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LA Times Editorial: Indictment of L.A. County Undersheriff Holds Highest Officias Accountable

By Editorial Board
Los Angeles Times

The encouraging message in the indictment Thursday of former Los Angeles County Undersheriff Paul Tanaka on charges of obstructing an FBI investigation into the jails is that wrongdoers at the highest level of county government will be held accountable.

The indictments of Tanaka and former Capt. William “Tom” Carey, who oversaw the department’s internal criminal investigations, end the worry that federal prosecutors only went after the frontline deputies. So what about then-Sheriff Lee Baca? Did he direct Tanaka to frustrate the FBI probe? Or was he perhaps so detached and clueless that he could not see what Tanaka and other top department officials were doing under his nose?

That’s important, because for months it appeared that top leaders of the Sheriff’s Department might escape consequences for any role they played in separating a jailed bank robber-turned FBI informant from his handlers in a 2011 federal probe into abuse of inmates by deputies. Seven deputies were convicted and sentenced last year in the scheme to conceal the informant while Tanaka, rumored to be the mastermind of the operation, campaigned to become the new sheriff. Jim McDonnell easily defeated him, but in the ensuing months there were only occasional hints that Tanaka ultimately might be held to answer for any misdeeds.

It’s necessary to keep in mind that although Tanaka and Carey were indicted on suspicion of obstruction of justice, the underlying investigation targeted brutality in the jails; that investigation is ongoing. The structure, culture and oversight of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department all contributed to a pattern of abuse of inmates and substandard jail conditions, problems that were so severe that they overshadowed the coverups, aggressive deputy cliques, racially biased patrolling in the Antelope Valley and other intolerable practices.

Some of those problems appear to have been exacerbated upon Baca’s appointment of Tanaka as undersheriff, and it will be tempting to believe they began at that point and ended with Tanaka’s 2013 retirement, last year’s election, Thursday’s indictment or some future indictment or conviction.

Texas Man Accused of Lying to FBI about Joining ISIS

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Texas man has been arrested after lying to the FBI about his allegiance to ISIS, according to a criminal complaint.

NBC DFW reports that Bilal Abood, 37, of Mesquite, faces up to eight years in prison for making a false statement to the FBI. http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/FBI-Mesquite-Man-Pledged-Allegiance-to-ISIS-Leader-303803121.html

A licensed security guard, Abood was born in Iraq and moved to the U.S. in 2009, becoming a naturalized American citizen.

Abood was captured while trying to travel from D/FW International Airport, where he told officials he was going to visit family. The FBI said he was actually going to fight for ISIS.

The complaint alleges that Abood admitted planning to go to Syria to fight with the Free Syrian Army.

Review: ‘1971’ Tells Story of Americans Who Broke into FBI Field Office

Dorothy Rabinowitz 
Wall Street Journal

“1971,” an Independent Lens documentary, resurrects the story of a group of Americans involved in the anti-war movement, who broke into a small field office of the FBI that year and stole its files—an act this film describes in worshipful terms, as it does the small band of activists who took part. These many decades later, the former burglars (none of them ever caught) seem to have got on with their lives, brought up their children—one or two even hint at having grown a bit more conservative.

Filmmaker Johanna Hamilton, is however, of another mind entirely—one that sees in them national heroes comparable to those in the great pantheon of classified-secrets leakers known to the world today. Watch the film’s camera linger reverentially on the gritty little bits of leftover hardware preserved by the burglar who had picked the lock on the door of that FBI office.

The film’s source of inspiration, made clear from the outset, is, not surprisingly, Edward Snowden. There are, Ms. Hamilton has said, “a lot of similarities between Edward Snowden and the burglars.”

A large claim, and still another indicator of the heroic status accorded Mr. Snowden by acolytes in the press, Libertarian and leftist ideologues, the anti-anti-terror legions, and assorted other groupies prepared to believe that government surveillance, intelligence secrecy itself, are threats far greater than enemy attack.

Border Patrol Supervisor Pleads Guilty to Spying on Women in Restroom in California

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Border Patrol supervisor accused of placing a hidden camera in the flood drain of a women’s bathroom pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of making a false statement to a federal officer and seven counts of video voyeurism.

Armando Gonzalez also admitted he lied when asked by superiors why he had placed a camera in the restroom in San Ysidro, Calif.,  saying at the time that he was conducting a drug investigation.

Gonzalez captured video of the women’s private parts between July 2013 and April 2014.

Gonzalez kept the videos at work and destroyed evidence that he had at home.

“These crimes are an assault on the dignity of victims who are left to feel violated, powerless, anxious and unsafe,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. “It will always be a priority to protect our federal employees and the public from such despicable invasions of privacy.”

“The conduct in this case involves a violation of trust and common decency committed against the victims in this case,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge, Eric S. Birnbaum. “We believe that today’s plea is the first step in bringing justice and a sense of closure to the victims in this case.”

TSA Whistleblower Reinstated After Supreme Court Defends His Actions

tsa.gov

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A TSA air marshal who was fired for telling the media about the impact on budget cuts has been reinstated after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Robert MacLean was a justified whistleblower.

The USA Today reports that MacLean, who flew undercover to thwart terrorism, told MSNBC in 2003 that the TSA was reducing the number of marshals on overnight flights, a plan that drew harsh criticism from Congress.

Even though TSA reversed its decision, MacLean was terminated for disclosing “sensitive security information.”

In arriving at the ruling, the justices said whistle-blower protections in this case trumped bans on disclosing sensitive information.

The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in MacLean’s favor.

Other Stories of Interest


Secret Service Agent on Obama Detail Who Was Under Investigation is Resigning

secret service photo

 
By Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post

WASHINGTON — A top member of President Obama’s Secret Service detail under investigation for his conduct during a White House bomb threat probe notified the agency this week that he plans to retire, according to officials familiar with his decision.

The decision by Marc Connolly came ahead of the public release of a report concluding that he and a colleague were “more likely than not” impaired by alcohol on the night of March 4 as they drove into a temporary barricade and directly beside a suspicious package that was under investigation as a possible bomb, the investigative report says.

The findings are scheduled to be the subject of a congressional hearing Thursday.

To read more click here. 

Investigators Comb Through Train Wreckage for Clues to Deadly Crash

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Investigators were combing through the debris from an Amtrak train crash Tuesday night that killed at least seven people and injured more than 200, The New York Times reports. 

The National Transportation Safety Board, which is leading the probe, will “look at everything that could have led to this occurrence,” lead investigator Robert Sumwalt said.

The train was traveling 106 mph when it hurtled off the tracks.

“We’re trying to understand why was that truing going that fast,” Sumwalt said.

It wasn’t yet clear whether speed was the only factor in the crash.

Baltimore Landfill Workers Accused of Taking Kickbacks, Stealing Scrap Metal

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A two-year investigation into the Baltimore landfills has led to the arrests of five employees accused to taking bribes and stealing scrap metal, the Baltimore Sun reports.

The workers were arrested and charged in U.S. District Court following several raids.

Some are accused of taking bribes from commercial haulers in exchange for using the facility without paying disposal fees.

Some workers also are accused to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of scrap metal from the landfills.

Public Works Director Rudy Chow wouldn’t comment directly on the charges but said “there is no room for unethical or illegal behavior in the Baltimore City Department of Public Works.”