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Law Professor Says Leave Patriot Act Intact: “The Act Works”

By Nathan A. Sales
Christian Science Monitor
ARLINGTON, Va. — Remember when the USA Patriot Act was seen as a common-sense counterterrorism tool? Congress enacted the law shortly after the 9/11 attacks by large bipartisan majorities. It wasn’t even close.

And for good reason: The Patriot Act made relatively modest changes to the law as it stood on Sept. 11, 2001. The act simply let terrorist- and spy-hunters use some of the same tools regular cops have had in their arsenal for decades. And it updated existing laws to make them more effective against terrorist threats.

As President Obama forges new security policies, let’s hope he keeps the Patriot Act intact. The act works. According to the Justice Department, the Patriot Act helped take down Al Qaeda cells in Buffalo, N.Y. and Portland, Ore. Prosecutors used it to convict a Floridian who pled guilty to raising money for a terrorist group called Palestinian Islamic Jihad. And The act led to the conviction of a man who threatened to torch a Texas mosque.

Read The Rest

Nevada U.S. Attorney Greg Brower Figures He’ll Get the Boot

U.S. Atty. Gregory Bower

U.S. Atty. Gregory Brower

Some U.S. Attorneys haven’t waited to get the boot. Some hope to stay. And some figure they’ll get the boot and are passing around resumes.

By MARTHA BELLISLE
Reno Gazette-Journal
RENO, Nevada — As the Obama administration takes over, Nevada’s U.S. attorney is looking for a new job, though he has not been asked to leave.

“It seems clear that the new administration will be making a change at some point, and in some districts, there have been resignations and vacancies, and names have already been forwarded to the White House,” said Greg Brower, who last year replaced Daniel Bogden, one of eight U.S. attorneys fired in December 2006 as part of a controversial purge that led to congressional investigations and ultimately the forced resignation of former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Although Brower has not been told anything about losing his position, he said he expects that he’ll be out of office by fall.

“By the end of the summer, every district will have started or completed its own process,” he said. “I’m still enjoying the job, but I anticipate we’ll see a whole new batch of attorneys by the fall.”

For Full Story

Judge Rules that Border Agent in Arizona Used Excessive Force in Fatal Shooting

This was an interesting ruling. The judge ruled that a U.S. Border Patrol agent used excessive force when he fatally shot an illegal immigrant. At the same time, he reduced the award from $1 million to $350,000 because the guy was running from law enforcement. The reduction in money seems to say the agent was wrong — kind of.

By Jamar Younger
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
TUCSON — A U.S. District Court judge ruled Wednesday that the 2003 shooting death of an illegal immigrant by a Border Patrol agent was not justified, in response to a civil lawsuit filed by the man’s family.

The family of Ricardo Olivares Martinez, 22, will receive $350,000 after it was deemed that Border Patrol agent Cesar Cervantes used excessive force when he shot Martinez in the chest several times in June 2003, according to a decision written by Judge Raner Collins.

Martinez’s family originally was awarded $1 million, but Collins reduced the figure because Martinez was fleeing a law-enforcement officer, the decision stated.

For Full Story

Feds to Fight Judge’s Order to Release Documents in Eliot Spitzer Probe

Ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer

Ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer

Ok. There’s two levels of interest when it comes to these documents. One level: Did the government have justification to go as far as it did to get wiretaps and follow Eliot Spitzer to the landmark hotel, the Mayflower, in Washington? The second level is purely fodder for the tabloids: Juicy details of the underground life of a high profile and sometimes abrasive politician who had a promising future in the Democratic party.

By William K. Rashbaum
New York Times
NEW YORK — Prosecutors of the prostitution case that exposed Eliot Spitzer as a client while he was governor are appealing a court order directing them to unseal records that may shed light on the origins of the investigation. The case led to Mr. Spitzer’s resignation as governor of New York in March 2008.

The Feb. 19 ruling by Jed S. Rakoff of United States District Court in Manhattan ordered the federal prosecutors to provide the records – including sworn affidavits that were part of wiretap applications in the case – to The New York Times, which in December filed a motion to unseal the material.

The prosecutors, from the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan, filed a notice in court on Monday saying that they would appeal Judge Rakoff’s ruling to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, a decision that was made by senior Justice Department officials in Washington.

For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

New Head of ICE Has Far More Experience than Predecessor

Sounds like a good trade off, replacing the former head of ICE, who was well-connected but had little experience with someone who is less connected but more experienced. Not that it hurts to have connections here in Washington. But it shouldn’t override key things like experience.

By AllGov

If John Morton is confirmed as the head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, he will be a marked contrast to the last person to hold the post, President Bush’s appointee, Julie Myers.

