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LA Times Editorial: New Guildelines for Miranda Rights “Defensible”

Suspect Abdulmutallab/u.s. marshals photo

By The Los Angeles Times
Editorial Page

There was an uproar when it was revealed that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called Christmas Day bomber, was read his Miranda rights. The hysterical reaction obscured a real dilemma for law enforcement: how to obtain what could be vital information about terrorist plots without denying suspects their legal rights. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. and the FBI have produced guidelines that adroitly balance the two interests.

Issued Oct. 21 but made public only recently, the guidelines will not please those conservatives who insist that suspected terrorists shouldn’t be Mirandized at all. But they strike us as reasonable and, equally important, useful in heading off efforts in Congress to weaken Miranda.

The guidelines say that if applicable, “agents should ask any and all questions that are reasonably prompted by an immediate concern for the safety of the public or the arresting agents without advising the arrestee of his Miranda rights.” This advice is consistent with a 1984 Supreme Court decision making an exception from the Miranda requirement for questioning motivated by a concern for public safety.

Next, the guidelines say that after public safety concerns have been resolved, agents should promptly Mirandize a suspect. But there are exceptions: situations in which, “although all relevant public safety questions have been asked, agents nonetheless conclude that continued unwarned interrogation is necessary to collect valuable and timely intelligence not related to any immediate threat, and that the government’s interest in obtaining this intelligence outweighs the disadvantages of proceeding with unwarned interrogation.” This provision pushes the public safety exception to its limit, but it’s defensible.

To read more click here.

Head of FBI’s Roanoke Office to Work For Va. Tech


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Kevin Foust, head of the Roanoke, Va. FBI office, is a little nervous.

After a quarter century with the FBI, Foust, 50, is leaving to become deputy chief of Virginia Tech’s police department, according to the Roanoke Times.

His $80,000 a year job will be to assess security for the university across Virginia and overseas, the paper reported. The university faced tragedy four years ago when a gunman opened fire, killing  32 and wounded many others.

“I’m very nervous about going down there because it’s something I’ve never done before,” Foust told the Roanoke Times.  “I pray that they’re patient.”

Justice Dept.’s Public Integrity Section Could Be Screwing Up Another Public Corruption Case in Ala.


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section which blew the case against Sen. Ted Stevens, may be screwing up a big public corruption case in Montgomery, Ala. Both cases involve allegations of withholding evidence from the defense.

The Associated Press reports that an angry U.S. Magistrate Judge Wallace Capel Jr. is fed up and said at a pretrial hearing on Friday that he may impose sanctions against the government for repeatedly failing to hand over all  the documents pertaining to FBI wiretaps in a gambling case involving alleged payoffs to politicians to pass legislation.

“This is supposed to be some elite group coming down from D.C., and how this case has been conducted is ridiculous,” the judge said at a pretrial hearing, according to AP. The trial is set for June 6.

The judge did not say what sanctions he might impose, but the defense is asking that the judge toss the case because the  government failed to share certain documents.

AP reported that Casino owners Milton McGregor and Ronnie Gilley, four present and former legislators, and four others are charged with buying and selling votes on legislation. The votes would have kept opened Gilley’s and McGregor’s shuttered electronic bingo casinos.

Prosecutor Steve Feaga said in court, according to AP: “In the course of this case, there have been some mistakes made by the government.”

But AP reported that Feaga said the mistakes were unintentional, such as handing over computer disc without the passwords to access data.

The government has conceded that it has made mistakes, but they weren’t intentional, AP said.

The Public Integrity Section convicted then-U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens in Oct. 27, 2008 of public corruption charges shortly before his re-election. Stevens lost the election, but the Justice Department subsequently  moved to vacate conviction because its Office of Public Integrity failed to turn over evidence to the defense.

Six Decades Later, FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted List Still Tough to Crack

Osama bin Laden

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

WASHINGTON — In the film “Take the Money and Run,” Woody Allen played a bumbling, publicity-starved petty criminal named Virgil Starkwell. “You know he never made the Ten Most Wanted list,” Starkwell’s wife, Louise, lamented in the 1969 comedy. “It’s very unfair voting. It’s who you know.”

