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FBI Hunts for Killers of Armored Car Guard in Georgia

FBI Dir. Mueller Urges Congress to Reauthorize Use of Anti-Terrorism Tools

Robert Mueller/file fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller urged Congress Wednesday to reauthorize investigative tools like roving wiretaps to help fight terrorism.

“We encourage Congress to reauthorize the three critical FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) tools that will expire later this year: roving wiretap authority, access to business records under FISA, and the “lone wolf” provision,” Mueller said while testifying before the House Judiciary Committee.

“Two of these tools have been part of FISA since the USA PATRIOT Act was enacted nearly a decade ago, and the third has been in FISA since 2004. They have all been reauthorized several times. Each facilitates the collection of vital foreign intelligence and counterintelligence information to support our national security mission.”

FISA was designed to  allow investigators to secretly conduct surveillance and gather intelligence of foreign entities and individuals inside the U.S.  without going through  the normal channels to get a court order. Instead, agencies submit the requests to the highly secretive FISA Court for approval.

The ‘”lone wolf provision Mueller referred to allows investigators to use FISA  for surveillance of a foreign person who may  be acting alone and has no ties to foreign organization. The roving wiretap allows the government to track someone who tries to elude authorities by constantly changing phones.

Mueller also said: “The foreign intelligence threat to the United States continues unabated, from traditional means such as last year’s arrest of a network of Russian spies living in the United States, to more contemporary methods of tradecraft.

“Foreign intelligence services continue to target political and military intelligence as well as information from economic institutions, both in and outside government. Foreign adversaries, however, do not rely on traditional agent networks alone—they are increasingly making use of non-traditional collectors, such as students, visiting scholars and scientists, and business people.”

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Talk of a New FBI Director Heats Up

Patrick Fitzgerald/doj photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI Agents Association’s endorsement Tuesday of ex-FBI agent Mike Mason to head the FBI in September offers no guarantees, but it could raise his profile as a candidate. He would be the first African-American to head the agency.

Mason, who served in the FBI for 23 years, and currently heads security as Verizon, was a popular figure at the FBI among the troops. He headed the field offices in Sacramento and Washington and retired from the agency in 2007 as executive assistant director in charge of the Criminal Division at headquarters.  Mason is native of Chicago, which can’t hurt in the Obama administration.

It comes as no surprise that the Agents Association endorsed a former agent. It has often expressed a feeling that a former federal agent should have the job. The job has never gone to a current agent.

Director Robert S. Mueller III will retire in September after serving out his 10-year appointment that began in September 2001.  His tenure has been met with mixed results inside the bureau, particularly among some who were considered loyalists of his predecessor Louis Freeh, who had been a former agent.

Mike Mason/fbi photo

Some agents feel Mueller, a former federal prosecutor, didn’t truly understand the mindset of the agents. Some felt Freeh far better understood the agents and the agency, though to be fair, Freeh had his share of critics within the agency.

Some agents have said if a former  agent were not to get the job, they would prefer someone like Chicago’s U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.

But some observers inside the Beltway say Fitzgerald, considered a rock star among U.S. Attorneys, may have hurt his chances when he showed a little too much swagger in December 2008 when he announced the arrest of then-Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was later convicted on only  1 of 24 counts. The outcome was an embarrassment for the office, which plans to retry Blagojevich next month on the charges in which the jury deadlocked.

Another name that has surfaced as a possible candidate is John Pistole, the former number two person at the FBI who now heads up the Transportation Security Administration.

Pistole over the years has appeared on Capitol Hill to testify before Congress. He’s considered well poised, but some think he may not have enough gravitas to land the job. Still, some  rumors put him as a serious candidate.

Others names that have surfaced include former deputy General James Comey, Frances Fragos Townsend, a top Bush terror adviser during the Bush administration, NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, former Justice Department official Ken Wainstein, William Bratton,  police chief of Los Angeles, Boston and New York, and Ron Noble, head of Interpol.

John Pistole/dhs photo

Townsend would be the first woman to head the agency. Though some seem to think her close ties to the Bush administration could ultimately diminish her chances.

The prevailing wisdom is that a decision on who the White House wants should be made by  June — enough time  for a nominee  to go through the confirmation process.

FBI Agents Association Endorse Ex-FBI Agent Mike Mason as New Director

Mike Mason/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI Agents Association has endorsed ex-FBI agent Mike Mason to replace the soon-to-retire FBI Director Robert Mueller III.

The association, which represents more than 12,000 active duty and retired agents, said Tuesday that it had submitted the recommendation to the Obama Administration.

“While the FBIAA is not limiting itself to the candidacy of Mr. Mason, we believe it is important to provide an example of the type of person who embodies our principles,” wrote FBIAA President Konrad Motyka in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder.

“In the wake of 9-11, there was a concerted effort to transfer the Bureau’s domestic, intelligence-gathering responsibilities to a proposed MI5-styled agency,” wrote Motyka. “Quashing that effort, Director Mueller effectively explained the important linkage between criminal investigative principles and experience, intelligence gathering and analysis, and counterterrorism efforts.”

