Links

Columnists



Site Search


Entire (RSS)
Comments (RSS)

Archive Calendar

June 2021
S M T W T F S
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930  

Guides

How to Become a Bounty Hunter



FBI

Public Hearing on Anthrax May Be Inevitible

Anthrax Suspect Bruce Ivins

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON – Though the FBI and Justice Department are thoroughly convinced that scientist Bruce Ivins mailed the deadly anthrax letters in 2001, it seems almost inevitable now that some very costly and protracted public hearing will be conducted to review the whole case.  Unfortunately, Ivins killed himself in July 2008 before any charges could be filed against him.

The case once again came alive on Tuesday when the National Research Council released a 170-page report commissioned by the FBI that showed that the Justice Department and FBI  overstated their case when they definitively concluded that the anthrax used in the deadly mailings came from a flask from Ivins’  government laboratory at Fort Detrick in Maryland labeled RMR-1029. The report said it could not rule out other possible sources.

“The scientific link between the letter material and flask number RMR-1029 is not as conclusive as stated in the DOJ Investigative Summary,” the report said.

However, Lehigh University President Alice P. Gast, who led the 16-member National Research Council Committee that reviewed the cutting-edge science used in the investigation, said: “We find the scientific evidence to be consistent with their conclusions but not as definitive as stated.”

Unfortunately,  the study only examined  the sciences in the investigation and didn’t taken into account other key aspects — interviews, the behavior of Ivins, fingerprints, etc. And it avoided at all costs the thing everyone really wanted it to do: Say whether Ivins was the guy.

I spoke to folks on Tuesday at the FBI and Justice Department who insist, in totality, the evidence against Ivins is overwhelming, that the science was only a component of the investigation.

But I also spoke to Ivins attorney Paul Kemp who insisted the study showed the government’s smoking gun — the flask –  was merely smoke and mirrors. He wants a public review, possibly a Congressional hearing.

Sen. Chuck Grassley  (R-Ia.) chimed in on Tuesday and insisted it was time for a public review as did Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J).

It may not be what the FBI and Justice Department want. But they may have no say in the matter. The cries of the skeptics may be too much too ignore. And maybe a hearing would satisfy the skeptics — and maybe not.

Mexican Authorities Say Drug Cartel Shot and Killed ICE Agent

ICE Agent Jaime Zapata/ice photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

No surprise.

Mexican authorities are saying that two ICE agents who were shot in the northern part of the country Tuesday were ambushed on a road about four hours north of Mexico City by drug cartel gunmen, the Washington Post reports. One died and the other was wounded and is stable condition.

The paper reported that the governor of San Luis Potosi, Fernando Toranzo, where the shootings took place, were killed by the same cartel that has wreaked havoc in his state.

The paper reported that the agent killed has been identified as Jaime Zapata, 32. The other agent, whose name has not been released, was taken to a hospital in Houston. They were assigned to the ICE attache in Mexico City.

The paper reported that the Mexican government bans U.S. law enforcement personnel from carrying guns.

A press release said that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Attorney Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. had decided to form a joint task force, led by the FBI, to track down the perpetrators.

Agent Zapata joined ICE in 2006 and was assigned to the Office of the Deputy Special Agent in Charge in Laredo, Tex., where he served on the Human Smuggling and Trafficking Unit as well as the Border Enforcement Security Task Force, ICE said in a statement.

He began his federal law enforcement career with the Department of Homeland Security as a member of the U.S. Border Patrol in Yuma, Az. A native of Brownsville, Tex., he graduated from the University of Texas at Brownsville in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice.

Ex-FBI Employee Pleads in Scheme to Steal About $80,000 in Evidence

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

An ex-FBI employee in Indiana pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in Hammond in connection with the theft of about $80,000 in evidence from the agency’s storage vault,  according to the website nwi.com.

Melissa Sims, 36, of Lowell,Ind., who worked as a evidence control technician at the bureau’s Merrillville office in the Hoosier state, oversaw inventory of items seized during investigations, the website reported.

