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FBI

House Passes Bill Reducing Sentencing Disparity With Crack Cocaine

file photo/dea

file photo/dea

By Glynnesha Taylor
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The House on Wednesday passed legislation drastically reducing the sentencing disparity between crack and powdered cocaine — a longtime disparity critics saw as unfairly targeting African Americans.

Previously, under the 1986 law, a person selling crack got the same sentence as someone selling 100 times the amount of powdered cocaine. The ratio will now go to 18 to 1.

The old bill became law while crack-cocaine was spinning out of control and savaging urban areas. But critics said it amounted to giving harsher sentences to African Americans who sold crack and lesser sentences to whites who were selling more of the powder cocaine.

The bill now goes before President Obama for his signature.

Read more »

Mueller Says Agents Are Helping in Probe into Leaks of Afghanistan Documents

Mueller testifying on Wed./ticklethewire.com photo

Mueller testifying on Wed./ticklethewire.com photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said Wednesday that his agents were assisting the Department of Defense in a controversial leak investigation into the ream of documents that were leaked on the Afghanistan war.

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he also acknowledged a Justice Department probe into the possibility that agents around the country may have cheated on an open book test on FBI procedures. When pressed, he said it was unclear how many agents were involved, but the Associated Press reported that the Justice Department was looking at hundreds of agents to determine whether they cheated.

He also told Senators that that agents were not targeting people for investigations based on race, contrary to allegations by some groups.

In all, the exchanges between Mueller and Senators was amicable and several complimented him for being an outstanding public servant.

Mueller diplomatically sidestepped a question by Sen. Al Franken, who asked him his opinion on whether “enhanced” interrogation techniques in questioning terrorists was effective. Mueller simply said that he felt the FBI’s techniques — which do not involve torture — were effective.

Probe into Bush U.S. Atty Firings Finds Nothing Criminal

David Iglesias

David Iglesias

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — A lengthy criminal investigation into the controversial firings of U.S. Attorneys during the Bush years ended with a whimper Wednesday.

The Associated Press reported that no criminal charges were warranted in the two-year probe that began looking at the firings of 9 U.S. Attorneys, but ended up honing in on the highest profile firing involving New Mexico U.S. Attorney David Iglesias in 2006.

The probe concluded that the actions behind Iglesias’ firing were politically inappropriate, but not criminal.

The probe, headed by career Justice Department prosecutor Nora Dannehy, concluded, according to a letter from the Justice Department to lawmakers:

“Evidence did not demonstrate that any prosecutable criminal offense was committed with regard to the removal of David Iglesias. The investigative team also determined that the evidence did not warrant expanding the scope of the investigation beyond the removal of Iglesias.”

To read more click here.

Read Letter From Justice Department

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Attorney For Tomato King Says FBI Illegally Obtained Documents

Fresh tomatoeBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

You say tomato. The lawyers for tomato king Frederick Scott Salyer  say something far harsher.

Defense lawyer for the former chief executive officer of the now defunct SK Foods, a tomato-product empire, claim in a court filing Tuesday in Sacramento that the FBI illegally used an informant to steal documents for its case rather than legal search warrants, the Sacramento Bee reported.

Salyer is in jail awaiting sentencing on charges of racketeering, bribery, obstruction of justice and antitrust violations that could send him to prison for life. Prosecutors allege that Salyer’s company inflated prices on millions of pounds of processed tomatoes sold to 55 companies in 22 states.

The defense claims the FBI obtained key documents in the case without court-authorized warrants from an informant — a vice president of the company, who took the materials, the Bee reported.

“The government’s case is based entirely on clear and substantial violations of the Fourth Amendment (which prohibits searches and seizures without warrants) by the FBI agent,” a defense attorney wrote.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office defended the case.

“We are confident that the investigation was handled properly, and we will vigorously represent the interests of the United States in court,” First Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolyn Delaney said in a statement to The Bee.

Surprise: Ex-Gov. Blago May Not Testify After All in Fed Trial

Ex-Gov Blagojevich

Ex-Gov Blagojevich

UPDATE: Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich did not testify in court this morning, as his defense team rested without calling a witness. Closing arguments are scheduled to take place at 9:30 a.m. Monday.