“While priorities may change,” continued Motyka, “Agents are as essential to our primary mission of protecting our country as they are to combating a wide array of threats ranging from Bloods street gangs to mortgage fraud to Russian sleeper cells…The next Director must remain committed to the centrality of the Special Agent to the Bureau’s mission.”

Mason would become the first African-American FBI director. He was a popular figure at the FBI. He was an agent for nearly 23 years and left to head up Verizon’s security in 2007. He held a number of positions during his tenure. He headed up the Sacramento and Washington field offices and retired as executive assistant director for the criminal division at headquarters.

The endorsement of an ex-agent comes as no surprise. The association generally prefers a law enforcement agent in the job. Robert Mueller, the current director, is a former federal prosecutor and the previous director,  Louis Freeh had been an agent at one time.

Mason declined comment on Tuesday when asked by ticklethewire.com  about his endorsements.

The endorsement doesn’t guarantee anything, but it could raise the profile of Mason as a candidate. Others names that have surfaced include U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald of Chicago, former deputy Attorney General James Comey,  ex-FBI agent John Pistole who heads the Transportation Security Administration, Frances Fragos Townsend, a top Bush terror adviser during the Bush administration,  NYPD  Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and former Justice Department official Ken Wainstein.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Threats Prompt Borders to Cancel Book Signings of Mobster Son Who Snitched for FBI on Dad

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

You can’t expect everyone to love ya when you snitch for the FBI on your mobster dad and then write a book about it.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Borders books in the Chicago area canceled two book signings slated for this week  for ex-Chicago mobster Frank Calabrese Jr., who helped put away his father Frank Calabrese Sr. and then co-authored a book called: “Operation Family Secrets: How a Mobster’s Son and the FBI Brought Down Chicago’s Murderous Crime Family.”

Apparently, the book store received anonymous threats saying there would be violence if Calabrese did the book signings, the Chicago Tribune reported.

“We can confirm that our Oak Brook store received a voice mail threatening violence should Mr. Calabrese’s scheduled book signings take place,” Mary Davis, spokeswoman for Borders, told the Tribune. “Given the controversial nature of the content of the book, we viewed this as a legitimate threat.”

Oak Brook, Ill. police Chief Thomas Sheahan told the Trib that a male caller disguised his voice and said: “No rats can sign books here.”

“We take any threats seriously,” Sheahan said. “This is an ongoing investigation, and we’ll take appropriate action.”

Mayor Bloomberg Doesn’t Want Ray Kelly to Head FBI

Mayor Bloomberg

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Despite what Sen. Charles Schumer says, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants his police commissioner Ray Kelly to stay put, according to the Huffington Post.

Schumer the other day told the New York Daily News that he’s going to push for Kelly to succeed FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, who finishes up his 10-year term in September.

Bloomberg isn’t disputing that Kelly would make a good FBI director. It’s just that he’s darn happy with what he’s doing in New York.

“Ray Kelly served his time in Washington and did a great job there,” Bloomberg said, according to the Huffington Post. “I, for one, would like him…expect him to stay for the next 1,023 days.”

Kelly was the undersecretary for enforcement at the Department of the treasury from 1996 to 1998, the Huffington Post noted, and he was commissioner of the US Customs Service from 1998 to 2001.

The website said Bloomberg cited low crime rates and effective counter-terrorism as reasons for his fondness for Kelly.

FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List Turns 61

Boston Mobster Whitey Bulger remains on the list

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

As birthdays go, it may not be the most memorable one.

That said, the FBI felt it was worth noting on its website  that the The Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list turned 61 years old on Monday.

The FBI noted that 494 fugitives have made the list since its inception and 463 have been apprehended or located and 152 fugitives were captured or located as a result of citizen cooperation.

If you’re looking to make a few bucks, find one of these fugitives. The minimum reward of up to $100,000 is offered by the FBI for information leading directly to their arrest.

The Top 10 list currently includes such notables as Boston mobster Whitey Bulger and terrorist Osama bin Laden.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Lewis “Matt” Chapman to Head Mobile, Ala. FBI Office

Lewis M. Chapman/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Lewis “Matt” Chapman is taking charge  of the FBI’s Mobile, Ala. office, the FBI announced Monday.

Chapman’s last stop was as  FBI  section chief of the Investigative and Operations Support Section, Critical Incident Response Group in Quantico, Va.

The FBI said Chapman, as section chief, oversaw the FBI’s National Center for Analysis of Violent Crime, crisis management, special events, and rapid deployment logistics programs. He also served as the FBI on-scene commander at the Beijing Olympics.

He entered the FBI in 1988, first working in the Dallas division on violent crime, fugitives, public corruption and government fraud matters.

In 1999, he was bumped up to supervisory special agent at FBI Headquarters in the Counterterrorism Division, Weapons of Mass Destruction Operations Unit. At headquarters, he also served as an assistant inspector i the Inspection Division.

In 2002, he moved to the the Memphis Division as a supervisor of the Joint Terrorism Task Force and oversaw all foreign counterintelligence matters.

He then went off to the New Orleans office, where he served as an assistant special agent in charge from 2004 to 2008.