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Maryland Makes Big Pledge to FBI in Hopes of Luring New Headquarters

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com
 
Maryland is trying its best to lure the FBI’s headquarters to the state. 

The Washington Post reports that Maryland and Prince George County have pledged to commit hundreds of millions of dollars on road improvements if the FBI relocates from downtown Washington to Greenbelt or Landover.

Support has also come from the state’s congressional delegation.

Maryland is locked in a tight competition for the headquarters with Springfield in Fairfax County.

The headquarters will bring an estimated 11,000 FBI jobs.

Justice Department Investigating Milwaukee U.S. Attorney for Alleged Misuse of Credit Card

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

U.S. Attorney James Santelle is under investigation on accusations that he misused the government-assigned credit card and violated a law barring federal employees from some political activities, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

The Department of Justice is leading the investigation, which started more than a  year ago following a routine audit.

Investigators are trying to determine whether the credit card was used for non-official use, like food.

Santelle, who works in Milwaukee, declined to comment.

“I am not in a position to comment other than those matters are both with the Department of Justice,” he said Monday.

FBI’s Fabled Behavioral Analysis Unit to Investigate Hanging Death of Black Man

Otis Byrd

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI will use its Behavioral Analysis Unit to investigate the hanging death of Mississippi man Otis Byrd, the USA Today reports.

The unit  “focuses specifically on criminal human behavior in an attempt to better understand criminals — who they are, how they think, why they do what they do — as a means to help solve crimes,” according to FBI.gov.

The hope is that the unit will help determine whether Byrd, 54, committed suicide or was murdered.

He was found hanging from a tree by a bed sheet near his last known residence last week.

Investigation of Democratic Senator Gives New Chances to DOJ’s Public Integrity Section

Robert Menendez

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The revamped anti-corruption unit of the Justice Department ha an opportunity to redeem itself in the federal corruption investigation of Sen. Robert Menendez, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The top leadership of the Public Integrity Section resigned after an embarrassing slip up led to the dismissal of Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens’ conviction.

“Now the unit — created in the Watergate era to ferret out political corruption — has the chance to restore its tattered reputation with what is likely to be its first prosecution of a sitting U.S. senator since Stevens,” The Times wrote.

The Justice Department is expected soon to decide whether to charge the New Jersey Democrat, who is accused of receiving gifts in exchange for helping a Florida doctor’s business in the Caribbean.

“I think the Public Integrity Section got totally gun-shy after Stevens,” said Melanie Sloan, a former federal prosecutor who is a lawyer for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group. “Since Stevens, they prosecuted John Edwards for a nonexistent crime, and they failed to prosecute John Ensign for clearly established ones.”

 

Suspect Fatally Shot by Border Patrol Agent Wanted for Murder in Washington

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The man shot and killed by a Border Patrol agent last week was wanted for murder, KMVT.com reports. 

Investigators said a man was crossing the border illegally in Sumas in Washington when the shooting occurred.

“The subject refused the agents commands then assaulted one of the agents with an unknown incapacitating spray,” said Dan M. Harris Jr., chief Border Patrol agent for the Blaine sector.

Turns out, the suspect, 20-year-old Jamison Childress, was wanted for murder outside Whatcom County, where the shooting happened.

 

 

Washington Times: Why Homeland Security Is Sad Place to Work

By The Washington Times
Editorial Board

No department of the government has a mission more important than the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), created after Sept. 11, 2001 to defend and protect the towns and cities, the farms and factories of the American homeland. It ought to be one of the most attractive places in Washington to work, inspired by pride and sacrifice to deliver a job well done. But it isn’t. It’s one of the worst.

By one measure it has succeeded beyond bureaucratic dreams. The department has grown to encompass 22 agencies, with 168,000 full-time permanent employees. Armies become lean and mean when they fight on home soil, but this bureaucracy has become fat and forlorn. A survey by the Partnership for Public Service to determine the best place to work among large federal agencies ranks the Department of Homeland Security dead last. Both Democrats and Republicans in both the House and Senate are trying to find out why.

The bureaucrats have resorted to the usual “studies” and “task forces” to find out why everyone in the place is so sad. If that doesn’t answer the questions, they will commission another study to find out why the first study failed. Millions have been spent on these studies already.

Techdirt, an independent blog about the bureaucracies, reports that employees complain that “senior leaders are ineffective; that the department discourages innovation, and that promotions and raises are not based on merit. Others have described in interviews how a stifling bureaucracy and relentless congressional criticism makes DHS an exhausting, even infuriating, place to work.”

