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State Department: FBI Director Meant No Disrespect in Column about Holocaust

Director James B. Comey

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Following a torrent of criticism over his column last week about the Holocaust, FBI Director James Comey emphasized that he did not mean to suggest that Poland was responsible for the genocide of Jews, NBC News reports.

His comments come after Poland’s ambassador called the remarks “unacceptable.” Even the U.S. ambassador to Warsaw was called by Polish authorities.

In the column, Comey said: “In their minds, the murderers and accomplices of Germany, and Poland, and Hungary, and so many, many other places didn’t do something evil. They convinced themselves it was the right thing to do, the thing they had to do.”

A State Department spokeswoman said the U.S. “recognizes and admires the brave efforts of countless Poles, Hungarians and others in occupied Europe in protecting their Jewish countrymen and women from Nazi genocide.

“Director Comey certainly did not intend to suggest otherwise, did not intend to suggest that Poland was in some way responsible for the Holocaust,” the spokeswoman added.

DEA Has Chance to ‘Change Culture Within Its Walls’ with New Leader

By The Daily Iowan
Editorial Board

The DEA chief, Michele Leonhart, is stepping down amid heated congressional hearings into her agency’s scandals involving sex parties and compromised information leaked to Colombian drug lords. An internal report documented that prostitutes, sex parties, and undercover apartments were paid for by government money from 2001 to 2005 in Colombia.

Although Leonhart did not publicly cite the intense scrutiny from public officials in the hearings and in the media as the reason for her departure, it’s fair to assume that it played a huge role. She has served the DEA for 35 years and has been chief since her nomination by President Obama in 2010, but much of her tenure has been regarded by many in the White House as facilitating an agency with no regards for rules or consequences.

When it came time to punish 10 DEA agents accused of the aforementioned misconduct in Colombia, only seven had been issued suspensions, all consisting of fewer than two weeks. But nobody was fired. Agents accused of having sex with prostitutes in Colombia only face what is seen by many as a glorified slap-on-the-wrist in the form of a few days vacation.

Why Leonhart did not fire any agents she attributes to the lack of power that a DEA chief actually has to effectively remove workers. The extraordinary job security through civil-service protections make it incredibly difficult to fire appointed agents. But it is not definitively clear if she had had the ability to do so would have fired those affiliated with the scandal, and that is the real problem.

When a culture exists in an agency where there is no incentive to be ethical and professional, no consequences for wrongdoings, it becomes a place that breeds egregious behavior such as the acts committed in Colombia. It’s a “don’t ask for permission, only ask for forgiveness” way of thinking that has permeated through the lifeblood of the DEA and it will not end until new leadership is in place and more power is granted to Leonhart’s replacement to expunge agents in extreme cases such as this.

The American people deserve a new DEA, chief who will change the culture within its walls.

To read more click here. 

Loretta Lynch Makes History: Senate Confirms Her as First African American Woman Attorney General

Loretta Lynch

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Making history doesn’t always come easy.

But that’s what Loretta Lynch did on Thursday, finally securing the Senate confirmation as the new Attorney General, the first African American to do so.

The five month battle played out, with some Republicans opposing her because of her view on immigration reform.

CNN reported that the vote was 56-43.

Ten Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, joined Democrats, CNN reported. Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz was the only senator not to vote.

Gang Land Exclusive: Feds Tie Howard Beach Home Invasions To Last Year’s Lufthansa Heist Indictment

Jerry Capeci is regarded as an expert on the mob. His website, Gang Land News, is a paid subscription site.  This article was published with permission.

By Jerry Capeci
Gang Land News

Federal authorities have linked an imprisoned Bonanno soldier to abrazen gang of mob associates who pulled off dozens of home invasion robberies and burglaries in Howard Beach and nearby communities, Gang Lang has learned.

The wiseguy, John (Bazoo) Ragano, was one of five defendants in an indictment that charged an aging capo with the storied $6 million Lufthansa heist depicted in the 1990 mob movie classic, Goodfellas.

Sources say the feds suspect Ragano of fingering the owner of an Ozone Park auto repair shop — Bonanno associate Robert Cotrone — for robbery.

Seven weeks after Ragano’s arrest in the Lufthansa case, a trio of armed thugs invaded Cotrone’s Howard Beach home, stealing thousands of dollars in cash and jewelry.

Ragano had “worked” for Cotrone at Bam’s Auto Body, but in a telling display of mob duplicity, he allegedly gave Cotrone up to the robbery team because he knew the auto repair shop owner was on his own after his longtime mob protector was locked up. The protector, Bonanno capo Vincent Asaro, was detained without bail for the airline robbery. Cotrone has allegedly made years of “protection” payments to Asaro, even once testifying as a defense witness for him.

A law enforcement official familiar with the case put it this way: “Money, of course, was very important” to Ragano. “The guy’s a gangster. Locked up, he needs cash. The other guy (Cotrone) is unprotected; his guy (Asaro) just got put away. There’s no honor with these guys, it’s survival of the fittest.