In court, a teary eyed Sims, according to nwi. com, described her scheme, saying:

“They would do an electronic communication to me saying, OK, these items can be returned. I would keep the items myself and put on the FD-192 form that it had been returned.”

Authorities say Sims stole cash evidence — ranging from $2 to $2,790 and asked a witness to lie about where the money came from, the website reported. She ended up pleading guilty to making false statements and must pay restitution in the tens of thousands of dollar, the wesbite reported.

Sentencing is set for June 1.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Column: Public Hearing on Anthrax Case May be Inevitable

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Though the FBI and Justice Department are thoroughly convinced that scientist Bruce Ivins mailed the deadly anthrax letters in 2001, it seems almost inevitable now that some very costly and protracted public hearing will be conducted to review the whole case.  Unfortunately, Ivins killed himself in July 2008 before any charges could be filed against him.

The case once again came alive on Tuesday when the National Research Council released a 170-page report commissioned by the FBI that showed that the Justice Department and FBI  overstated their case when they definitively concluded that the anthrax used in the deadly mailings came from a flask from Ivins’  government laboratory at Fort Detrick in Maryland labeled RMR-1029. The report said it could not rule out other possible sources.

“The scientific link between the letter material and flask number RMR-1029 is not as conclusive as stated in the DOJ Investigative Summary,” the report said.

However, Lehigh University President Alice P. Gast, who led the 16-member National Research Council Committee that reviewed the cutting-edge science used in the investigation, said: “We find the scientific evidence to be consistent with their conclusions but not as definitive as stated.”

Unfortunately,  the study only examined  the sciences in the investigation and didn’t taken into account other key aspects — interviews, the behavior of Ivins, fingerprints, etc. And it avoided at all costs the thing everyone really wanted it to do: Say whether Ivins was the guy.

I spoke to folks on Tuesday at the FBI and Justice Department who insist, in totality, the evidence against Ivins is overwhelming, that the science was only a component of the investigation.

But I also spoke to Ivins attorney Paul Kemp who insisted the study showed the government’s smoking gun — the flask —  was merely smoke and mirrors. He wants a public review, possibly a Congressional hearing.

Sen. Chuck Grassley  (R-Ia.) chimed in on Tuesday and insisted it was time for a public review as did Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J).

It may not be what the FBI and Justice Department want. But they may have no say in the matter. The cries of the skeptics may be too much too ignore. And maybe a hearing would satisfy the skeptics — and maybe not.

Set Back in FBI Probe into Murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

In what appears to be a major setback, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Phoenix has concluded that three men arrested in connection with the December fatal shooting of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in Arizona were not involved in the shootout, the Arizona Republic reported.

The paper reported that all three men were going to plead guilty to illegal entry into the U.S. and be deported.

Terry, a members of the Border Patrol’s elite tactical unit, BORTAC, was killed after confronting a group of bandits outside outside Rio Rico in southern Arizona.

The Arizona Republic reported that Robbie Sherwood, a U.S. Attorney spokesman, said the FBI found “no evidence tying these three individuals to the shooting. . . . We continue to devote significant resources and manpower to this investigation. This investigation is extremely active and progressing.”

Justice Dept. May Not Have Served Up Justice After Mob Hit

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

I have mixed feelings about a  ruling last week by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston. The court rescinded an $8.5 million judgment handed down two years ago against the government in the 1982 murders of two people by James “Whitey” Bulger, a notorious Boston mobster who was an FBI informant.

I’m not questioning the court’s ruling. But I am questioning whether the Justice Department served up justice in this instance by spending, in all likelihood, millions of dollars to fight a case, when in fact, the government was in the wrong.

Whitey Bulger

The story goes like this:

Whitey Bulger was an FBI informant during the dark years in Boston when mobsters like Bulger and FBI agents — and local law enforcement as well — got way too cozy.  Information flowed freely between the two sides. Mobsters, who acted as informants,  did bad things and got away with them.

Long after the fact, Stephen “Rifleman” Flemmi testified in court that then-FBI agent John Connolly Jr. told him and Bulger that Edward “Brian”  Halloran,  a Bulger associate, was snitching and had implicated them in a murder. Bulger responded.