Now even Congress has noticed. The Washington Post reports that Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, a Democrat, last week wrote to ask Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to account for how the study money was spent. “The volume of reports that DHS has commissioned to address these issues is concerning,” she wrote, “and morale continues to remain low in the department. It is unclear who is commissioning these reports and who, if anyone, is reading them.” She is the ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. She wants answers by March 27, and asked Mr. Johnson “to provide costs and details of all studies DHS has done on employee morale in the past five years; the names and titles of each official who approved the studies; the recommendations they made and whether any were implemented, and whether any of the more recent studies were approved by [Mr.] Johnson or his appointees.”

To read more click here.

Other Stories of Interest


 

Retired FBI Agent To Appear on Q & A Panel in Detroit for Documentary on Mystery VA Hospital Deaths

Greg Stejskal was a young FBI agent in Detroit when he was assigned to a task force investigating the mysterious deaths of patients at the Ann Arbor Veterans Administration Hospital. He served as an FBI agent for 31 years and retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office.

Stejskal will appear on a Q & A panel Sunday at the Detroit Free Press Film Festival following the screening of a documentary on the mystery entitled “That Strange Summer.” The film will be shown at 12:30 p.m. Sunday at the Marvin and Betty Danto Lecture Hall at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Tickets are $10, $9 for DIA members and seniors.

Stejskal wrote a lengthy column about the VA deaths. It first appeared on the website, ticklethewire.com, in 2011.

Greg Stejskal
By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

In 1977, two , Filipina Narciso and Leonora Perez, were convicted of poisoning patients at the Ann Arbor Veterans Administration Hospital after one of the longest trials in U.S. history.

The prosecution and verdict became a cause celebre in Ann Arbor, across the nation and in the Philippines. It was widely believed the were made scapegoats as they were immigrant Filipinos.

Months after the convictions, the trial judge ordered a new trial because of his finding of prosecutorial misconduct. The case was never retried.

What little information about the case that is now available on the internet indicates that Narciso and Perez were innocent and “falsely accused.”

In an effort to at least the historical record, I have tried to write an objective of the case.

The case was a classic “whodunit,” and its resolution was worthy of Hercule Poirot or Sherlock Holmes. If this had been a mystery story, the hospital would have been a dark foreboding place, but it wasn’t.

The Ann Arbor Veterans Administration Hospital (VAH) was built in 1953 of reddish brick and generic government architecture. It sits on a hill above the meandering Huron River and on the edge of the north campus of the University of Michigan. This placid scene belied the events that occurred during the summer of 1975 in the hospital.

During a six week period of that summer, there was a sudden spike of patients experiencing breathing failures requiring emergency resuscitation (termed Code 7 emergencies with in the VAH).

Initially the medical staff was not overly concerned as such resuscitations are routine albeit not as frequent as they were beginning to experience. But as the incidents and became more frequent, the staff did become alarmed. Some of the patients were not revived and died.

One staff member, Dr. Anne Hill, an Irish born, Chief of Anesthesiology, was not only concerned, but began to suspect foul play. On August 15th, her suspicion coalesced into a conclusion that someone was intentionally poisoning patients. On that day there were three respiratory failures with in twenty minutes – each resulting in a Code 7 alert and requiring emergency resuscitation.

A Muscle Relaxant

Dr. Hill was present for all three of the Code 7 resuscitations. Upon seeing the first victim, she determined that based on the symptoms, a flaccid state, but with a pulse, the patient had been administered a powerful muscle relaxant.

After doing some diagnostic tests, she concluded that the drug Pavulon (pancuronium bromide) had been given to the patient. (Pavulon is the synthetic equivalent of curare, a plant derived toxin, used by some South American Indians to poison the tips of their blow-gun darts and arrows.)

Read more »

ATF Director B. Todd Jones Calling it Quits; Tom Brandon Will Step Up

US Attorney B. Todd Jones

Todd Jones

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

B. Todd Jones, the head of ATF, who first stepped in as acting director in 2011, and later became the first ATF directory in history to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, is stepping down, effective March 31.

The announcement from ATF came in a press release, which said he’s departing to pursue opportunities in the private sector. Jone’s number two person, Thomas Brandon, will step in as acting director.

“ATF employees are hard-working, dedicated individuals who serve the public to make our nation safer every day,” said Jones in a statement. “I have seen firsthand their extraordinary commitment to combatting violent crime, ridding the streets of criminals, and leveraging all available resources to keep our communities safe.”

“I will truly miss leading and working side-by-side with these men and women in their pursuit of ATF’s unique law enforcement and regulatory mission,” Jones added.

Jones initially held two jobs in 2011: He was named acting director of ATF while still serving as U.S. Attorney in Minnesota. President Obama nominated him for the permanent post on Jan. 24, 2013, and he ended his job as U.S. Attorney after being confirmed as ATF director.

Tom Brandon/atf photo

ATF Deputy Director Thomas E. Brandon will serve as Acting Director. Brandon was appointed Deputy Director of ATF in October 2011.