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FBI

Wife of Dead Photo Editor Has Doubts About Anthrax Case

Anthrax Suspect Bruce Ivins

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The controversy over the 2001 anthrax killings  isn’t likely to go away — not for a long time at least.

The latest: The Associated Press reports that the widow of National Enquirer photo editor Robert Stevens, who was killed by an anthrax letter in 2001, has doubts that the lone scientist Bruce Ivins was behind the anthrax that killed five all together and sickened 17 others.

Maureen Stevens made her claims in filings in a lawsuit she has against the government, alleging it didn’t do enough to safeguard the dangerous anthrax strains at the government lab Ft. Detrick in Maryland.

Meanwhile, Greg Gordon of McClatchy Newspapers reports:

“Buried in FBI laboratory reports about the anthrax mail attacks that killed five people in 2001 is data suggesting that a chemical may have been added to try to heighten the powder’s potency, a move that some experts say exceeded the expertise of the presumed killer (Bruce Ivins).”

Stevens claims are based on sworn statements made by two of Ivin’s superiors who claimed Ivin’s didn’t have the expertise  to pull it off, AP reported. One scientist claimed it would have taken more than one person to pull off the attacks.

The Justice Department and FBI had planned to charge Ivins in the murders, but he committed suicide in July 2008 before that could happen.

To read the full McClatchy story click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

FBI Wants to See if “Unabomber” Linked to Tylenol Killings in 1982

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Theodore Kaczynski, aka the “Unabomber”, is a apparently a suspect in the 1982 Tylenol poisonings that killed seven people in the Chicago area, according to media reports.

Bloomberg reported that the FBI wants Kaczynski’s DNA to see if there’s any link to the Tylenol killings.

Bloomberg reported that Kaczynski made the disclosure in court papers in an effort to stop an auction of his belongings by the U.S. Marshals Service, which is now in progress.

In a handwritten court document, Bloomberg reported, that Kaczynski said the prison wanted his DNA “to compare with the partial DNA profiles connected with a 1982 event in which someone put potassium cyanide in Tylenol.”

“I have never even possessed any potassium cyanide,” wrote Kaczynski, 68, a former mathematics professor, according to Bloomberg.

The FBI declined comment, Bloomberg reported.

Prosecution Expected to Rest in Blago Retrial: Blago May Testify

Ex-Gov on NBC's Celebrity Apprentice

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Well, that was quick.

After just 2 1/2 weeks of testimony, the prosecution in the federal retrial of ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich is expected to rest its case on Thursday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The first trial took 11 weeks, most of which was taken up by the prosecution presenting it case centering on bribery allegations and Blago’s alleged attempt to sell the Senate seat vacated by President Obama.

Speculation continued this week as to whether the  ever-chatty Blago will testify on his own behalf, the Sun-Timengs reported.  He did not testify in the first trial in which the jury convicted him on only 1 of 24 counts, and that was for lying to the FBI.

The defense has indicated it might also call as witnesses Jesse Jackson Jr. and newly minted Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

To read more click here.

Ex-FBI Informant and Right Wing Shock Jock Claims Life is in Danger in Prison

Hal Turner/msnbc photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Convicted right winger, New Jersey Internet shock jock Harold “Hal” Turner, who once worked as an FBI informant, claims his life is in danger now that he’s  housed in federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., with notorious prisoners, the Jersey Journal reported.

“I probably won’t even see it coming,” Turner wrote in a letter to the The Jersey Journal. “They are facilitating my murder by putting me in the direct physical presence of the very terrorists I defended the nation from.”

A Bureau of Prisons spokesman told the Journal: “All inmates in the custody of the BOP are designated at facilities, housing units and management programs consistent with the inmate’s security needs.”

After jurors twice deadlocked, Turner was convicted at a third trial last December of threatening the lives of three U.S. Court of Appeals judges in Chicago. He was sentenced to 33 months in prison.

Turner, 48, was charged in June 2009 for writing Internet postings proclaiming “outrage” over the pr0-gun control, handgun decision  by U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook and Judges Richard Posner and William Bauer and wrote: “Let me be the first to say this plainly: These Judges deserve to be killed.”

