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FBI

ACLU: FBI Illegally Surveilling Muslims

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

It will always be a line hard to draw, between protecting the nation from another terrorist attack and reaching too far in the name of preemption. The American Civil Liberties Union sees the latter, though, and on Thursday said the FBI is using extensive community outreach among Muslims to gather intelligence secretively and illegally, reports  Jerry Markon of the Washington Post.

FBI agents in California illegally recorded information about individual’s political and religious affiliations while attending mosque gatherings and other events in Muslim communities, the ACLU says, citing internal bureau documents, according to the Post. FBI officials deny the allegations.

Some of the files the ACLU cites show FBI agents working with local communities to fight drugs and crimes. But others show agents recording Social Security numbers and other personal information, noting their political affiliations in at least one incident. The information seems to be used for follow-up investigations, but heavy redactions make it tough to come to firm conclusions, according to the Post.

To read more click here.

Round 2: Newark Feds Go for Retrial of Ex-Fed Prosecutor

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Round two is coming in the epic battle between the U.S. Attorney’s Office and ex-federal prosecutor Paul Bergrin, a high-profile  Newark defense attorney who was accused of orchestrating a 2004 murder of an FBI witness in a case in which he had a client.

The first round, for all practical purposes, went to Bergrin, after the jury deadlocked the day before Thanksgiving on the charges and the judge declared a mistrial.

Newark U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman and Assistant U.S. Attorney John Gay sent a letter dated Dec. 1 to U.S. District Judge William J. Martini stating:

“The Government formally requests to try the balance of the Second Superseding Indictment (Counts 1 through 11 and 14 through 33) on January 4, 2012, though it will not oppose a request to sever the tax counts (Counts 27 through 33). Further, the Government will not oppose any reasonable continuance Mr. Bergrin may need to prepare for trial.”

The government has also theorized that Bergrin allegedly orchestrated the hit of a witness to cover up the fact that he was allegedly supplying cocaine to drug gangs.

11 Arrested in Northern Virginia Guns and Weapons Ring

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

A three-year investigation focusing on drug and weapon rings came to an end with 11 arrests in Northern Virginia on Wednesday, reports the Washington Post. Some of those arrested had ties to street gangs.

The operation was primarily in Manassas and Fairfax County, and resulted in charges against more than 60 people.

ATF agents and local police outfits making up the Northern Virginia Violent Crimes Task Force made the arrests during raids on four houses, according to the Post.

Nine of the men were charged with conspiring to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, a charge that carries a maximum penalty of 40 years prison.

To read more click here.

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Column: Prosecutors May Be Overreaching in Recommending 15-20 Years for Blago

 

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

In political corruption cases, how much prison time is enough?

Fed prosecutors in the case of Rod Blagojevich — the world’s most talkative ex-governor — are recommending that he get 15 to 20 years at sentencing, which is set for Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

Yes, Blagojevich was a crook with a stupid chip implanted somewhere in that brain of his underneath that helmet-head of hair. But I think a 15 to 20 year sentence is excessive.

What’s the point of piling on?

Blago, who turns 55 on Dec. 10, four days after sentencing, would be 75 by the time he got released from prison if he were to be sentenced to 20 years. If he gets 10 years, he’ll be 65 by the time he goes free.  It’s not as if, when he gets out, the public will be in danger.

A prison term in this case is supposed to provide sufficient punishment and act as a deterrent to other crooked-leaning pols.

I think 10 to 12 years, as a Chicago Sun-Times writer Mark Brown suggests, does the trick.

A sentence of 10-12 is enough to discourage some — certainly not all — crooked politicians from committing crimes.

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FBI Lennon Files Released

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Beatles fans have their weekend cut out for them. A newly released trove of FBI files on John Lennon are now available online, through the bureau’s online database.

Along with two other stacks of previously released documents on the British rocker, the newly released documents focus on 1978 investigation of a violent threat made against Lennon. The previously released documents cover investigations of Lennon’s connection to various anti-war and other political and cultural groups.

To browse through the newly released files, click here. All three collections are available here.  

Amish Raid in Hate Crimes Turns Up Marijuana Seeds, Cocaine

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The Amish beard-cutting saga grows stranger and stranger. Talking Points Memo now reports that, along with scissors and clippers, federal agents also found evidence of marijuana and cocaine during a raid on the compound of the beard-cutting suspects.

As previously reported, the FBI investigated possible hate crimes among the Amish community when members of a breakaway sect began cutting the beards of mainstream Amish in eastern Ohio.

During a Wednesday bail hearing prosecutors also introduced video evidence of drug use, sex and information related to the beard-cutting attacks, according to TPM.

The raid was conducted on the breakaway Bergholz Clan and led to the arrest of the Clan’s leader Sam Mullet and six others, all charged with violating the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Police found Mullet giving sex counseling to the wife of a fellow Bergholz member, found marijuana seeds in the home and cocaine in the barn.

To read more click here.

 

Obama Grabbed by the Arm, Secret Service Swarm

Pres. Obama in Cannon Falls, Minn./white house photo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Apparently those dismal approval ratings are not the whole story. An adoring fan grabbed the president by the arm at Scranton High School in Pennsylvania on Wednesday as he shook hands with supporters.

ABC describes the president as walking into the high school to a “rock-star welcome” when the woman grabbed first the president’s hand, then his bicep, yanking him towards the crowd. Secret Service swarmed in but Obama was able to loosen the woman’s grip on her own and continued onto the stage, “never losing his smile.”

To read more click here.

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Ex-FBI Agent Gregg Schwarz — Second Generation Agent — Upset Over Movie Portraying Hoover as Gay

Gregg Schwarz/facebook

By Carol Morello
Washington Post

WASHINGTON –– Gregg Schwarz frowned as he positioned himself, just so, in front of the wrought iron fence surrounding John Edgar Hoover’s grave, a place he has visited countless times but never before in anger.

A retired FBI agent who joined the agency in 1972, the year Hoover died, Schwarz had hired a videographer to film him for YouTube expressing his displeasure with a movie that depicted Hoover as a repressed homosexual. In a dig at Clint Eastwood, the director of “J. Edgar,” Schwarz titled his video response, “Dirty Harry to Filthy Harry.”

“Mr. Hoover was portrayed as an individual who had homosexual tendencies and was a tyrannical monster,” Schwarz said into the camera, as the sun glinted off his FBI cuff links and FBI lapel pin. “That is simply not true.”

Many former FBI agents share Schwartz’s pique with the film’s dropped hints of an abiding love between Hoover and aide Clyde Tolson, who is buried a few grave sites away. Historians agree that there is no evidence that either man was gay, and a request for comment from either Eastwood or screenwriter Dustin Lance Black was declined.

To read more click here.

Read Column Schwarz wrote for ticklethewire.com on the movie.