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FBI

FBI Plans to Contact Actor Jude Law About Murdoch Scandal

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
The FBI probe into the Rupert Murdoch phone hacking scandal could being going beyond the 9/11 victims in the U.S.

The BBC reports that the FBI plans to contact the actor Jude Law following allegations that his phone was hacked during a visit to the U.S.

The BBC reported that a 2003 story by the News of the World newspaper, owned by Murdoch. was based on information from Law’s voicemail.

The BBC report comes in wake of reports that the FBI is trying to figure out whether allegations are true that Murdoch reporters tried to hack the phones of 9/11 victims in the U.S.

FBI Dir. Robert Mueller Gets One Step Closer to 2-Year Extension

Robert Mueller/file fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III moved one step closer to extending his 10-year term two additional years.

The U.S. Senate on Thursday approved legislation that would clear the way for Mueller to stay on for two years.  The bill must now go before the House, which is expected to give its OK. That vote could come next week.

The current legislation limits the FBI directors term to 10 years. The bill is one time deal that applies to Mueller, and does not change the 10 year limit.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ia.)  of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who supported the move, but still raised questions, issued a statement Thursday:

“This is an extraordinary step that the Senate has taken. Thirty-five years ago Congress limited the FBI director’s term to one, 10-year appointment as an important safeguard against improper political influence and abuses of the past.

“Director Mueller has proven his ability to run the FBI over the last 10 years and he has given assurances that he will remain available to Congress and our constitutional responsibilities of oversight. I am glad the Senate was able to reach an agreement that provides a one-time, short term extension of the FBI Director’s term in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution. We live in extraordinary times which make this move unfortunate, but necessary.”

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) of the Judiciary Committee, who was a big advocate of the extension, issued a statement saying:

“Ten weeks ago, the President asked the Congress to extend the term of service of the FBI Director. I worked in a bipartisan manner to expeditiously report a bill from the Judiciary Committee to the full Senate. While no Senator opposed an extension of Director Mueller’s term, some quibbled over the text of a bill to accomplish this goal, causing unnecessary delay. I believe the bill reported by the Committee was constitutional, and that the revisions to the bill are unnecessary.”

“Nonetheless, I am pleased that a bill passed the Senate today that will maintain continuity of leadership at the FBI as we approach the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001, and face continuing threats in the wake of the President’s successful operation against Osama bin Laden. I hope the House will take up and pass this bill so that it can be signed by the President, and the Senate can confirm Director Mueller’s re-nomination, prior to August 3, 2011, when Director Mueller’s current term expires.”

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Secret Service and FBI Probing Racial Cartoon Faxed to White House and Congress Member

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Some cartoons simply aren’t funny.

The Secret Service and FBI are investigating who faxed a racially charged cartoon to the White House and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex),  the Houston Chronicle reported.

The cartoon depicted nooses and lynching posts, the paper reported. The headline included a racial epithet and the cartoon also included two L-shaped lynching posts with “Sheila Jackson Lee” written on one cross bar and “Hussein Obama” written on the second cross bar, the Houston Chronicle reported. The return address on the fax said: “Defecating on Obama.”

“We are aware of the cartoon, and we are taking appropriate measures,” said Secret Service spokesman Robert Novy, according to the Chronicle.

FBI Contacts NYPD About Murdoch Scandal

Bye Bye N.Y.?

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The signs of spillage from the Rupert Murdoch scandal are popping up in New York City.

The Wall Street Journal’s Devlin Barrett and Sean Gardner report that the FBI has contacted the New York cops and the FBI’s own victims’ assistance office as part of a probe into whether Murdoch’s News Corp. employees tried hacking into voice mails of Sept. 11 victims.

The Journal cited “people familiar with the case.”

The paper reported that the FBI inquiry comes in wake of a report by the Daily Mirror that an unidentified New York cop claimed he was offered money by a News of the World

reporter for private phone details of 9/11 victims.

Paul Browne, a NYPD spokesman, confirmed that his department made formal inquiries into the case, and the FBI had contacted NYPD.

But he said to date the police department had to substantiate the allegations.

ATF’s Melson May Have a Second Wind; Should FBI Have Used Violent Gun Smuggler as Informant?

Ken Melson/atf photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

With the storm surrounding ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious getting more intense by the day, I thought it was time to step back and make some observations.

One: Acting ATF Director Ken Melson, who seemed like a dead man walking earlier this monthafter word got out that he was going to be forced to resign —  may have a little life left in him.  There’s a good chance he’ll be sticking around at least a little while longer.

After all, how bad would it look for the Justice Department to give him the boot at a time he’s expressing concern that the Justice Department is trying to  hush him up and keep him from telling the truth about the faulty operation  that encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers — all with the hopes of tracing the guns to the Mexican cartels.

He won’t survive this in the long run, particularly after some report — perhaps the Office of Inspector General — recommends an across-the-board change at the top at ATF. But he may stir up more mud  and try to salvage his reputation.

In the mean time, his statements on the matter, which have been released by bomb-throwers, Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley, have made him look far better than the Justice Department. The Justice Department isn’t looking so good. And the Justice Department can’t paint Melson as some cowboy or  rogue ATF agent. He was one of them. He came from the Justice Department. Now Melson thinks Atty. Gen. Eric Holder’s Justice Department sucks — or at minimum, can’t be trusted.

And then there’s the FBI informant ATF said it knew nothing about. Look for that to become a bigger deal and possibly create a little public relations headache for the FBI.

If you haven’t been following that closely: ATF was looking at some guy, who had a reputation as a violent gun dealer for the Mexican Cartels — only to find out that the FBI was using this guy as an informant. So of course, ATF had to back off.