His postings included photographs, phone numbers, work address, and room numbers of these judges. It also included a photo of the building they worked in and a map with its location, authorities said.

Like Portland, San Francisco Police Place Limits on Officers Who Participate in FBI’s JTTF

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The San Francisco Police Department becomes the second major police force in the nation in recent months to place limits on what its officers can do as members of  the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).

Following Portland, Oregon’s lead, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the San Francisco police chief Greg Suhr has issued an order that says cops assigned to the FBI’s terrorism task force must adhere to local policies protecting civil rights rather than the federal rules, which are looser.

“His announcement came during a rare joint meeting of the San Francisco police and human rights commissions, which was called after the American Civil Liberties Union, along with groups representing Arab Americans and other minorities, raised concerns that local police officers who served on the task force fell under FBI control and therefore operated under federal laws that gave them more leeway in terrorism investigations,” the Chronicle reported.

“No one wants SFPD officers to be under control of the FBI,” John Crew, a lawyer with the ACLU, said , according to the Chronicle.  “We’re all on the same page about that. But we’re not there yet with making it happen.”

In April, the Portland City Council voted unanimously to rejoin the FBI’s JTTF, but with limits. The city had quit the JTTF in 2005, citing concerns that the FBI was violating civil rights. It was also concerned its officers might snoop on citizens and violate local laws. Then-police chief and mayor were also angry that they did not have access to the same classified information task force officers had.

Under Portland’s new arrangement, the department will not permanently assign manpower to the JTTF, but will get involved with the anti-terrorism task force on an “as-needed basis” when it deemed the investigations worthy, The Oregonian reported.

Under the plan, the police chief will have the discretion to assign officers to investigations after consulting with the police commissioner. Some community members were adamantly against the city having a relationship with the JTTF.

Portland revisited the issue of participating in the JTTF after the FBI set up a sting and busted a man last November who was plotting to detonate a bomb at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

If Congress Extends Dir. Mueller’s Term 2 Years, Let’s Not Do it Again For Anyone Else

Robert Mueller/file fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON –– I have mixed feelings about the White House proposal to have FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III stay two years more beyond his 10-year term, which expires in September. The opinions of newspaper editorial boards around the country reflect my ambivalence.

All recognize the need for continuity in such uncertain times. All praise Mueller for taking on the job at a time of rapid change. They also note that after Hoover’s death in 1972, Congress passed legislation to limit the term to 10-years, pointing to the politics and power Hoover amassed, and how he abused his position and stepped over the line and made many important people, including presidents, fear him.

Continuity. Sure it’s important. But change is constant, a part of life, a part of Washington.  And as the Washington Post rightfully asks:”But when are continuity and stability at the FBI not critical?”

The Post editorial goes on to say: “The president’s request that Congress tinker with the 10-year term limit sets a bad precedent that should not be repeated, if Congress goes along this time. It may be the path of less resistance to retain an FBI director, easier than identifying and winning confirmation for a new nominee. But staffing an administration on schedule is part of the president’s job. For the independence and integrity of the bureau, this shouldn’t happen again.”

Conversely, The Tulsa World editorial page stated:

“There is a good reason why the director of the FBI is limited to a 10-year term. That reason is J. Edgar Hoover. There also is a good reason why there should be an exception to that rule. That exception is Robert S. Mueller III.”

“Mueller took the FBI from being primarily an agency dedicated to criminal investigations to one that is a major factor in the nation’s war on terror.

“He was appointed by President George W. Bush and is now being asked to extend his service by Obama. The post is truly nonpartisan….Obama’s request is likely to be honored. We hope it will be soon.”

The FBI post is somewhat  non-partisan.  But it’s not totally without politics.

We saw that from some of the jockeying going on while the selection process was underway to find a replacement for Mueller. Sen. Charles E. Schumer  (D-NY) was openly lobbying for NYPD Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly to be the next director. The FBI Agents Association was pushing for ex-FBI official Michael Mason. And assuredly, there was there was lobbying going on for other candidates.

