Links

Columnists



Site Search


Entire (RSS)
Comments (RSS)

Archive Calendar

May 2021
S M T W T F S
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  

Guides

How to Become a Bounty Hunter



Column: The Oklahoma Bombing 16 Years Later: We’re No Longer Surprised

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Sixteen years ago today, America was served up one horrific surprise: The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City: 168 people died.

It was shocker.

At the time — April 19, 1995 —  as a reporter at the Detroit News, I called around to federal law enforcement people, checking to see what they knew. Some speculated that it was foreign terrorists, just like in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

Others suggested it had something to do with Waco. The foreign terrorist theory sounded more palatable. The idea of our own citizens committing such an atrocity seemed unlikely.

I was wrong.

Two days later, I was headed up to Decker, Mi., about two hours outside of Detroit, to check out a farm  the FBI and ATF  agents were raiding.  The farm belonged to James Nichols. His brother Terry and Tim McVeigh had spent time there. Terry Nichols and Tim McVeigh were later convicted. McVeigh was put to death.

Now, 16 years later, we’ve evolved. The  thought of one our own committing a terrorist act simply doesn’t phase us.  A lone wolf. A naturalized citizen. A convert.  An anti-government fanatic. Nothing surprises us any more.

Sixteen years isn’t a particularly noteworthy milestone. But around this time of year, I always feel like its worth noting and offering condolences to the many families who lost loved ones in Oklahoma City.

Justice Dept. Wants Court to Toss Lawsuit Against Secret Service Agents Involving Incident With Ex-Veep Cheney


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department has jumped into the fray to try and help two Secret Service agents from being sued in a case linked to former vice president Dick Cheney.

The Associated Press reports that the  Department of Justice filed documents in the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver siding with the agents –Virgil D. “Gus” Reichle Jr. and Dan Doyle — who asked that the court overturn the court’s  three-judge panel’s ruling that said Colorado resident Steven Howards could sue them.

AP reported that the Justice Department is arguing that the law protects agents when making split-second decisions when protecting a vice president and president.

AP reported that the Secret Service agents arrested Howards in 2006 after he allegedly approached Cheney at a mall outside of Denver and protested his Iraq policy and touched his shoulder.

Howards alleged in the suit that the arrest was done in retaliation. The feds never charged him and the state dropped charges.

The court panel ruled  last month  that Howards can sue agents on First Amendment grounds, the Associated Press reported. The court ruled that two other agents initially named in the suit are immune in the case.

Last month, Howard’s attorney David Lane said: “I fully intend on deposing the former vice president.”

Let the Fun Begin: Fed Prosecutor Calls Blago a “Liar” As Retrial Nears

headline after first trial

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The pretrial hearing was like a “weigh in” before the big boxing match, where both sides snipe at one another.

A federal prosecutor on Monday called the very chatty ex-Ill. Gov Rod Blagojevich a ‘liar’  at a pretrial hearing in U.S. District Court in Chicago, according to the Chicago Tribune.

And U.S. District Judge James Zagel warned Blago to watch what he yaps to the media because some of those things could be used against him in the trial that begins on Wednesday.

“You can consider my remarks a red flag,” Zagel said.

Lead prosecutor Reid Schar complained about Blagojevich,  who was saying in the media that federal attorneys tried to hide evidence that might  clear him of the accusations, which include allegations that he tried to sell President Obama’s vacant Senate seat, the Tribune reported.

Schar said in court, according to the Trib:  “This is just an attempt by him to poison what’s going on. . . . At a certain point, enough is enough.”  Schar said he would like to grill Blago on  the witness stand and “confront him with his lies.”  However, it’s not clear if Blago will take the stand in his retrial. He did not in the first trial in which he was only convicted on 1 of 24 counts — for lying to the FBI.

Schar was particularly annoyed by Blago’s comments on TV in which he said the government had the power to publicly release more FBI wiretap recordings, the Tribune reported. Schar said that power resides with the judge. Blago has claimed repeatedly that the prosecutors don’t want to release all the FBI recordings, which would prove his innocence.

“We’d like some remedy for those fabrications that he’s not being called on,” he said, according to the Tribune.

Defense attorney Sheldon Sorosky countered by saying Blago  was offering up his understanding of the rules and intentionally fabricating them, according to the Trib.

Blagojevich spokesman Glenn Selig said in a statement, according to the Trib: “The governor will continue to be truthful, honest and responsible as he does everything he can to clear his name.”

FBI Agent Robert Hanssen’s Suburban Home Up For Sale for $725,000; He Now Lives in Supermax Prison in Colo.

FBI Spy Robert Hanssen

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

To the FBI, the White House, the CIA and the American people, FBI agent Robert Hanssen was nothing more than a traitor, a Russian spy who did some serious damage to national security in exchange for diamonds and cash worth $600,000.

But in the real estate world, his name means little. His five-bedroom home in Vienna, Va., a nice little suburb of Washington, is just another listing.

USA Today reports that Hanssen’s dark wood and brick split-level is up for sale for $725,000. It makes no mention online of Hanssen.

“We’re not obviously marketing to that aspect,” real estate agent Patrick Kilner told USA Today. “It’s not a salient issue.”

USA Today reports that info Hanssen provided to the Russians over 15 years resulted in the executions of at least two Russian agents working for the United States.