Shades of Whitey Bulger? Well, in some ways no. There’s certainly no indication of any crooked FBI agents involved.

On the other hand, maybe, just maybe, the FBI needs to  draw the line with some informants  (like Bulger) when it appears their crimes out weigh the benefits of getting the information.

In this case, you do the math.  A violent gun smuggler for the the very very violent Mexican cartels. He should  have been behind bars, then coughed up information to get a better deal at sentencing. You shouldn’t let guys like that run their game and live the good  life.  Sure there’s arguments to made that it’s worth dealing with the devil to bring down multiple devils. But sometimes it just ain’t worth it — when death is part of the equation.

Then there’s the issue of doing the right thing. The FBI was dealing with a major gun runner. It should have given ATF a heads up that it was working the guy. It didn’t. Now, with this mess, who knows. The informant may end up dead as a result of this all coming to the surface.

In any event,  this whole mess can’t be good for anybody and it certainly can’t help the already strained the relationship beween the FBI and ATF.

And unfortunately, this whole Fast and Furious mess is only going to get messier.

Stay tuned.

Column: ATF’s Melson May Have a Second Wind; Should FBI Have Used Violent Gun Smuggler as Informant?

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

With the storm surrounding ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious getting more intense by the day, I thought it was time to step back and make some observations.

One: Acting ATF Director Ken Melson, who seemed like a dead man walking earlier this monthafter word got out that he was going to be forced to resign —  may have a little life left in him.  There’s a good chance he’ll be sticking around at least a little while longer.

After all, how bad would it look for the Justice Department to give him the boot at a time he’s expressing concern that the Justice Department is trying to  hush him up and keep him from telling the truth about the faulty operation  that encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers — all with the hopes of tracing the guns to the Mexican cartels.

He won’t survive this in the long run, particularly after some report — perhaps the Office of Inspector General — recommends an across-the-board change at the top at ATF. But he may stir up more mud  and try to salvage his reputation.

In the mean time, his statements on the matter, which have been released by bomb-throwers, Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley, have made him look far better than the Justice Department. The Justice Department isn’t looking so good. And the Justice Department can’t paint Melson as some cowboy or  rogue ATF agent. He was one of them. He came from the Justice Department. Now Melson thinks Atty. Gen. Eric Holder’s Justice Department sucks — or at minimum, can’t be trusted.

And then there’s the FBI informant ATF said it knew nothing about. Look for that to become a bigger deal and possibly create a little public relations headache for the FBI.

If you haven’t been following that closely: ATF was looking at some guy, who had a reputation as a violent gun dealer for the Mexican Cartels — only to find out that the FBI was using this guy as an informant. So of course, ATF had to back off.

Shades of Whitey Bulger? Well, in some ways no. There’s certainly no indication of any crooked FBI agents involved.

On the other hand, maybe, just maybe, the FBI needs to  draw the line with some informants  (like Bulger) when it appears their crimes out weigh the benefits of getting the information.

In this case, you do the math.  A violent gun smuggler for the the very very violent Mexican cartels. He should  have been behind bars, then coughed up information to get a better deal at sentencing. You shouldn’t let guys like that run their game and live the good  life.  Sure there’s arguments to made that it’s worth dealing with the devil to bring down multiple devils. But sometimes it just ain’t worth it — when death is part of the equation.

Then there’s the issue of doing the right thing. The FBI was dealing with a major gun runner. It should have given ATF a heads up that it was working the guy. It didn’t. Now, with this mess, who knows. The informant may end up dead as a result of this all coming to the surface.

In any event,  this whole mess can’t be good for anybody and it certainly can’t help the already strained the relationship beween the FBI and ATF.

And unfortunately, this whole Fast and Furious mess is only going to get messier.

Stay tuned.

FBI Says Pakistan Plotted to Influence U.S. Policy

By CHARLIE SAVAGE and ERIC SCHMITT
New York Times

WASHINGTON — Pakistan’s military, including its powerful spy agency, has spent $4 million over two decades in a covert attempt to tilt American policy against India’s control of much of Kashmir — including funneling campaign donations to members of Congress and presidential candidates, the F.B.I. claimed in court papers unsealed Tuesday.

The allegations of a long-running plan to influence American elections and foreign policy come at a time of deep tensions between the United States and Pakistan — and in particular its spy agency — amid the fallout over the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden at a compound deep inside Pakistan on May 2.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation made the allegations in a 43-page affidavit filed in connection with the indictment of two United States citizens on charges that they failed to register with the Justice Department as agents of Pakistan, as required by law. One of the men, Zaheer Ahmad, is in Pakistan, but the other, Syed Fai, lives in Virginia and was arrested on Tuesday.

To read more click here.

Inspector Gen. Investigators in Phoenix for Fast and Furious Probe

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

While Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley continue to attack the Justice Department in Washington over Operation Fast and Furious, investigators from the Office of Inspector General are in Phoenix looking into the matter.

According to one source, the OIG investigators are interviewing ATF agents and prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Phoenix.

The probe into the matter seems to be heating up as Grassley and Issa put more pressure on the Justice Department to cough up documents and information on the controversial operation.

Under the program, ATF encouraged gun dealers to sell to middlemen or straw purchasers, with the hopes of tracing the guns to the Mexican cartels. Some of the guns have shown up at crime scenes including at the scene in Arizona where Border Agent Brian Terry was killed.

There has been nothing that has surfaced publicly to suggest the guns were actually used in the killing of Terry.

There is also no proof that any of the guns from Operation Fast and Furious were used to kill ICE agent Jamie Zapata in Mexico.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST