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Thank Goodness for Holder The Boys & Girls Clubs of America is On His Side

Eric Holder

Eric Holder

By Allan Lengel
Ticklethewire.com

You know Eric Holder Jr. would have really been in big trouble if the Boys & Girls Clubs of America had opposed his confirmation for Attorney general.
Though it’s hardly a big deal– it would have been if it opposed him — the club has written the Senate Judiciary and praised Holder’s nomination.
In a letter dated Jan. 12, the group’s president and chief executive Roxanne Spillett, wrote:
“It is with great pride that, on behalf of Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA), I send this letter in support of Mr. Eric Holder on his nomination as Attorney General of the United States. Mr. Holder understands the value of working in the community as a tool to help prevent and reduce crime in some of the most distressed cities and neighborhoods in this country. He has a proven track record of doing so throughout his career, especially as it relates to his work with BGCA.Boys & Girls Clubs of America has enjoyed a strong partnership with Congress and the Department of Justice for a number of years. We provide programs and services for thousands of young people in some of the most distressed
communities.”
Now if he can only round up the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts.

Read Complete Letter

Ex-State Dept. Worker Pleads To Illegally Accessing Passport Applications of Celebrities

By Allan Lengel
Ticklethewire.com

A former State Department employee pleaded guilty Wednesday in Washington to illegally accessing passport applications of more than 150 celebrities, actors, musicians, comedians, models, politicians, athletes and media members out of “idle curiosity”, the Justice Department said.
Dwayne F. Cross, 41, of Upper Marlboro, Md., pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola to one count of unauthorized computer access, the Justice Department said. Sentencing is set for March 23. Last fall, another State Department employee pleaded guilty to the same offense.
Cross was an administrative Assistant in the Diplomatic Security Abduction Unit, Counter Intelligence at the State Department. In March 2008, he returned as a contract employee for the acquisition office.
According to plea agreement, Cross said he had access to State Department computer data bases including the Passport Information Electronic Records System (PIERS), which contains applications dating back to 1994, the Justice Department said.
The PIERS system includes a photograph of the passport applicant as well as certain personal information: the applicant’s full name, date and place of birth, current address, telephone numbers, parent information, spouse’s name and emergency contact information, the Justice Department said. The confidential files are protected by the Privacy Act of 1974, and are only available for official government business..
In pleading guilty, Cross admitted that between January 2002 and August 2007, he looked ” at passport applications of more than 150 celebrities, actors, musicians, comedians, models, politicians, athletes, members of the media, family members, friends, associates and others”, the Justice Department said.

Read Government’s Statement of Facts

Who Will Bush Pardon at Last Moment?

You just know President Bush will pardon some big names just before he exits 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The question now is simply Who?

By Scott Horton
The American Lawyer

For George Washington there was an obvious time for potentially controversial pardons, and that was the day he left office. Washington pardoned the instigators of the Whiskey Rebellion as his last official act. He had good reason to keep a low profile. The Federalists hated the decision. They thought it would fuel uprisings by moonshine-swilling frontiersmen-and they were right.
The tradition of controversial pardons has continued ever since. Gerald Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon remains the benchmark, but George H.W. Bush’s pardon of 75 people caught up in the Iran-Contra scandal and Bill Clinton’s pardon of fugitive billionaire and presidential library supporter Marc Rich register high on the scale.
Ironically, the Rich pardon was engineered by two people very much in the news. One is Scooter Libby, who was a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Dechert at the time. Libby, of course, was convicted of obstruction of justice and perjury in the Valerie Plame affair. His sentence was commuted by President George W. Bush; he is now seeking an extension of that commutation to a full-blown pardon.
The other is Attorney General-designate Eric Holder Jr., who served as deputy attorney general in the last days of the Clinton presidency and pushed the Rich pardon. Holder antici­pates embarrassing questioning on the pardon issue when his nomination comes before the Senate Judiciary Committee, but at present it doesn’t look like a show-stopper.
For Full Story

The Big Question is Whether Congress Should Go After Misdeeds of Bush Administration

The big question will be whether Congress wants to explore some misdeeds of the past or move forward. With all the confusion in Washington and the economy in the dumps, it may be a little harder to get the American people behind them to go after the those misdeeds.

