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FBI

NY Feds Free Admitted Terrorist After His Cooperation

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The feds have released an admitted terrorist after serving 4 1/2 years because of his cooperation, the New York NBC local affiliate reported.

The station reports that U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara confirmed that Mohammed Junaid Babar is free, but declined to say more.  A federal judge officially released him in December.

The station reported that the Queens man flew to Pakistan after Sept. 11, 2001  to join al Qaida.

In 2002, Babar said in an interview:”I will kill every American that I see in Afghanistan and while I’m in Pakistan if I see them in Pakistan I will kill every American soldier I see in Pakistan.”

After his arrest seven years ago, after returning from Pakistan, the station reported that Babar helped the FBI and British authorities in terrorist cases.

The station reported that assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon McGuire during a hearing in December called Babar’s cooperation “exceptional.”

“The defendant has testified previously at four different trials involving numerous terrorism defendants, three trials in the UK and one in Canada,” McGuire said.

To read more click here.

New FBI Show on CBS Needs Fresher Feel, NY Critic Says

CBS's new drama about an elite team of agents in the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit

By David Hinckley
New York Daily News

This spinoff from “Criminal Minds” illustrates the danger of a television network getting too good at something.

CBS has done so well with “police procedurals” – shows that set up a crime and walk the viewer through to its solution – that the network seems to think we viewers will just keep watching more of them forever.

At a certain point, though, we need something fresher than “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior” is providing.

The show scores up front with two A-list actors: Forest Whitaker as lead FBI agent Sam Cooper, and Janeane Garofalo as Beth Griffith, a fellow agent who among other things keeps Sam from becoming a loose cannon.

To read more click here. (The Show Airs Wednesday at 9 p.m. on CBS)

Column: Justice Dept. May Not Have Served Up Justice Following Mob Hit

Allan Lengel

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 The court rescinded an $8.5 million judgment handed down two years ago against the government in the 1982 murders of two people by James “Whitey” Bulger, a notorious Boston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.

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.

Whitey Bulger

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.

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?’’

More Charges Come Raining Down on Ex-D.C. Suburban County Exec Jack Johnson

Jack Johnson/wusa

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Jack Johnson, who in his final weeks as a county executive in suburban Washington got busted on a wiretap advising his wife to hide evidence as FBI agents knocked on the door, was indicted Monday on charges of conspiracy, extortion, tampering with a witness and evidence and taking more than $200,000 in bribes.

The indictment against former Prince George’s County Executive Jack B. Johnson, 61, highlighted the rampant corruption in one of the most affluent  African-American majority counties in the nation. Johnson, a former state’s attorney in Prince George’s County, and his wife, a newly elected county council member,  were originally arrested in November on a criminal complaint for evidence tampering.

“Pay-to-play government is not democratic government,” Baltimore U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said in a statement. “Anyone who seeks benefits or approvals from the government should be evaluated on the merits, without being extorted for payments or losing out to competitors who pay bribes. Government employees flagrantly abuse the public trust when they take money in return for official acts.”

Read more »

Congressman Opposes Plan to Name Museum Research Center After J. Edgar Hoover

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II/gov photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The FBI’s legendary director J. Edgar Hoover continues to stir up controversy.

The latest: the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II (D-Mo.) is voicing opposition to a plan to name the research center at the yet to be built National Law Enforcement Museum in Washington after Hoover, USA Today reported.

“It is not healthy for the nation if his legacy does not include an asterisk for his (archaic) views on race,” Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo. said, according to USA Today. “I’m wondering what Dr. King would say to us.”

Cleaver expressed particular concern about the FBI’s campaign to discredit Martin Luther King Jr.

USA Today reported that Cleaver is even bothered by the fact the FBI headquarters building on Pennsylvania Avenue is named after Hoover. He calls it  a “sore point for a lot of people.”

USA Today reported that the National Law Enforcement Museum, authorized by Congress, is set to open in 2013.

J. Edgar Hoover/fbi photo

The paper reported that foundation Director William Branon, a former FBI agent, defended the naming of the center, saying it was “in keeping with the goals of the foundation: to perpetuate the good name of Mr. Hoover. … No editorializing.”

“I can’t think of a more fitting place to carry his name,” Branon said.

Hoover’s name has resurfaced in the media lately in relation to a movie being made by Clint Eastwood on Hoover’s life. The movie is reportedly going to show Hoover having a long-standing romantic relationship with his right hand man, Clyde Tolson. Some former and current FBI agents have expressed dismay over that aspect of the movie.

To read more click here.

Court of Appeals Takes FBI Off the Hook in Murders Involving Mobster Whitey Bulger

Whitey Bulger

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The U.S. Court of Appeals has taken the FBI off the hook — at least for now in a multi-million dollar lawsuit.

The Boston Globe reported that U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston last week overturned an $8.5 million court award two years ago to the families of two men who were murdered by FBI informant James “Whitey’’ Bulger, a notorious Boston mobster who has been on the lam for years and is on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.  A judge two years ago concluded that the FBI was to blame for the murders for failing to properly handle its informant.

The Court of Appeals on Thursday ruled in favor of the Justice Department, which represented the FBI, saying the statute of limitations elapsed, and therefore, the families had waited too long to file the lawsuits after the murders of Michael Donahue and Edward “Brian’’ Halloran.

“The murders robbed both the Donahue and Halloran families of loved ones, and their losses were exacerbated by years of government evasion,’’ the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit wrote in a 55-page decision granting the government’s motion to dismiss the suits, the Globe reported. “But statutes of limitation are designed to operate mechanically. They aspire to bring a sense of finality to events that occurred in the distant past and to afford defendants the comfort of knowing that stale claims cannot be pursued.’’

Lawyers said they planned to appeal, according to the Globe.

Donahue’s widow, Patricia,  told the Globe she was shocked and disappointed by the ruling.

“We won in court and then the government who is responsible for my husband’s death wins the case,’’  Donahue  told the Globe.  “I am just so disappointed in the system. . . . We were treated like criminals, and we were the victims.’’

The Globe reported that “Michael Donahue, 32, a Dorchester truck driver and innocent bystander, was giving Halloran, 41, a Bulger associate, a ride home from a bar on Boston’s waterfront on May 11, 1982, when Bulger and an unidentified accomplice opened fire on the pair, killing both.”

Steve Flemmi/dateline nbc

U.S. District Court Judge Reginald C. Lindsay found the FBI was negligent in its handling of Bulger and his sidekick Stephen Flemmi. In March 2009, another judge held a trial on damages and awarded $6.4 million to Donahue’s wife and sons and $2 million to Halloran’s widow, the Globe reported.

To read more click here.

READ RULING

Washington Post Editorial Praises Justice. Dept. IG Glenn Fine

Glenn Fine/doj photo

By The Washington Post
Editorial Page

WASHINGTON — THE JOB of inspector general is often a thankless one, requiring the ability to make unflinching and crucial assessments that are not always well received by colleagues.

The Justice Department employed one of the best for the past decade in the person of Glenn A. Fine, who recently stepped down.

Mr. Fine was instrumental in unearthing problems and identifying solutions in the mammoth agency since joining the IG’s office in the mid-1990s. He took over the reins in 2000 and led investigations into all facets of the department’s operations.

He documented the FBI’s early abuse of national security letters – powerful tools issued without judicial review and used to obtain information from individuals and corporations alike. He later produced an authoritative review lauding FBI leaders for significant improvements. This latter report was credible in part because Mr. Fine did not pull punches in his original criticism.

To read more click here.

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