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FBI

Ex-NASA Contractor Admits Stealing Flight Suit of First Female in Space

nasaBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A former contract employee at NASA, who was responsible for the maintenance of astronaut flight suits, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Houston to stealing the NASA flight suit of the first female American astronaut in space and other property, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Calvin Dale Smith, 56, of Houston, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Nancy F. Atlas to stealing NASA property including a flight suit worth more than $1000 and various specialized machined parts valued at approximately $7,372, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

A criminal complaint said the flight suit bore the name patch Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut in space.

The stolen property was recovered at Smith’s Houston home on May 5, 2009, by agents of NASA’s Office of Inspector General, which executed a search warrant, authorities said.

The agents found the goods in a suitcase in a room that had an alarm. Authorities say the investigation began after Smith’s estranged wife reported the matter to the FBI. Sentencing was set for Nov. 2.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Breaking News: Blago Convicted on 1 of 24 Counts; Jury Deadlocks on 4 Counts Against Brother

Ex-Gov Blagojevich as gov/state photo

Ex-Gov Blagojevich as gov/state photo

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

A federal jury in Chicago on Tuesday convicted ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on just one count but deadlocked on 23 others, including the allegation that he tried to sell President Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat.

The former governor could face up to five years in prison on the one conviction, lying to federal agents. U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said his office planned to retry the case soon.

“For all practical purposes, we are in the mode of being close to jury selection for a retrial,” Fitzgerald said.

Outside the courthouse, Blagojevich insisted, “I didn’t break any laws.”

“Let me also say this to the people of Illinois — that from the very beginning this all happened, I told them I did not let them down,” he said.

Blagojevich, 53, said he would appeal the single conviction on what he called a “nebulous” charge.

“I didn’t break any laws,”he said. “I did not lie to the FBI.”

To read more click here.

Deputy Atty. General Blasts FBI and ATF For Not Getting Along in 8-Page Memo

Dep. A.G. Gary Grindler/doj photo

Dep. A.G. Gary Grindler/doj photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The ongoing turf battle between the FBI and ATF is getting renewed attention.

ABC News reports that Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler has fired off a letter saying the ongoing Hatfield-McCoy relationship can cause confusion as to who is in charge at scenes and when trying to defuse live bombs.

“We cannot afford to let any uncertainty about roles and responsibilities interfere with a timely and effective response to explosives incidents,” Grindler said in 8-page memo, which directs the agencies to get along, according to ABC News. “Prior efforts to remedy this situation through protocols and Attorney General memoranda have failed to achieve sustainable, clearly defined lines between ATF’s and FBI’s jurisdiction.”

“Despite the impressive records of both agencies in this mission space, the current situation … must be remedied.”

The problem is certainly nothing new. Instances have popped up from time to time including in March 2003 when North Carolina farmer Dwight Watson brought his tractor to the pond at the National Mall and falsely claimed to have a bomb, bringing  part of the District to a standstill for two days.  In that instance, FBI and ATF agents argued over jurisdiction.

To read more click here

To read memo click here.

Transportation Security Administration Supervisor Pleads Guilty to Stealing Items From Luggage

airport-people-walkingBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It’s bad enough airline customers have to pay to check in luggage. But to have to pay and then have things stolen from the luggage.

Well, former Transportation Security Administration supervisor Randy Pepper pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court in Seattle to stealing $20,000 in jewelry and other items from checked luggage at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, the Associated Press reported.

AP reported that Pepper was fired in July 2009 after a TSA worker saw him remove items from luggage. Pepper pawned the items, AP reported.

Pepper is set to be sentenced in November. The AP reported the guideline range is six months to one year in prison.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

FBI Defends itself in Unsolved Civil Rights-Era Murders

Michael Kortan (left) talking to ex-FBI Dir. Louis Freeh in 2008/fbi photo

Michael Kortan (left) talking to ex-FBI Dir. Louis Freeh in 2008/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — From time to time, the FBI publicly shoots back when criticized in the press. Saturday in the Washington Post was one of those moments.