It’s simple: He needed the money, he knew there’d be no payback. Makes no difference to him that he’s going to steal his dough.”

According to court papers in the Lufthansa prosecution, Ragano, 53, was inducted into the Bonanno crime family about three years ago, and was a ready and willing enforcer for his mob superior, Asaro, based on what Ragano was heard saying during the FBI investigation.

Read more »

Former CIA Director Petraeus Faces Sentencing for Leaking Classified Information

Former CIA Director David Petraeus

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Former CIA Director David Petraeus faces sentencing Thursday for allegedly leaking classified information to a mistress who was writing his biography, Reuters reports. 

The retired U.S. Army General has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material.

But Petraeus won’t be sent to prison because of an agreement he made with prosecutors in March to pay a $40,000 fine and receive two years of probation.

A federal judge, however, is not bound by the agreement with prosecutors.

Petraeus reigned from the CIA in 2012 following the revelation that he was having an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.

Proponents of Medical, Recreational Marijuana Celebrate DEA Head’s Resignation

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The resignation of DEA Director Michele Leonhart is a big victory for proponents of medical and even recreational marijuana.

Leonhart was steadfastly – some say stubbornly – opposed to pot use and even ignored President Obama’s assertion that federal agencies should respect the marijuana laws of each state.

“The real reason we’re glad to see this longtime DEA administration official go is her antiquated and unreasonable views on marijuana,” The Star-Ledger wrote in an editorial for Thursday.”We don’t need our nation’s top drug enforcement officer to be wasting any more taxpayer dollars on totally pointless pot prosecutions.”

Drug reform experts also celebrated Leonhart’s departure.

“We are happy to see her go,” Dan Riffle, the director of federal policies at the Marijuana Policy Project, told Time. “She’s a career drug warrior at a time when we’ve decided the ‘War on Drugs’ is an abject failure.”

Leonhart, a 35-year veteran of the DEA, served as the head of the administration since 2007.

Reason.com Editorial: FBI Cuts Constitutional Corners, Breaks Law

Editorial
reason.com editorial

Does the FBI manifest fidelity, bravery, and integrity, or does it cut constitutional corners in order to incriminate? Can the FBI cut the cable television lines to your house and then show up pretending to be the cable guy and install listening devices? Can FBI agents and technicians testify falsely and cause the innocent to be convicted, incarcerated and, in some cases, executed?

In 2014, FBI agents in Las Vegas were on the trail of Wei Seng Phua, whom they believed was running an illegal gambling operation out of his hotel room at Caesars Palace. Instead of following him, asking questions about him, and using other traditional investigative techniques, a few agents came up with the idea of planting a wiretap in Phua’s hotel room.

They bribed a hotel employee, who gave them access to a place in the hotel where they could disable the cable television wires to Phua’s room. When he called for repair, they showed up pretending to be cable guys, and he let them into his room. They repaired what they had disabled, but they also illegally wiretapped the phones in the room. Then they overheard his telephone conversations about his illegal gambling, and they arrested him. A grand jury indicted him based on what was overheard.

The grand jury was not told of the wire cutting and the con job, but a federal judge was. Last week, he criticized the FBI for conducting an illegal search of Phua’s room, in direct contravention of the Fourth Amendment, which the agents swore to uphold, and he barred the government from using the tapes of the telephone conversations as evidence against Phua. If the government can get away with this, he ruled, then constitutional guarantees are meaningless.

These lawless agents should have been indicted by a state grand jury for breaking and entering by false pretense, but Caesars declined to seek their prosecution. No surprise.

It was surprising, however, when the FBI was forced to admit last week that in the 1980s and 1990s, its agents and lab technicians who examined hair samples testified falsely in 257 of 268 cases that resulted in convictions. Of the convictions, 18 persons were sentenced to death, and of those, 12 have been executed.

Some of these cases were federal, but most were state prosecutions in which state and county prosecutors hired the FBI to perform lab tests and compare hair samples from a crime scene with a defendant’s known hair sample. The faulty lab work and erroneous testimony destroyed the freedom of hundreds and the lives of 12, squandered millions in tax dollars, and impaired the constitutional values we all embrace.

To read more click here. 

Secret Service Failed to Fix Alarm at Former President Bush’s House for 1+ Year

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

For more than a year, former president George H.W. Bush’s home had a broken alarm system and Secret Service failed to fix it, the Washington Post reports. 

Although the alarm system monitors the property and the house, the agency rejected requests to replace it since 2010, according to an inspector general report.

For at least 13 months, the 20-year-old alarm system didn’t function and wasn’t fixed. It wasn’t until November or December of 2014 that the replacement was made.

Although the Secret Service provided an agent to take place of the broken alarm, the report said that was insufficient.

Agency officials said technology problems are common.

“The service, supported by the department, is making it a priority to go through all of the security systems for all of the protectees, whether they are current officials or former presidents,” said an official who spoke on condition of anonymity. “It’s the department’s and the service’s job to always be concerned about their security, particularly in light of recent things we’ve learned.”

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