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The 2nd Anniversary of ticklethewire.com

Allan Lengel

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON —  Sept. 19th marked the second anniversary of the website ticklethewire.com.

It’s been one interesting ride, starting up a new enterprise, trying to cover a subject I’ve had a fascination with since I started journalism.

In the past two years, we’ve seen the good, the bad and very ugly. We saw the changing of the guard at the Justice Department.  A new Attorney General.  New U.S. Attorneys.  We saw the public corruption conviction of ex-Rep. William Jefferson.  We witnessed the FBI, thankfully, unearth some scary terrorist plots.

We had the “Times Square Bomber”. We had the “Underwear bomber”. And financial terrorist Bernie Madoff.

We saw John Gotti Jr. walk free after four deadlocked trials. We saw the somewhat shocking outcome of the Rod Blagojevich case.  We saw a cheating scandal involving tests at the FBI. And we just saw some FBI agents busted for lying about taking steroids.

I suspect the next year will be just as exciting. I want to thank everyone for the reading the site and the many around the country who have provided feedback on the content.

I invite anyone who has any suggestions to write me and let me know what you like or don’t like. And I always invite anyone to comment on stories, particularly if you think the coverage has  been unfair.

Thanks again for taking time out to read the ticklethewire.com. And I look forward to another fascinating year.

All the Best,

Allan Lengel
editor, ticklethewire.com
lengela@ticklethewire.com

Weekend Series on Crime History: FBI Agent Infiltrated Gambino Crime Family

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_QTyTiCjQ4

John Gotti’s Confidante Avoids Prison Term

The late mobster  John J. Gotti

The late mobster John J. Gotti

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Garment businessman Lewis Kasman, the late mobster John Gotti’s confidante and self-proclaimed “adopted son” and FBI mole avoided getting a prison sentence Thursday for lying to the FBI and other crimes, Long Island’s Newsday reported.

U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn on Thursday spared Kasman, 53, a prison sentence for obstruction of justice, lying to the FBI, fraud and racketeering, Newsday reported, saying he committed some of the crimes while he was cooperating with the FBI. He was sentenced to time served and given three years probation.

The paper said the judge acknowledged that Kasman’s cooperation was a big help in battling the Gambino crime family that Gotti headed up.

“At great risk to himself [Kasman] leveraged the substantial trust that he had built within the Gambino family to provide the government with valuable information,” said Garaufis, according to the paper.

“I did enjoy running with the bad guys at that point in my life,” Kasman told Garaufis, the paper reported. “It is a hard lesson learning to live a clean life.”

FBI Advises Seattle Cartoonist to Go into Hiding

seattleBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

By now one thing we’ve learned in this post-9/11 world of our is that cartoons aren’t always a laughing matter.

The FBI has reportedly advised Seattle-based cartoonist Molly Norris to go into hiding as a result of a fatwa or death sentence that has been issued.  The fatwa was issued after she drew a cartoon this summer:  “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day”,  the Seattle P-I website reported. The news site said the movement became popular on Facebook.

The P-I reported that Seattle Weekly editor-in-chief Mark D. Fefer wrote in Wednesday’s issue that  Norris’ comic would no longer appear in the paper.

He noted that the cartoonist involves “moving, changing her name, and essentially wiping away her identity.”  The FBI did not comment, the P-I reported.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Sweet Deal Unlikely for “Underwear Bomber”

Suspect Abdulmutallab/u.s. marshals photo

Suspect Abdulmutallab/u.s. marshals photo

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

Short of handing over Osama bin Laden, the “underwear bomber” accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas Day isn’t likely to strike up a deal with prosecutors that will set him free any time soon, legal experts say.

“I don’t think they’re going to be flexible, short of him giving them phenomenal active intelligence,” said Brian M. Legghio, a former federal prosecutor in Detroit. “They’re going to be looking at lengthy prison time, 40 or 50 years, if not life.”

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 24, hinted in court Monday that he might plead guilty to some of the charges. The Nigerian national also fired his court-appointed attorneys, saying they weren’t representing his best interests. He will represent himself.

Just what kind of deal he can hammer out on his own is unclear, but legal experts say he’s made that task all the more difficult by firing his lawyers, who had met with prosecutors on multiple occasions to try to work out a plea deal, according to court records.

“I think that’s a huge tactical mistake on his part,” said defense attorney Thomas Cranmer, a former Detroit federal prosecutor who has represented a number of high-profile criminal defendants. “I have great respect for the people in the Federal Defender Office. I know they were working very hard to achieve the best results for him under the circumstances. I would be surprised if he could do better or certainly as well as the federal defenders.”

Defense attorney Sanford Plotkin, a former federal defender in Detroit, added: “The Federal Defender Office has some of the most capable attorneys in town to handle this case.”

The Justice Department declined comment on the matter. One government source said that if he is convicted or pleads guilty, Abdulmutallab is likely to get life in prison. The ultimate decision would be left up to U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds.

