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Los Angeles Times Editorial: Civil Rights Division Nominee Deserves Better

 
 
By The Los Angeles Times
Editorial Board

Debo Adegbile, President Obama‘s nominee to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, is an experienced litigator and  specialist in civil rights law. In a rational world, he would receive unanimous confirmation. But as the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares to vote on his nomination, Adegbile faces opposition from conservatives who don’t like his legal philosophy and a law enforcement group that won’t forgive him for participating in the appeal of a man convicted of killing a police officer.

Neither objection has merit. Like any president, Obama is entitled to Justice Department officials who share his views. As for the charge that Adegbile is hostile to law enforcement, it’s based on a fundamental misunderstanding of a lawyer’s role.

The most sensational — and unfair — criticism of Adegbile involves the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted of killing a Philadelphia police officer in 1981. Adegbile and other attorneys at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund filed a brief with the Supreme Court in 2009 asserting that Abu-Jamal’s conviction was invalid because of racial discrimination in jury selection. Two years later they represented Abu-Jamal directly when prosecutors asked the Supreme Court to reinstate his death sentence.

The Fraternal Order of Police complained to Obama that Abu-Jamal’s “just sentence — death — was undone by your nominee and others like him.” Actually, it was a federal appeals court that overturned Abu-Jamal’s death sentence, citing flawed jury instructions.

To read more click here.

Lawyer Nominated for Key Justice Department Post Faces Increased Pressure

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Obama’s nominee of a key Justice Department position is coming under more attack.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett and former Gov. Tom Ridge urged the U.S. Senate to reject Debo Adegbile because he helped overturn the death penalty for a convicted cop killer.

Still, the Senate Judiciary Committee narrowly approved Adegbile to lead the Civil Rights Division, placing his fate in the hands of the full Senate.

In 2011, Adegbile helped get the death penalty tossed in the case of a Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted in 1982 of murdering a Philadelphia police officer.

Former Stanford University Student Successfully Sues to Be Removed from No-Fly List

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former Stanford University student became the first person to successfully challenge placement on a government’s no-fly list, Wired.com reports.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup said Thursday that an FBI agent “erroneously nominated” Rahinah Ibrahim to the list in 2004. The agent, Michael Kelly, “checked the wrong boxes, filling out the form exactly the opposite way from the instructions on the form.”

The Malaysian woman discovered she was on the no-fly list in December 2005 when she was detained and handcuffed while trying to travel to Hawaii to present a paper on affordable housing.

She sued, and despite the mistakes, federal authorities challenged her in court.

TSA Official Not Charged with Sex Crime After Woman Claims Excessive Groping

tsa.gov

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A TSA official won’t be charged with a crime after a woman accused him of sexually assaulting her during a search at the Denver International Airport, RT.com reports.

Jamelyn Steenhoek, 39, complained in December that she was subjected to a “pretty invasive search” after being stopped at an airport checkpoint. She said the TSA officer cupped her crotch and groped her breasts.

“I felt sick to my stomach,” Steenhoek said to CBS Denver. “Those TSA agents were purposely abusive to me. And there isn’t any recourse. I still feel as if a crime was committed, and as an individual American I am powerless to do anything about it.”

The district attorney said there wasn’t enough evidence to prove sexual assault.

“We would be unable to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Lynn Kimbrough, spokeswoman for the local District Attorney’s Office.

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Ex-FBI Agent: ‘I Wouldn’t Send My Family’ to Olympics in Sochi

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The dangers at the Olympics in Sochi, Russia can’t be overlooked, a former FBI agent warned.

NBC Charlotte reports that Chris Swecker, who led security efforts at the Olympics in Salt Lake City following the Sept. 11 attacks, said the large world stage is a magnet for terrorists.

“It’s the largest world stage. It’s where if you’re a terrorist organization, and you want to call attention to your cause, this is the No. 1 event to do that,” Swecker said.

Swecker described the threats as “nonstop” when he was in Salt Lake City.

“I mean the whole time we were there we were fielding just dozens of threats.”

“I wouldn’t send my family over there right now,” Swecker said. “My biggest concern would be the areas where western people are known to frequent.”

Homeland Security Warns Airlines of Possible Toothpaste Tube Bomb

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Air carriers flying to the Winter Olympics in Russia are being warned to look out for toothpaste tubes containing material for a bomb, Bloomberg reports.

The warning comes just days before the start of the Olympics, where officials are on extra alert.

It’s unclear what prompted the warnings, and Homeland Security would only say that it “regularly shares relevant information with domestic and international partners, including those associated with international events such as the Sochi Olympics.”

Officials are worried about terrorists targeting the Olympics in Sochi, a few hundred miles from where terrorists have been battling Russians, Bloomberg wrote.

Throwing Stars, Skull Fragments, Grenades: You Won’t Believe the Items Confiscated by TSA in 2013?

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The better question might be – what wasn’t confiscated from U.S. airports in 2013?

The TSA discovered guns, grenades, throwing stars and human skull fragments on travelers at checkpoints, WSBT.com reports, citing a TSA blogger.

Security found a stun gun in a cane and pepper spray disguised as lipstick. 

“Our officers regularly find sword canes, credit card knives, belt buckle knives, comb/brush knives, knives hidden in shoes, knives hidden in thermoses and knives hidden under the bag lining near the handle mechanism,” TSA blogger Bob Burns wrote.

The busiest airport for guns was Atlanta International, where 111 firearms were found.

 

Nearly a Year Later, FBI Still Uncertain What Motivated Sophisticated Sniper Attack on Power Substation

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is still uncertain what motivated a sophisticated sniper attack at a Silicon Valley power substation last year.

The New York Times reports that the attack exposed the vulnerability of electrical grids and led to concerns that terrorists were responsible.

But the FBI has found no strong evidence to link the attack with terrorists.

“The F.B.I. at this time does not believe it is related to terrorism, based on the initial assessment of the investigation,” Peter Lee, an agency spokesman in San Francisco, said.

On April 16, communication cables were methodically cut near a Pacific Gas & Electric substation in San Jose, and more than 100 rifle bullets disabled most of the station’s transformers.

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