As Allen’s fictitious character learned, getting on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list is no easy feat. Just being a vicious criminal or a menace to society isn’t always enough.

For one, there has to be an opening. And then there’s the selection process: A committee at FBI headquarters reviews dozens of candidates from FBI field offices — there are 56 in all — before the top brass weighs in with a final decision.

Boston Mobster Whitey Bulger

“I’d be lying to say there’s no politics involved” in getting someone on the list, Tony Riggio, a former FBI agent and official, told AOL News.

To read full story click here.

A Big Goof By the Feds Resulted in Mobster’s Murder, Gang Land News Reports


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A goof by federal law enforcement resulted in the murder of Genovese family mobster Adolfo (Big Al) Bruno in 2003, Gang Land News reports.

The website on the Mafia reported that a federal probation officer mentioned in a pre-sentence report to a Massachusetts federal judge that Bruno, who ran the Springfield, Mass. rackets for the crime family,  had cooperated with the FBI. The pre-sentence report was for mobster Emilio Fusco.

When Fusco,  who is entitled to see the report, read the passage about Bruno snitching, he told other mobsters, Gang Land reported. Eventually, then-acting mob boss Arthur (The Little Guy) Nigro put a hit out on Bruno, one mobster testified in court.

The information about the pre-sentence report surfaced in an a federal trial for  Nigro and two associates,  Fotios Geas and Ty Geas. All three were convicted Friday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan in Bruno’s murder and other crimes.

Gang Land quoted a former fed prosecutor as saying: “Obviously, Bruno’s name should not have been in the (pre-sentence report) as the source of the information. It’s like putting a bulls-eye on the guy’s chest.”

Gang Land reported that another former law enforcement source said: “To me, it looks like everyone messed up. The agent shouldn’t have given Bruno’s name to the prosecutor; the prosecutor shouldn’t have repeated it to the probation department, and the probation officer shouldn’t have included it in his report.”

Gangland reported that the FBI declined comment.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Washington Post Editorial: The Not-So Honorable Ex-D.C. Mayor Marion Barry

D.C.’s former Mayor Marion Barry, currently a city council member, has had his share of brushes with federal law enforcement. As you recall in 1990 he was busted in an FBI sting smoking crack in a D.C. hotel room. In 2005, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges relating to failure to file and pay taxes. His legal indiscretions go on and on. The Washington Post editorial talks about his latest indiscretion. The editorial sums it up best with the headline: “Marion Barry, Still Embarrassing D.C.” — Allan Lengel

The Not-So Honorable Marion Barry/gov photo


By The Washington Post
Editorial Page

WASHINGTON — WHAT IS SO distressing about D.C. Council member Marion Barry’s latest escapade is not his belief that he can live outside the law. That’s old news. What’s distressing is that he seems to be correct in his assessment.

How else to explain the apparent indifference of police and other officials to the fact of Mr. Barry tooling around town in a car not properly registered? That Mr. Barry is allowed to continuously embarrass the people he was elected to serve erodes the city’s credibility and ability to manage itself.

The most recent instance of Mr. Barry (D-Ward 8) discrediting his office involves, as The Post’s Tim Craig disclosed, his use of a car that has “inactive” D.C. tags and that was not registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles. It’s against the law for anyone to operate a vehicle not properly registered, and violators face a fine of up to $1,000 or up to 30 days in jail.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

ATF Still Hasn’t Turned Over Info to Congressional Committee; Battle Heats Up

ATF's Kenneth Melson keeping mum/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The battle between Capitol Hill and ATF seems to be heating up.

ATF failed to meet the Wednesday deadline to turn over requested information about a controversial gun-walking operation to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Becca Watkins, a spokeswoman for the committee, told ticklethewire.com Friday morning that the committee is expected to respond to  ATF’s non-compliance later in the day.