That being said, after the selection process and the confirmation hearing, which is also very political, the politics of selecting a new FBI director ends for 10 years. This proposed  extension seems to brings politics back in play for  a short two-year stint before we go at it again when the White House looks for a new director.

Most members of Congress will quickly pass legislation to approve the extension. But you can count on some, at minimum, questioning the wisdom.

Besides the Hoover issues, there are  good arguments to be made to move on and find a new director.

Fresh eyes. Fresh ideas.

As to reports that  the White House couldn’t find a good candidate to replace Mueller, I say: Hard to believe.

Granted, some prime candidates may not have wanted the job. NBC’s Mike Isikoff reported that folks like former deputy Attorney General James Comey didn’t want it. Ditto for  U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Merrick B. Garland.

Still, there were plenty good candidates out there. To say there weren’t,  is simply a cop out.

The ACLU, perhaps not the FBI’s biggest friend, has also weighed in on the matter.

“FBI Director Robert Mueller should be thanked for his public service during an extraordinarily challenging period in American history,” ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero in a statement.

“It was for good reason that Congress chose to limit the tenure of future FBI directors. By setting a 10-year term, Congress sought to protect both the FBI director from undue political influence and our democratic institutions from allowing an unelected official to hold the power to examine the lives of Americans, including political leaders, for longer than is appropriate.

All in all, I have to say, if Congress agrees to extend Mueller’s term, it should pass legislation tailored to his specific situation, and leave the 10-year limit intact for all future directors.

The Beltway has was too much politics as it is. We don’t need more.

FBI Agent Charged With Allegedly Lying About Helping Informant He Had Affair With

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Toss in an FBI agent, an informant and allegations of sex and you’ve got scandal.

The U.S. Attorney’s  Office in Manhattan announced Tuesday the unsealing of an indictment charging  FBI agent Adrian Busby, 37,  with making false statements to protect a married confidential source he was allegedly having an affair with.

Busby, who now resides in El Paso, Tex.,  was charged with trying to protect the woman from identity-theft charges in a Queens State Criminal Court trial and then lying about it to authorities. He surrendered Tuesday in Texas to authorities.

It all began in 2008 when Busby, who was investigating mortgage fraud, started using a female real estate loan officer as a confidential source. He also began having an affair with her.

On Feb. 5, 2008, the source was arrested and subsequently prosecuted by the Queens County District Attorney’s Office for identity theft and related charges.

Authorities charged that Busby “actively assisted with her criminal defense, met with her attorneys on multiple occasions, and during trial “provided her defense attorney with confidential, law enforcement reports…related to her case….in violation of FBI regulations.”

In December 2009, she was convicted.

Beginning in January 2008, authorities said Busby made numerous false statements regarding the things he did to assist her in the trial.

Busby denied wrongdoing to The New York Daily News.

“Was she a suspect in my case? She wasn’t a suspect in my case,” Busby told the paper. “Was she a confidential informant? That’s something that the FBI would have to give out.”

“If [the Justice Department investigators] did not find anything, then apparently my actions were appropriate,” he added.

Ex-Suburban D.C. County Executive Jack Johnson Who was a Prosecutor Pleads Guilty

Jack Johnson/wusa

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Considering he was once the  top prosecutor for a prominent suburban county just outside D.C., Jack B. Johnson was not such a smart crook and shakedown artist.

Johnson was arrested by the FBI last November while in his final weeks in office as county executive of Prince George’s County on charges of taking more than $400,000 in bribes.  He was recorded by the FBI on a frantic phone call with his wife Leslie, who was home at the time when two FBI agents knocked at the front door. He was advising her to hide incriminating evidence including wads of cash.

On Tuesday, it was time to fess up.

Johnson, 62, of Mitchellville, Md. pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt to  extortion conspiracy relating to the performance of his official duties and tampering with a witness and evidence. A number of other people were charged in the case including Johnson’s wife, who faces charges relating to hiding evidence.

Read more »