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Justice Drops Spy Case Against Pro-Israel Lobbyists

aipacThis case was plagued with troubles. It’s best that the government dropped it. Taking it to trial could have been a disaster. And that’s something the Justice Department doesn’t need at a time it’s trying to upgrade its image and correct the mistakes of the past.

By NEIL A. LEWIS
New York Times
WASHINGTON – The Obama Justice Department moved Friday to drop all charges against two former pro-Israel lobbyists who had been charged under the Espionage Act with improperly disseminating sensitive information.

The move by the government came in a motion filed with the federal court in Alexandria, Va. which was to be the site of the trial that was scheduled to begin June 2.

The prosecution’s case against Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman suffered several setbacks in rulings from the trial judge. At the same time, the case was fraught with deep political dimensions, as it raised delicate issue of behind-the-scenes lobbying over Middle East policy and the role played by American Jewish supporters of Israel.

Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman, who were lobbyists with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a leading pro-Israel lobby, were charged with violating the World War I-era Espionage Act. The indictment said they violated the law by disseminating to journalists, fellow Aipac employees and Israeli diplomats information they had learned in conversations with senior Bush administration officials.

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Ex-Secret Service Agent Contracted Swine Flu During Presidental Trip to Mexico

secret-service-logo1Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — A former U.S. Secret Service agent from Maryland, who traveled to Mexico with President Obama last month “probably contracted swine flu and infected several members of his family in Anne Arundel County”, the Washington Post reported Friday.

Marc S. Griswold, who had left the Secret Service a while ago and is an employee of the Department of Energy, was serving as a lead advance agent for Energy Secretary Steven Chu on the presidential trip, authorities said Friday morning. He told the post that a minor cough turned into the swine flu, but that he has recovered.

Griswold said the disease has created problems for his family, which had endured stares and mean jokes, the Post reported.

“We’re not the Typhoid Mary family, for goodness sake,” Griswold told the Post. “We’ve been told we’re not contagious. We’re already past the seven-day mark for that.”

Griswold did not get close to the President during the trip, the paper reported.

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John Malcolm Bales Named Interim U.S. Attorney for Eastern District of Texas

texasBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. has named John Malcolm Bales the interim U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas.

He replaces Rebecca Gregory, who stepped down to join the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

Bales, 54 of Nacogdoches,Tex., will take the post on Friday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Bales had previously served as First Assistant U.S. Attorney and most recently as chief of the criminal division, the office said.

The District includes 43 counties stretching from the Oklahoma border to the Gulf of Mexico.

Bales, a former FBI agent, graduated from the University of Texas School of Law and became an assistant U.S. Attorney in 1989, according to a press release.

al-Qaida Sleeper Agent Pleads Guilty in Illinois

perioria-map

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
PEORIA, Ill.—- An al-Qaida sleeper agent who was locked up without charge for years by the Bush administration pleaded guilty Thursday to supporting terrorism in the months before and immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Ali al-Marri, 43, a married father of five who was attending college in this central Illinois city when he was arrested, admitted to one count of conspiring to provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization.

He faces up to 15 years in prison at his July 30 sentencing.

“We thought (the plea) was the right approach to take based on the evidence the government allowed us to review over the last several weeks,” said al-Marri’s attorney, Andy Savage.

Plea negotiations have been going on since before al-Marri’s initial court appearance in Peoria in March, Savage said.

For Full Story

With All the Trouble at the Mexico Border, What’s the Holdup For a New DEA Chief?

Chris Battle

Chris Battle

By Chris Battle
Security DeBrief

WASHINGTON — There has been quite a bit of discussion about the surge of drug-related violence on the Mexican border, rightly so.

There has also been quite a bit of discussion lately, thanks to a recent GAO study and congressional hearings, about whether the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are allowing turf issues to interfere with an effective U.S. response to that increased violence. Also an appropriate topic of inquiry.

Is anyone else, though, wondering why – if the narco-violence on our southern border is indeed so important (and it is) – why the Administration has yet to announce a nominee to lead the DEA?

The DEA is a rare government bird; it has only one focus. That focus is to combat the large-scale trafficking of illegal narcotics. If you ask anyone at the FBI, he or she will inform you that The Bureau does it all. You got a crime? They got a jurisdiction. They do drugs. They do white collar. They do terrorism. They’d do circus clowns if circus clowning were a federal crime (which, by the way, I am actively lobbying for). Which is why they can sometimes come off as disorganized and thinly stretched.

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Ex-CIA Analyst Attacks FBI Dir. Mueller For Saying Torture Doesn’t Work

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-qDZaTgdO0

Homeland to Crack Down on Employers Who Hire Illegal Immigrants

This new policy should be more effective than focusing on the illegal immigrants. But can  ICE  pull this off effectively?  That is the real question.

Janet Napolitano

Janet Napolitano

Ginger Thompson
New York Times
WASHINGTON – In an effort to crack down on illegal labor, the Department of Homeland Security intends to step up enforcement efforts against employers who knowingly hire such workers.

Under guidelines to be issued Thursday to Immigration and Customs Enforcement field offices, agents will be instructed to take aim at employers and supervisors for prosecution “through the use of carefully planned criminal investigations.”

Senior officials of the Homeland Security Department said Wednesday that illegal workers would continue to be detained in raids on workplaces. But the officials said they hoped to mark an abrupt departure from past practices by making those arrests as part of an effort to build criminal and civil cases against employers.

Under the Bush administration, the officials said, most raids were conducted largely on the basis of tips that an employer was hiring illegal workers, rather than on information gleaned from audits of employer records or undercover investigations. As a result, agents rounded up thousands of illegal immigrants but rarely developed the evidence necessary to show whether businesses were knowingly using illegal labor.

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Calif. Man Faces Fed Prison Time For Pointing Laser at Commercial Jet Pilots Landing at Airport

JetBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A California man could get serious prison time after becoming the first person in the nation to be convicted at trial of pointing a laser at commercial planes as they were about to land.

Dana Christian Welch, 37, of Orange County, was convicted last week by a federal jury in Los Angeles of shooting a green laser at two commercial planes at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, Calif. in May 2008, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

He was convicted on two counts, each which carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Sentencing is set for Sept. 15.

Evidence during trial showed that Welch pointed a hand held laser at two Boeing 7-series jets,

In another instance, he pointed the laser at pilots of an Alaska Airline flight, “causing one pilot to duck under a glare shield…and the other pilot to delay a critical turn necessary to land the plane,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Several people have pleaded guilty to similar offenses, but Welch was the first to be convicted in a trial.

“This conviction should make clear to those contemplating the targeting of cockpits with lasers that such behavior is not only dangerous, but criminal, with serious consequences attached,” Salvador Hernandez, assistant director in charge of the Los Angeles FBI said in a prepared statement.

Read Indictment

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