The committee has asked for info on the controversial program “Fast and Furious”, which had straw purchasers buying guns and ATF trying to trace them to the Mexican cartels. Some guns have ended up being used in serious crimes.

Rep. Darrell Isa, chairman of the committee, and Sen. Chuck Grassley have expressed anger over ATF’s failure to turn over information about the program.  On top of that, Ken Melson, head of ATF, turned down an invitation to appear before Congress.

On Thursday, former ATF official Bernie La Forest released an email to ticklethewire.com he had sent to former colleagues saying Congress may cut ATF’s budget — or worse yet — eliminate the agency if it doesn’t start cooperating.

“This refusal is exactly what some politicians want. If the ‘failure to cooperate’ continues, ATF is in for another blood bath . . . maybe a fatal one this go-around,” La Forest wrote.

ATF did not immediately respond for comment Friday morning.

“We aren’t going to discuss matters of ongoing investigations,” said ATF spokesman Drew Wade.

Ex-ATF Offcial Thinks Funds Could Get Cut or ATF Could Be Eliminated if it Doesn’t Cooperate With Congressional Inquiries

Bernie La Forest/facebook

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — In the ever too eager climate to slash budgets, ex-ATF official Bernie La Forest thinks ATF could face some serious  cuts — and even elimination — if it doesn’t start cooperating with Congress and give answers about a controversial gun program known as “Operation Fast and Furious.”

“This refusal is exactly what some politicians want. If the ‘failure to cooperate’ continues, ATF is in for another blood bath . . . maybe a fatal one this go-around,” La Forest wrote in an email to retired and current agents he knows.

LaForest thinks it’s a big mistake that Ken Melson, head of ATF,  has been muzzled and has declined an invitation to speak before Congress. He thinks politicians will pounce on that non-cooperative posture being taken by the agency.  La Forest, an author of two crime novels,  once headed up offices in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Detroit and Kansas City.

His sentiments, expressed to former colleagues in an email on Wednesday comes as  Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep.  Darrell Issa have loudly complained that ATF has refused so far to comply with requests for information about the controversial ATF program out of Arizona that let straw buyers purchase guns — all with the hopes of tracing them to the drug cartels in Mexico. Problem is, ATF hasn’t been able to keep tabs on all the guns that have ended up in the hands of criminals. And reportedly some were used in serious crimes.

LaForest shared his email with ticklethewire.com and David Codrea of the Examiner but added: “Would only ask that you make it clear that this was simply an “opinion” of someone who has been “out-of-the-game” for several years.  I was never muzzled as an ATF manager, even when I and others testified before a congressional subcommittee concerning the 1981 –’82 Proposed Abolishment of ATF under the Reagan Administration.”

“Someone could be setting a trap,” he wrote in the email. ” We saw it happen after Waco . . . our Man said nothing at the Congressional hearings—and an almost apocalyptic period of recrimination and payback took place within ATF.

“The FBI Man could not keep his mouth shut! His BS babbling resulted in more FBI agents, two or three more HRT squads, and more money than could be possibly spent . . . well, in a perfect world at most law enforcement agencies.

“Now, another ATF Director is refusing to testify before Congress. I figure they told him to suck it up and stonewall the committee by his DOJ bosses and people in the White House.”

“This refusal is exactly what some politicians want. If the ‘failure to cooperate’ continues, ATF is in for another blood bath . . . maybe a fatal one this go-around.

“It could be an effortless task, a simple matter–while appearing logical to most uninformed citizens. Cost-cutting measures, directed at government employees, are a ready-made excuse to lop off heads. In 1992 – ‘93, ATF appeared to eat their own by purging nonconformist with a disastrous reorganization scheme where smoke and mirrors were the management tools of the day.

” Another contrived metamorphosis may not work, even if the new team of ATF managers gives away the farm. When Bureau was on the ropes after Waco, the FBI peeled away some great jurisdictional “stuff” from ATF’s naive managers at the time.

“Of course, everyone has an opinion . . . . . . . . as they say.”

Read ticklethewire.com column: ATF Needs to Clean the Manure Off Its Boots Now