The Boston Globe’s Shelley Murphy reported that Flemmi testified that  one night  when Michael Donahue, 32, a truck driver and innocent bystander, was giving Halloran a ride home from a bar on Boston’s waterfront, Bulger and an unknown accomplice gunned them both down. By 1998, the media was reporting about the corrupt relationship between the FBI and Bulger and Flemmi, and in 2000 and 2001, the families filed lawsuits against the government.

U.S. District Judge Reginald C. Lindsay subsequently found the FBI responsible, saying the agency was negligent in handling informants Bulger and Flemmi, according to the Globe. In March 2009, after a trial on the damages, U.S. District Judge William G. Young warded $6.4 million to Donahue’s wife and sons and $2 million to Halloran’s widow.

But the Court of Appeals last week concluded that the statute of limitation had run out — that the families should have filed their lawsuits within two years of the intense media coverage exposing the  corrupt relationship between the FBI and Bulger and Flemmi.

Steve Flemmi/dateline nbc

Sure the Justice Department did what any good law firm would do: Try to win the case for a client. The Justice Department did just that.  On the other hand, the Justice Department isn’t just another law firm; It’s called the Justice Department for a reason.

The lawyers for the families are expected to appeal.

What should the government do?

One of two things:  Settle out of court with the families or grab a dictionary and figure out what the word “Justice” actually means.

As an aside: Flemmi is serving life for 10 murders. Bulger is on the lam, accused of 19 murders. And FBI agent John Connolly Jr. is behind bars for second-degree murder for providing information to mobsters who put the hit on former World Jai-Alai President John Callahan in 1982.

That’s some justice. But not quite enough.

Patricia Donahue, whose husband was killed told the Globe how disappointed she was that the court essentially ruled that she should have paid closer attention to the press reports so the lawsuit would have been filed within the statute of limitations.

“There’s no apologies, no ‘I’m sorry,’ from the government,’’ Patricia Donahue said. “What kind of government tells me I should have read the newspaper and we lose because of that?’’

Report Raises Some Doubts About the Origin of the Killer Anthrax; Triggers Calls For Independent Review of Entire Case

Anthrax Suspect Bruce Ivins

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

WASHINGTON — A report released Tuesday on the scientific methods used to investigate the deadly anthrax attacks disputes a key conclusion by the FBI — and has triggered calls for an independent review of the entire case.

Investigators have concluded that government scientist Bruce Ivins mailed anthrax-laden letters to members of Congress and the media in 2001. Five people were killed and 17 others sickened. Ivins committed suicide in July 2008 before charges could be filed.

Ivins’ attorney said the new report casts doubt on the allegations against the scientist.

“The smoking gun is now just smoke and mirrors,” Paul F. Kemp told AOL News. “Every time more gets released it shows more weakness in their case. I think it’s time for a public hearing for somebody to systematically and carefully and dispassionately review this.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley also called for an independent review.

To read more click here.

Ex-FBI Agent Paul Lindsay Returns to the Motown for Book Tour

Paul Lyndsay

By Susan Whitall
The Detroit News

DETROIT — As a thriller author, Paul Lindsay doesn’t have to burn hours of time interviewing FBI agents or homicide detectives to get it right.

As Lindsay puts it, “I’ve got all my research down.” That’s because the author of “The Bricklayer” and his latest thriller, “Agent X” (both written under the nom de plume Noah Boyd), is a former FBI agent himself, with 20 years in the bureau’s Detroit office under his belt.

As an FBI agent, he spent years chasing down criminals like Benjamin Atkins, the Highland Park strangler, who murdered women along the Woodward Corridor in 1991 and 1992. Lindsay retired in 1993, after writing a book highly critical of his bosses.

To read more click here.

Reader Comments

Comment from Jim Burdick | [e]
Time February 16, 2011 at 12:04 pm

I read “The Bricklayer,” and it was terrific. Congrats to you, Paul, and I hope you’re bringing that character back, and soon. Jim Burdick