From all reports, the government appears to have overwhelming evidence against Abdulmutallab. The Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit carried nearly 300 people, many of whom witnessed the incident. Many said an explosive device in his pants could be seen smoking after he allegedly tried to detonate it. Others reported hearing Abdulmutallab say he had a bomb.

Abdulmutallab is said to have provided U.S. authorities with information about his contacts in Yemen, where al-Qaida operatives allegedly trained him. And earlier this year, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III told the Senate Intelligence Committee that Abdulmutallab had provided valuable information.

That being said, former D.C. U.S. Attorney Roscoe C. Howard Jr. says Abdulmutallab’s cooperation may not amount to all that much.

“Sometimes in life you get to walk out as a free man again. Sometimes that’s all you’re hoping for. Sometimes the government will say, ‘I can’t promise anything,’ and you can hope the government is lenient at a later time,” Howard said.

He added that the government could offer Abdulmutallab a better prison facility for his cooperation.

When negotiating a plea deal, the Justice Department will have to look at the other issues besides the quality of the information being provided — such as the public’s reaction to a deal that falls short of a life sentence, Howard said.

“I can guarantee you they are concerned about public opinion,” Howard said. “They read the papers, they listen to the news shows.”

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Still, he said, the government has to do the right thing. “Your decision can’t be based on a popularity contest.”

Howard said one test he used while serving as a U.S. attorney in Washington from 2001 to 2004 was “The Washington Post test. If something appears on the top of the page of The Washington Post and you can’t explain it, don’t do it.”

Abdulmutallab could opt to go to trial and roll the dice. But former Detroit federal prosecutor David Griem said that’s probably not a great option.

“Whether Abdulmutallab represents himself or brings in Clarence Darrow from the dead to represent him, the result is going to be exactly the same: He’s going to get convicted on all counts.”

Column: Ex-FBI Official Says He’s “Embarrassed and Ashamed” About Agents Getting Busted For Steroid Use

Anthony Riggio is a former lawyer who went on to work for the FBI for 24 years.  He held a number of posts during that time including assistant special agent in charge of the Detroit office. He retired in 1995 as a senior executive at FBI headquarters.

Tony Riggio

Tony Riggio

By Anthony T. Riggio, FBI Agent (Retired)
For ticklethewire.com

I am a retired FBI agent who has devoted almost 26 years to the service of my country, both in the Army and the FBI. I have great affection for my country and tremendous respect for the job the Bureau does for our nation.

I never aspired to become an FBI agent, but when I became disenchanted with the practice of law, I took a big chance, against my Dad’s advice, and accepted a position as an agent. I’ve never looked back and I enjoyed a long and satisfying career. Being an FBI agent was a job, I believe, I was born to do; nothing else would have scratched that itch.

The FBI is always forefront in the public eye, for good or bad, the former far outweighing the latter. Much of the bad press is based on a bias of which politics and personal agendas play a great role. While I find bad press personally disturbing, I recognize it often provides for personal and institutional growth by the Bureau to better serve the American people.

When, however, an FBI agent or a support employee crosses the line, I, like everyone in law enforcement, shed a tear or two. Our hearts break because someone has violated their oath to uphold the law. “Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle against…the devil.” This is part of the prayer to Saint Michael, patron saint of police officers, who expelled Lucifer from heaven.

When I read about three FBI Agents and one support employee being arrested for using Human Growth Hormones (HGH) as part of a regiment to enhance their strength and musculature, I was embarrassed and ashamed. They will be fired from an honorable profession that hundreds of thousands of law enforcement professionals honor every day. Should these four be found guilty, they will be among other fallen demons in our jails across the country. They turned their backs on those of us who honor the profession every day of our lives.

Read more »

GAO to Examine Science Behind Anthrax Investigation; Some Still Skeptical

Anthrax Suspect Bruce Ivins

Anthrax Suspect Bruce Ivins

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

By the FBI’s account, the anthrax case that triggered a wave of panic in this nation in 2001 with the death of five people, has been solved.

But not all are as convinced as the FBI that the real culprit is government scientist Bruce Ivins, who committed suicide in July 2008 before authorities could charge him.

So, as a result of a request by one skeptic, Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.), the Government Accountability Office will exam the science behind the FBI’s conclusion that Ivins was the guy, reporter Evan Perez writes in the Wall Street Journal.

The Journal noted that a separate review of the FBI’s work by the National Academy of Scientists will likely be wrapped up this fall.

Ex-FBI Agent Jody Weis Has His Problems as Chicago Police Chief

Chief Johy Weis/police photo

Chief Johy Weis/police photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Since the beginning, Chicago Police chief Jody Weis, an ex-FBI agent, has been battling the perception of being an outsider in an agency that doesn’t take so kindly to such things.

The latest attack on Weis came Wednesday when more than 300 off-duty Chicago cops stood outside police headquarters  to protest his reign, the Associated Press reported.

The protesters carried signs: “More police, No Weis”, and “Resign,” while chanting, “Jody’s got to go!”, the AP reported.

Weis was appointed by Mayor Richard Daily in 2008 to clean up the department. But Daily has chosen not to run for re-election, which could spell the end of Weis’ tenure as chief.

To read more click here.