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FBI

FBI Tells Police Officials No Immediate Threats Following bin Laden Killing

Chief Charles Ramsey/dept. photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Leaders of the nation’s largest police organizations said they were briefed by the FBI after the killing of Osama bin Laden and told there appeared to be no immediate threats or active terrorist plots, USA Today reported.

The paper reported that the briefing came after federal officials were warned to be on guard for any acts of retaliation.

USA Today reported that Philly Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, president of the Major City Chiefs Association, said the FBI provided the briefing last week. Other organizations in attendance included the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the National Sheriffs Association.

Meanwhile, various media organizations reported that materials seized at the bin Laden compound showed that he was encouraging attacks on smaller cities in the U.S.

“Grandad Bandit” Hit Up With 25 Years For Robbing 26 Banks in 14 States

Grandad Bandit/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI  may have thought Michael F. Mara looked grandfatherly when they dubbed the serial bank robber the “Grandad Bandit”.

Wait til he gets out of prison. They may want to consider changing his nickname to the “Great Grandad Bandit.”

Mara, 53, of Baton Rouge, La., was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Richomond, Va., to 25 years in prison for robbing 26 banks in 14 states, authorities announced. He was also ordered to pay $83,868 in restitution.

“Mr. Mara stole tens of thousands of dollars in a brazen crime spree that included robberies in more than a dozen states in just over two years,” said U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride. “One robbery alone is a very traumatic experience, and it takes a long time for the victim to feel safe going to work. Thanks to the great work of the FBI and an alert public, Mr. Mara will spend the rest of his productive life behind bars as punishment for his extensive crimes.”

Authorities said Mara admitted entering each bank and providing a bank teller with a note announcing a robbery and demanding various sums of money.

After each robbery, Mara would retrieve the demand note and exit the bank quietly, authorities said. He admitted netting a total of $83,868 in cash in the robberies.

Sen. McCain Opposes Torture; Says Waterboarding Did Not Lead to bin Laden Courier

John McCain/gov photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Sen. John McCain (R-Az) wrote Thursday in a Op-Ed piece in the Washington Post that he opposed torture, and said it just isn’t true that waterboarding lead authorities to the trusted courier of the Osama bin Laden.

“Much of this debate is a definitional one: whether any or all of these methods constitute torture. I believe some of them do, especially waterboarding, which is a mock execution and thus an exquisite form of torture. As such, they are prohibited by American laws and values, and I oppose them.

As for the courier, he stated:

“Former attorney general Michael Mukasey recently claimed that ‘the intelligence that led to bin Laden . . . began with a disclosure from Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who broke like a dam under the pressure of harsh interrogation techniques that included waterboarding. He loosed a torrent of information — including eventually the nickname of a trusted courier of bin Laden.’” That is false.”

“I asked CIA Director Leon Panetta for the facts, and he told me the following: The trail to bin Laden did not begin with a disclosure from Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times. The first mention of Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti — the nickname of the al-Qaeda courier who ultimately led us to bin Laden — as well as a description of him as an important member of al-Qaeda, came from a detainee held in another country, who we believe was not tortured. None of the three detainees who were waterboarded provided Abu Ahmed’s real name, his whereabouts or an accurate description of his role in al-Qaeda.”

He also stated that he was against anyone being prosecuted for using any of the methods he opposes.

To read full column click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

DNA Sample That Could Have Solved Washington State Murder Languished in FBI Lab For 3 1/2 Years

Suspect Gary Krueger/kiro7

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A DNA sample that could have solved a 2001  murder by a former Seattle cop languished at the FBI lab for 3 1/2 years, the station KIRO 7 news  in Seattle reported.

The story unfolds like this:

In 2001, realtor Mike Emert, 40, was murdered in the Seattle suburb of Woodinville while showing a home to a prospective buyer. The murder goes unsolved.

In 2002, the station reported, that former Seattle cop Gary Krueger, who authorities suspect was a professional hitman, was convicted in a series of armed bank robberies. He went off to federal prison and was released in 2007– but not before authorities sent a swab of his DNA to the FBI’s DNA lab in Quantico, Va.

In March of 2010, he drowned shortly being involved in a home invasion robbery, the station reported.

In July of that year, the FBI finally ran his DNA and submitted it to the National DNA Index System — 3 1/2 years after local authorities gave it to the lab.  The test pointed to Krueger in  the 2001 murder of a real estate agent Mike Emert.

The station reported that Krueger  was also a suspect in the 1981 slaying of former police officer and Everett gas station owner, Terry Dolan and in the 1984 stabbing of Bellevue attorney Jim Barry.

Mary Beth Emert, wife of the slain real estate agent, told the station she was angry about the delay.

“It makes my blood boil, absolutely makes my blood boil,” she said, adding that she feels she was denied justice because the DNA samples came after Krueger’s death.

“It’s kind of that final piece, putting it on the right place and knowing that after all this time this monster has been identified,” Emert told KIRO news. “Too bad that the system didn’t get him while they could- while he was alive.”

The FBI sent a response by email to the station, saying:

“In the interest of being fair and balanced… I’m hopeful that your special project story, on DNA testing, will mention that the FBI Laboratory successfully eliminated the federal offender backlog of over 300,000 samples in September of 2010.”

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Column: Could Hair Determine the Next FBI Director?

Robert Mueller

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Could the new director of the FBI win out by a hair — or many hairs?

I know this may sound silly, but I have a theory about hair and certain jobs.  And I think this theory could be applicable to the hunt for a replacement for FBI Director Robert Mueller III, who steps down in September. My theory is: A good head of hair could win out after all other considerations are taken into account.  (Of course my theory only applies to  men since no woman whose name has popped up is lacking in hair.)

Let me explain further. When I was at the Washington Post, I occasionally kidded a friend in management,  who was in his 40s at the time, who sported a  full, youthful head of hair — a Dennis the Menace coif if you will.

J. Edgar Hoover

I would say to him:  “You’ve got  the right head of hair, you’re going places here.”  After all, I said,  the top two spots at the paper — at least when I was there — were always occupied by people with full heads of youthful hair. No bald folks, no real folks with serious receding hairlines. Us folks with thinning hair notice these things.

Louis Freeh

Clarence Kelley

I thought  about this the other day when I heard the latest rumor that  Michael Chertoff, the former head of the Justice Department Criminal Division and the ex-head of Homeland Security, might be a contender for the FBI director job.

I  thought a moment, then jokingly said to myself, “Nah, not enough hair.”

Silly? Yes. Still, history speaks volumes.

Look at Mueller. At 66, he still maintains  a world-class, full head of hair. Ex-director Louie Freeh, while he was not quite as follically blessed,  had plenty hair,  as did  William Sessions and Clarence Kelley.  Patrick Gray, who served as acting director from May 1972 to April of the following year, didn’t have much hair at all, but then again, he was only acting director. And the grandaddy of them all, J. Edgar Hoover had a first-rate, fine  head of hair when he started out on the job.

Michael Chertoff

Ken Wainstein

James Comey

So who does that leave us with if we apply  the hair theory, assuming the new director is a man?

Here’s some of the hair-blessed candidates:  Former Justice lawyers Ken Wainstein and James Comey;  Sec. of Homeland Security John Pistole and  Virginia U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride.

Chicago U.S. Attorney has more hair than not, but has a receding hairline. He’s somewhere in between.

Then there’s the more follically challenged candidates:  Former FBI agent Mike Mason, N.Y. City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Michael Leiter, chief of National Counterterrorism Center.

I could be 100 percent wrong.

And this all may seem even sillier when a nominee is finally picked. But in the mean time, we can only guess if hair will rule in this matter.

Patrick Fitzgerald/doj photo

Mike Mason/fbi photo

NYPD Commissioner Kelly/nypd photo

U.S. Atty. Neil MacBride

John Pistole/dhs photo

Michael Leiter

FBI Agents Association Lauds Proposed Legislation to Use Wiretaps for Probes involving Government Fraud

Konrad Motyka/ticklethewire.com photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — FBI Agents Association President Konrad Motyka on Tuesday lauded proposed legislation that would allow investigators to use court-authorized wiretaps for fraud cases involving government programs like the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.)  introduced language last Friday in bill H.R. 1793, the Clean-Up Government Act of 2011, that will allow wiretaps in such fraud cases.

Current law does not include government fraud on the list of  serious crimes in which investigators can obtain wiretaps.  While it is not  impossible, it is much more challenging to obtain a wiretap for government fraud cases, a spokesman for the association explained.

The new legislation will make it much easier.

Rep. Sensenbrenner

“The FBI Agents Association (FBIAA) supports Chairman Sensenbrenner’s inclusion of language in H.R. 1793 that would add the crime of theft from government programs to the list of serious crimes that Congress previously recognized could be investigated using court-authorized wiretaps,” Motyka said in a statement.

“Current law makes it difficult to use wiretaps in the investigation of crimes involving government programs,” he added. ” It is an unfortunate reality that in these difficult economic times criminals are taking advantage of programs intended to help hardworking Americans.

“In order to effectively fight fraud related to large government programs such as the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and programs using stimulus funds, Congress should include crimes against taxpayers in the statutory list so that courts will have specific authority to grant wiretaps.”

Yankee Boss Steinbrenner Cooperated With FBI to Get a Presidential Pardon

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The sometimes cantankerous and bigger than life N.Y. Yankee owner George Steinbrenner cooperated with the FBI on national security cases and other matters in the 1970s and 1980s, which helped him land a pardon from President Reagan in 1989, the New York Times reported.

His pardon was for a conviction for illegal contributions to President Nixon’s presidential election campaign. He was initially denied a pardon in 1979, the Times reported.

The Times reported that “it is not surprising that Steinbrenner helped the F.B.I., to help his case for a pardon but perhaps also to demonstrate his avowed patriotism. But clearly, he wanted a pardon.” He was fined $15,000 for his conviction, but served no time.

Steinbrenner died in July 2010.

The Times reported that in his “first pardon application in 1979, Steinbrenner wrote that his conviction prevented him from voting, affected his business, led to his suspension from baseball, and limited his participation in civic and charitable activities where his ‘status as a felon’ could embarrass those groups.”

Besides helping with national security matters, he once showed his willingness to let authorities use Yankee Stadium as a roundup point for arrests in a crackdown on organized crime gambling, the Times reported. But cold weather prompted a change in venue.

To read more click here.

Fla. Man Pleads Guilty to Impersonating an FBI Agent

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It’s never a good idea. Daniel F. Cleary, 48, of Weston, Fla. knows that now.

Clearly pleaded guilty last Friday in federal court in Southern Florida to impersonating an FBI agent, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Authorities said it all began on Jan. 13 of this year when Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a call regarding property damage at a home in Weston, Fla.

When the deputies arrived at Cleary’s residence, Cleary identified himself as a Special Agent with the FBI and displayed counterfeit FBI credentials bearing his name and photograph.

He also had a Glock Model 17 9mm semi-automatic pistol. He faces up to three years in prison.