“It is my decision, judge,” Blagojevich said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “I made the decision freely.” Before the trial, the ex-governor maintained he would testify on his own behalf, a claim he reiterated as recently as Monday.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The lawyers for Rod Blagojevich may ask the ex-Illinois governor to do what he’s least good at: Keeping his big yap shut.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that defense attorneys told U.S. District Judge James Zagel Tuesday afternoon that they planned to rest their case without presenting a witness, including Blagojevich, who had been expected to take the stand.

The paper reported that the judge, in a private conference, told lawyers to think about it overnight.

The Sun-Times reported that the father and son defense lawyer team — Sam Adam Sr. and Sam Adam Jr. — said they disagree over whether the ex-gov should testify.

The father thought he shouldn’t because the government failed to prove its case, the paper reported. The son said he should since he promised jurors in his opening statement that Blagojevich would testify.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

ATF and FBI Investigate Fire Involving Fed Prosecutor’s Mailbox

mailboxBy Allan lengel
ticklethewire.com

There are mailboxes. And then there are mailboxes that belong to federal prosecutors.

As for the latter, those mailboxes get special attention.

The Palm Beach Post reports that the FBI, ATF and U.S. Postal Service are investigating a firework on Sunday that triggered a fire in the mailbox of an assistant U.S. Attorney in Caloosa, Fla., just north of Palm Beach Gardens.

The paper reported that Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department sent out a bomb squad to investigate and the FBI and ATF have now joined in.

Still, it may be nothing more than a prank.

“It looks more like malicious mischief at this time,” ATF spokesman Carlos Baixauli told the paper. “We don’t know if the people knew she was a U.S. Attorney, or if it was somebody having fun trying to blow up a mailbox. Right now we have nothing to believe it was intended for her.”

FBI and Uganda Authorities Release Photos of Suspected Suicide Bombers

A suspected suicide bombers

A suspected suicide bomber/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON –– In hopes of learning their identities, the FBI and and Uganda authorities  have released photos of two suspected suicide bombers who helped kill more than 70 people on July 11 in the Uganda capital of Kampala.

The Somali terrorist group Al-Shabaab has taken responsibility for the attacks at different places where people had gathered to watch the World Cup soccer matches.

Authorities said photos of two suicide bombers were reconstructed from real photos.

At the request of the Uganda government, the FBI New York Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) deployed a team of agents, analysts, and forensic experts to help in the probe. FBI employees from other parts of the country were also deployed.

2nd suspected suicide bomber/fbi photo

2nd suspected suicide bomber/fbi photo

Major General Kale Kayihura, Inspector General of Uganda police said in a statement:

“This was a horrific event for the people of Uganda and we are dedicated to tracking down those responsible for this heinous crime.

“Terrorist activity must be stopped and the police force will do everything possible to keep our citizens and visitors safe. We thank the U.S. Embassy for arranging for the FBI to travel to Uganda and assist us with our critical investigation. I thank the FBI, the British High Commission, New Scotland Yard, and Interpol among the many others nations and agencies that are assisting us at this time. Our teams are working exceptionally well together in all facets of the investigation.”

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

FBI and ATF Join Car Bomb Probe in Mexico Allegedly Involving Drug Cartel in Border Town

mexico-border-signBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI and ATF have joined the probe in Mexico into a July 15 car bomb in the border town of Juarez that killed three people, the El Paso Times reported. The bomb, made of  C-4 plastic, was detonated by cell phone.

It was the first time drug cartels had used a car bomb in Mexico, a disturbing sign in a drug war that appears to be only getting worse.

“The FBI sent a small team to the crime scene to consult with our Mexican counterparts and we have offered them technical assistance with the car bombing,” El Paso FBI Special Agent Andrea Simmons said Sunday, according to the the paper. “We would only be involved if the Mexican government asked for our assistance in some way.”

ATF spokesman Tom Crowley in Dallas said his agency was also assisting, the El Paso Times reported.

“The ATF is providing Mexican officials with help on the technical aspects of the bomb,” Crowley told the paper. “We have provided post-blast training to Mexican law enforcement in the past. It is the same kind of training we give to state and local police in the United States.

“Post-blast involves reconstructing the device used in the explosion so investigators can determine what it was and where it might have come from.”

The paper reported that Mexican authorities said the bombing was the result of officials arresting a lieutenant in the Carrillo Fuentes drug cartel.

To read more click here.