Rep. John Conyers

Rep. John Conyers

By Zachary Roth
TalkingPointsMemo

Over the weekend, President-Elect Obama said we should “look forward as opposed to looking backwards” on the question of prosecuting Bush administration officials for torture, illegal wiretapping, and other possible crimes committed in the name of national security.
But yesterday, the House Judiciary committee got behind a very different approach, releasing a nearly 500-page report that recommends establishing a blue-ribbon commission — along the lines of the 9/11 commission, but with subpoena power — to investigate whether crimes were committed. (Last week, as we reported over at Election Central, Judiciary chair John Conyers and nine other lawmakers introduced a bill to set up such a commission.)
Read More

The full report

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Sen. Believes Ex-FBI Agent in Secret Iran Prison

The sad tale of ex-FBI agent Robert Levinson goes on. Here’s the latest twist.

Robert Levinson/photo helpboblevinson.com

Robert Levinson/photo helpboblevinson.com

By Fox News
A U.S. senator revealed Tuesday that he believes a former FBI agent who disappeared in Iran nearly two years ago is being held in a secret prison there – much to the surprise of the ex-agent’s wife.
Sen. Bill Nelson’s comments on the disappearance of Robert Levinson came during Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s secretary of state confirmation hearing in Washington.
“I haven’t received any information about my husband,” Levinson’s wife, Christine, told The Associated Press.
For Full Story

FBI Launches System to Share Terrorism Tips with Local Police

FBI Dir. Robert Mueller III

FBI Dir. Robert Mueller III

Historically, local law enforcement has complained about the FBI not sharing enough information. There may still be complaints after this, but it may help deflect some complaints.

By DEVLIN BARRETT
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON — The FBI has launched a system to share tips about possible terror threats with local police agencies just in time for the presidential inauguration.
The program aims to get law enforcement at all levels sharing data quickly about suspicious activity and people, particularly in and around the nation’s capital in the week leading up to the historic ceremony.
Officials say they are getting as many as 1,000 tips a day from the public.
Called e-Guardian, the program had been delayed and underwent a smaller pilot project before launching New Year’s Eve as a system available to law enforcement agencies around the country.
Federal authorities hope the new system overcomes a drawback of another version, which lets police report their suspicions to the FBI but doesn’t allow officers to search the system for similar patterns in other jurisdictions.

For Full Story

Inspector Gen. Says Ideological Considerations Tainted Hiring Process At Justice Civil Rights Division

Bradley Schlozman

Bradley Schlozman

Here’s just another disturbing footnote in the Justice Department in the Bush years.
By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — Ideological considerations permeated the hiring process at the Justice Department’s civil rights division, where a politically appointed official sought to hire “real Americans” and Republicans for career posts and prominent case assignments, according to a long awaited report released this morning by the department’s inspector general.
The extensive study of hiring practices between 2001 and 2007 concluded that a former department official improperly weeded out candidates based on their perceived ties to liberal organizations. Two other senior managers failed to oversee the process, authorities said.
The key official, former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Bradley Schlozman, favored employees who shared his political views and derided others as “libs” and “pinkos,” the report said.
For Full Story
To Read Report

Read Additional Information (Washington Post)

What Constitutes a Suspicious Incident in Aviation Today?

Chad Wolf

Chad Wolf

 

By Chad Wolf
Security DeBrief
What constitutes a suspicious incident in aviation today? This is the fundamental question that led to nine Muslim passengers being kicked off an Air Tran Airways flight on New Year’s Day.
By now, we’ve all heard the series of events that transpired – several Muslim passengers were discussing airline safety and security while boarding the flight; other passengers reported this “suspicious” behavior to the flight attendant who in turn reported it to the pilot in command; the pilot, with the assistance of Federal Air Marshals, asked that all the passengers be re-screened and then refused to transport the nine passengers in question.
Put aside the pilot’s decision to refuse transport (a decision he/she is permitted to make without much outside review) as well as Air Tran’s apparent lack of customer service skills, and what remains is a regulatory requirement from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to all domestic and in-bound international airlines to report any suspicious incidents immediately to TSA. TSA’s purpose for this requirement is simple: to identify any individual incidents / issues that are occurring and determine if there’s any system-wide pattern or similar events taking place across the aviation system (in other words – to connect the dots). 

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