USA Today reported when Hanssen, now 67, pleaded guilty to espionage charges in 2001, the family home was one of the few possessions  the government did not seize. The property was assigned to Hanssen’s wife, Bernadette, whose name remains on property records.

hanssen home/llewellyn realtors

Hanssen is serving a life sentence and is currently being housed in the Supermax prison in Colorado, a far cry from his cozy home in Virginia.

Rep. Peter King Busts Justice Dept.’s Chops; Claims it Overruled Wishes of Prosecutors and FBI to File Charges in Muslim Charity Case; Justice Dept. Calls Allegations Nonsense

Rep. Peter King/gov photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Rep. Peter King is busting the chops of the Justice Department, claiming the department overruled fed prosecutors and FBI agents who wanted to file  charges against unindicted co-conspirators  in  a prosecution of a  Texas-based Muslim charity —  the Holy Land Foundation — which had ties to Hamas in Gaza, the Washington Times reported.

King, a New York Republican who chairs the House Committee on Homeland Security, sent a letter on Monday to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. asking that he answer questions regarding the 2008 terrorism-financing prosecution, the Washington Times reported.

“I have been reliably informed that the decision not to seek indictments of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and its co-founder Omar Ahmad; the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA); and the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) was usurped by high-ranking officials at Department of Justice headquarters over the vehement and stated objections of special agents and supervisors of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as the prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Dallas, who had investigated and successfully prosecuted the Holy Land Foundation case,” King stated.

King also wants to know if the White House intervened in the matter, the Times reported.

“I believe that in order to maintain the credibility of the department, there should be full transparency into the department’s decision,” King stated.

Dean Boyd, a Justice Department spokesman, issued a statement to ticklethewire.com disputing the allegations:

“The Justice Department brings prosecutions based on the facts and the evidence, nothing more or less. The investigation, prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development and five of its leaders for providing material support to Hamas, and determination of whether to charge unindicted co-conspirators, were guided only by the law and the facts; any suggestion to the contrary is false and unfounded.”

“The notion that an individual suspect or organization is immune from Justice Department prosecution solely because of their affiliations, memberships or political leanings is not only false but an affront to Department prosecutors nationwide who bring charges against defendants daily without regard to such considerations.”

To read more on Washington Times story click here.

Authorities in Awe of Drug Runners’ Jungle-Built, Kevlar-Coated Super Subs


By Jim Popkin
WIRED

The clatter of helicopter blades echoed across the jungles of northwestern Ecuador. Antinarcotics commandos in three choppers peered at the mangroves below, scanning for any sign of activity. The police had received a tip that a gang of Colombian drug smugglers had set up a clandestine work site here, in a dense swamp 5 miles south of Colombia’s border. And whatever the traffickers were building, the tipster had warned, was truly enormous.

For decades, Colombian drug runners have pursued their trade with diabolical ingenuity, staying a step ahead of authorities by coming up with one innovation after another. When false-paneled pickups and tractor-trailers began drawing suspicion at US checkpoints, the cartels and their Mexican partners built air-conditioned tunnels under the border. When border agents started rounding up too many human mules, one group of Colombian smugglers surgically implanted heroin into purebred puppies. But the drug runners’ most persistently effective method has also been one of the crudest—semisubmersible vessels that cruise or are towed just below the ocean’s surface and can hold a ton or more of cocaine.

Assembled in secret shipyards along the Pacific coast, they’ve been dubbed drug subs by the press, but they’re incapable of diving or maneuvering like real submarines. In fact, they’re often just cigarette boats encased in wood and fiberglass that are scuttled after a single mission. Yet despite their limitations, these semisubmersibles are notoriously difficult to track. US and Colombian officials estimate that the cartels have used them to ship hundreds of tons of cocaine from Colombia over the past five years alone.

But several years ago, intelligence agencies began hearing that the cartels had made a technological breakthrough: They were constructing some kind of supersub in the jungle.

To read full story click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Blago Says He Never Considered a Plea Deal; Appears a Little Nervous About Retrial

Ex-Gov on NBC's Celebrity Apprentice

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

With just days to go before his retrial, ex-Ill. Gov Rod Blagojevich is still speaking his mind. No surprise.

The chatty ex-Gov. told the Associated Press Saturday he never considered a plea deal with federal prosecutors. The retrial is set to begin Wednesday in U.S. District Court in downtown Chicago.

“There will never ever, ever, ever be me admitting to things that are false and not true,” he said. “I acted honestly, with my heart in the right place, with honest intention.”

Blago was convicted the first time of 1 of 24 counts — for lying to the FBI.

Still, with all his talk, he appeared a little nervous.

“I hate to admit it,” he told the AP. “But the truth is there is always an element of fear that if things don’t go as they should, the consequences are not something to look forward to.”

Park Dedicated to Murdered Seattle Prosecutor; Case Remains Unsolved

Thomas Crane Wales/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The dedication won’t right the tragedy, but it’s still pretty nice.

Friends and family gathered Saturday to dedicate a 1.3 acre park in the Queen Anne section of Seattle to assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Wales, who was murdered while he worked in his basement in Seattle 10 years ago, according to NWCN news. The shooting remains unsolved.

“It never gets any easier, but it gets more simple in a sense because he knows we’re OK and we’re happy and that is what he would want,” Wales’ daughter, Amy Wales said, according to NWCN news.

The news station reports that Wales had been on a neighborhood committee that helped keep the little park in public hands.