 137 “without any public discussion of her alleged hardship.”

The Tribune reported that the never-short-of-words defendant Rod Blagojevich said afterward that he envied the woman for not having to sit through his retrial.

“No, I would say eff-ing golden,” joked Blagojevich.

Jury selection, which entered Day 5 on Thursday,  is winding down. Opening statements are expected on Monday, the Trib reported.

Justice Dept. Gives Green Light to N.O. Police K-9 Unit After 6 Month Suspension


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Apparently it took a little Emily Post-like training to get the New Orleans Police K-9 unit on its best behavior.

The Justice Department has given the green light for the New Orleans Police Department to reactivate its canine unit following a six-month suspension, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported.

The Justice Department, which had been called in to review the police department operations, had recommended the suspension after it found that dog handlers in the K-9 unit weren’t able to control the dogs, which too often bit cooperative suspects, the paper reported.

The rate of dog bites was considered excessive for a K-9 unit, and some dogs were “almost completely uncontrollable,” the Picayune reported.

But now things are apparently better.

The paper noted that a police news release stated: “DOJ inspectors … stated that the dogs are now exceptionally trained and will undoubtedly be more effective in tracking down suspects and sniffing out illegal drugs.”

Atty. Gen. Holder Not Going Anywhere For Now

Eric Holder Jr./ticklethewire.com file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — It’s been anything but smooth sailing for Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. since he took the job on Feb. 3, 2009.  In fact, he’s often been a pinata for some key Republicans, who have bashed him at hearings time and again.

Still, despite the shuffling of people in the Obama administration, and the departure of some key figures, it appears Holder is staying put for the time being, according to Josh Gerstein of Politico.

Earlier in the week, he gave a pep talk to some 150 Justice Department employees and laid out his plan of attack in going after crime and terrorism.

“I’ve enjoyed my two years here, which is not to say that every day has been great. There have been disappointments, but there’ve also been substantial victories as well,” Holder told reporters, according to Politico. “My confidence, my faith in this department is constantly renewed as I interact with people in this department, and I see how dedicated they are — the sacrificing they do.”

“We have a long list of agenda items, and I will be pushing those over the next couple of years,” he said. “I’m happy. I’m content. My wife says I’ve got some more time. So long as she’s in the same place, I’ll be around.”

Politico reported that a senior Justice Department official said the move to prosecute Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others before a military commission has freed Holder to speak out.

“In some sense, KSM being finally over is liberating, and that’s why you’re seeing him out now doing other things that he has wanted to do all along as attorney general,” the official said, according to Politico.

“He has been working on other things near and dear to his heart as long as he’s been AG,” but they just always have “been overshadowed by KSM. That shadow is gone now,” said the official.

Editorial Urges Portland Police to Rejoin FBI’s JTTF Squad

fbi photo

By The Portland Tribune
Editorial

PORTLAND, Ore. — In 2005 the Portland City Council voted to pull out of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force – leaving not only Portland, but also the region, with a void of local engagement in investigating and preventing acts of terrorism.

That absence should end this week as the City Council considers a resolution that not only returns Portland police officers to the terrorism task force, but also sets a national model for ensuring that civil rights are protected and local and national laws are followed along the way.

If the City Council needs a reminder of why it is important to act, it need only consider a Beaverton-area resident’s plot late last year to detonate a bomb on the night of the Christmas tree-lighting ceremony at Pioneer Courthouse Square.

But in Portland – a community that seemingly fears imagined threats to civil rights more than the direct threat of terrorism – elected leaders often make strange choices.

To read more click here.

Judge Rules Against Muslim Groups But Blasts Government

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

There was good news and bad news for Muslim activists who sued to get FBI files on their activities.

The bad news was that a federal judge in Santa Ana, Calif., ruled Wednesday that the groups cannot have access to most of the files because of national security issues, the Associated Press reported.

The consolation prize for the group was that the judge blasted the government for misleading the court about the existence of the files, AP reported.

“The government’s representations were then, and remain today, blatantly false,” Judge Cormac J. Carney wrote. “The government cannot, under any circumstance, affirmatively mislead the court.”

Six Muslim groups and five individuals sued the government in 2007 to gain access to records after they alleged the government was unlawfully targeting Muslims in Southern California, AP reported.

Suspected Terrorists Can Still Legally Buy Guns


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Apparently suspected terrorist have the right to buy guns too.

The Associated Press reported that 247 people with suspected terrorism ties bought guns last year in the U.S. after going through the mandatory background check, according to FBI stats.

AP reported that it is not illegal to buy guns even if you’re on the terrorist watch list.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. has been trying to change the law to address that issue, AP reported.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

FBI Wash. Field Office Gets Piece of Pentagon Wall From 9/11 Attack

James McJunkin/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — FBI agents at the Washington Field Office hardly needed anything to remind them of the devastating aftermath of 9/11,  and the plane crash at the Pentagon that killed 184 folks.

Nonetheless, it was nice gesture Wednesday when the office  was presented with an 800-pound limestone block recovered from the west facade of the Pentagon after the plane crash.

The stone was presented during a military ceremony at the field office in Washington, blocks from the U.S. Capitol. It  will  be displayed in the lobby of the building.  Agents responded to the Pentagon minutes after the crash.

“The relationship we share with the Military District of Washington, Arlington County Fire, and other first responders was formed long before that fateful day,”  James McJunkin, assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office said.

“In the years since, these bonds have grown as one of the few positive legacies of September 11. The FBI is stronger now because of these partnerships. What emerged from that scene at the Pentagon ten years ago should instill in every American today a sense of confidence in the skill, courage and keen coordination within of our Nation’s law enforcement and first responders.”

John Perren

“This stone serves as a reminder of the past and is a tribute to the injured and the 184 lives lost at the Pentagon nearly ten years ago,” said Karl Horst, Major General, Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region. “Today we remember how our partners at the Bureau reacted with extraordinary heroism when – without warning – they were called upon to perform their duty in the midst of an unimaginable act of terrorism. ”

Mike Rolince/knights of columbus photo

Speakers at the ceremony included former FBI agent Michael Rolince, who was Section Chief, Counterterrorism Division, FBI Headquarters on 9/11 ; FBI Deputy Assistant Director John G. Perren, Criminal Investigation Division, FBI Headquarters , who was a supervisory special agent for the WFO’s Joint Terrorism Task Force on 9/11; Major General Karl R. Horst, Joint Force Headquarters, National Capital Region and the U.S. Army Military District of Washington and  McJunkin, who now heads up the FBI Washington Field Office.

FBI Agent Commits Suicide in Maine

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI wasn’t saying much last week about the suicide of an FBI agent, who shot himself  in the Portland, Maine area over the weekend of April 24, according to sources.

The agent was in his early 50s, one source said.

FBI agent Greg Comcowich, a spokesman for the Boston FBI Division, which includes Maine,  told the ticklethewire.com:

“The type of question which you are inquiring (about)is not something the FBI would comment on.”

Last year, an FBI agent assigned to Quantico committed suicide.