Myers was well-connected, but had little experience. Morton, on the other hand, is a low-key career federal prosecutor who has handled immigration crime, and has quietly worked for the past 15 years for the Department of Justice (DOJ), helping develop policies attacking human smuggling and passport and visa fraud.

Morton began his career as a trial attorney in the Justice Department’s honors program in 1994, serving for two and a half years as counsel to the Deputy Attorney General and focusing primarily on immigration matters.

For Full Story

Violent Mexico Drug Cartels Reaching into Canada

The violent Mexican drug wars are spilling over the border into the U.S., particularly in border states. But now Canada is acknowledging that the violent activities are encroaching on the Canadian landscape. Now the question is: What to do?

COLIN FREEZE AND MARINA JIMÉNEZ
Toronto Globe and Mail
TORONTO — Mexico’s war on the drug cartels has become a national security issue for Canada, say Ottawa officials, as the violent backlash from the syndicates spills across the border into Canada and the U.S.

Security agencies, including the RCMP, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, and the Integrated Threat Assessment Centre, are concerned an organized-crime problem could turn into a full-fledged national security threat.

One official, who asked to speak anonymously, explained that “it’s all part of this river of drugs – and we’re one of the subsidiary streams.

“It’s going to impact on us,” he said, adding the issue “does receive national attention.”
The Globe and Mail

This week, the RCMP publicly described a series of B.C. gang murders as a Canadian echo of the bloody feuds among the Mexican drug cartels, notorious for beheading their enemies and bribing corrupt local officials.

For Full Story

Related Story

Mexicans and Americans Getting Armor Plated Vehicles in Response to Violence (AP)

Agreement Clears Way for Karl Rove and Harriet Miers to Testify in U.S. Atty Firings

Karl Rove

Karl Rove

Clearly the firings of 9 U.S. Attorneys during the Bush Administration was a low point for the Justice Department during that era. But just as shameful has been the efforts made by Bush Aides Karl Rove and Harriet Miers to avoid testifying before Congress to help clear up some questions. Finally something has been worked out. Let the fun begin.

By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — Attorneys for former president George W. Bush, the U.S. House of Representatives and the Obama administration reached agreement yesterday to resolve a long-running dispute over the scope of executive power, a move that will allow lawmakers to question Bush aides Karl Rove and Harriet E. Miers about their roles in the firing of nine federal prosecutors in 2006.

The pact follows weeks of negotiations led by White House Counsel Gregory B. Craig, who wanted to avert a federal court showdown that could have restricted the authority of the president in future disputes with other branches of government.

Under the terms of the deal, former presidential adviser Rove and former White House lawyer Miers will testify before the House Judiciary Committee in transcribed interviews, under penalty of perjury, but without cameras, reporters or members of the public in attendance. The transcripts eventually will be published, the agreement said.

The settlement gives the Judiciary Committee access to long-sought internal documents prepared by the Bush White House and the Justice Department from December 2004 through March 2007 about the politically explosive firing of the nine prosecutors.

For Full Story

Former Fired U.S. Atty. David Iglesias Comments on Latest Development (TPMmuckraker)

Here’s One of the Agreements Rove Worked Out Before Agreeing to Testify (TPMmuckraker)

Congressman Rush Holt Wants an Anthrax Commission to Investigate the Investigation

Rep. Rush Holt
Rep. Rush Holt

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON – The anthrax caper just won’t go away.
Rep Rush Holt (D-N.J.) on Tuesday introduced legislation to create a Congressional commission to investigate the government’s response to the 2001 anthrax attacks that left five dead and sickened 17.

The legislation, the Anthrax Attacks Investigation Act of 2009, would set up a bipartisan commission that would make recommendations to the President and Congress on “how the country can best prevent and respond to any future bio-terrorism attacks”, according to Holt’s office.

“All of us – but especially the families of the victims of the anthrax attacks – deserve credible answers about how the attacks happened and whether the case really is closed,” Holt said in a prepared statement.

“The Commission, like the 9/11 Commission, would do that, and it would help American families know that the government is better prepared to protect them and their children from future bio-terrorism attacks.”

“Myriad questions remain about the anthrax attacks and the government’s bungled response to the attacks,” Holt said.

Debbie Weierman, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Washington field office, declined to comment on Wednesday on the bill.

The FBI spent years and millions of dollars following countless leads around the world centering on what turned out to be the wrong suspect- scientist Steven Hatfill. Internally, many in law enforcement circles privately blamed the lead FBI investigator for fixating on Hatfill and not looking beyond him.

That FBI investigator was eventually replaced and last summer FBI and Postal Inspectors began closing in on someone they believed was the real culprit — scientist Dr. Bruce Ivins. Ivins committed suicide before any charges were filed.

The deadly laced anthrax letters were apparently sent from a postal box in Rep. Holt’s district in Central New Jersey.