Michael Kortan, chief spokesman for the FBI, fired off a letter to the editor in response to an Aug. 8 op-ed columny by Emery University journalism professor Hank Klibanoff who criticized the FBI and Justice Department for doing far too little to help solve 109 murders in the south in the 1950s and 1960s that appeared to be racially motivated.

Kortan wrote: “It would be wrong to conclude that a lack of publicity equals a failure to investigate murder cases in the South in the 1950s and ’60s that appeared to be racially motivated. For example, in one case the FBI has completed more than 70 interviews, deployed an undercover agent and used our laboratory to evaluate evidence.

Hank Klibanoff/ univ. photo

Hank Klibanoff/ univ. photo

“Prosecuting decades-old crimes involves significant challenges. Many of the crimes represent a violation of state, not federal, law. Accordingly, six cases have been referred to state authorities. And prosecution is not the sole measure of success.

In more than 50 of these cases, the identified suspect is dead. To date, 36 letters were hand-delivered by FBI agents to the victim’s next of kin detailing the investigation’s findings. This is a significant accomplishment that we hope provides a measure of closure to these families.”

Klibanoff,  managing editor of the Civil Rights Cold Case Project, wrote: “Justice and the FBI have not, on their own, generated a single case from the list of 109, or from many other murders in their voluminous files.”

“Every case that Justice has successfully prosecuted has been the result of work by investigative reporters. The killers of Medgar Evers; the four little girls in the Birmingham church; Vernon Dahmer; Ben Chester White; and Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman would not have been prosecuted and convicted without the discoveries made by reporter Jerry Mitchell of the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss.”

To read Klibanoff’s column click here.

Thomas Harrington Named to #3 Spot at FBI

Thomas Harrington (right)/fbi photo

Thomas Harrington (right)/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Thomas J. Harrington was named to the number three spot at the FBI, replacing Timothy P. Murphy, who moved up to the number two spot, the FBI announced Friday.

Up until now, Harrington was the FBI’s number four person, serving as the executive assistant director of the Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch.

“Throughout his 25 years with the Bureau, T.J. has distinguished himself as an innovative leader,” FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said in a statement. “He has led our efforts to become a more intelligence-led organization and initiated proven management practices to track progress, address gaps, and evaluate successes for our highest priorities and initiatives.”

Ticklethewire.com reported July 26 that Harrington was being considered for the number three spot.   Along with that report, came speculation that Shawn Henry, who now heads up the Washington field office, would return to headquarters and take the number four spot. Then Kevin Perkins, who heads up the Criminal Investigative Division at headquarters,  would take over the Washington field office.

Stay tuned.

To Read Harrington bio click here.

Ex-FBI’s John Pistole Planning Changes at TSA

john_s_pistole tsaBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — As expected, the FBI’s number two person John Pistole, who now heads up the Transportation Security Administration, is making some changes.

The Federal Diary column at the Washington Post reports that Pistole is considering creating a small corps of TSA officers that would have law enforcement status.

Currently, screeners do not have that status and don’t carry guns and don’t make arrests. When they find something wrong — like a gun is found — law enforcement moves in to make the arrest if it’s warranted.

Pistole, in an interview with column’s author Joe Davidson, said the law enforcement would come from the current ranks or police agencies.

“Those details are currently being worked out, but I like the idea of having those who have experience in the business. But I’m looking at all options.”

As an aside, one question remains: How long will Pistole be around to implement changes at TSA?

That’s anyone’s guess. His name has occasionally surfaced in the rumor mill as a candidate to head up the FBI when Director Robert S. Mueller III steps down next year.

To read more from the column click here.

More State and Local Cops Getting FBI Top Secret Clearances

fbi logo largeBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — More state and local law enforcement officers are getting access to sensitive information about terrorism  from the federal government, USA Today reports.

The paper reported that the number of top-secret clearances from the FBI for local and state cops has been the highest since Sept. 11, 2001.

“Clearances granted to members of the FBI’s network of regional terrorism task forces jumped to 878 in 2009, up from 125 in 2007, signaling intensified attention to domestic terror threats,” the paper wrote. “During the same period, clearances granted to other law enforcement officers and contractors soared to 945 from 364.”

To read more click here.