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FBI

FBI Dir. Mueller Warns Terrorist Threats “More Dangerous With Each Passing Day”; And Intelligence Director Misspeaks

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON – Some of  the Who’s Who of the federal law enforcement and intelligence community came to Capitol Hill at multiple hearings to talk about terrorism and security, including FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III Mueller, who warned of the dangers ahead.

“As the Christmas Day attempted bombing illustrates the threats we face are becoming more diverse and more dangerous with each passing day,” Mueller said in a statement before Congress.

Mueller testifying before Congress/cspan photo

Mueller testifying before Congress/cspan photo

“We not only face threats from al Qaeda, but also from self directed groups not part of al Qaeda’s formal structure, which have ties to terrorist organizations through money or training.”

Meanwhile, Dennis Blair, the director of National Intelligence apparently misspoke when testifying before Congress. He  said before a decision was made to prosecute in civilian court, underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab  should have been interrogated by the High Value Interrogation Group, a concept created last year after the President decided to close Gitmo, the Associated Press reported.

“That unit was created exactly for this purpose — to make a decision on whether a certain person who’s detained should be treated as a case for federal prosecution or for some of the other means,” Blair told the Senate homeland security committee. “We did not invoke the HIG in this case; we should have.”

He also said he was not consulted before a decision was made to question the bomber and prosecute him in a civilian court.

The problem is the unit was created in concept only.  It is not yet operational. In other words, it is non-existent.

Dennis Blair/cspan photo
Dennis Blair/cspan photo

But a press report on the  Washington Post website portrayed Blair as being critical of the FBI  and of  the decision to prosecute in civilian court and not use the interrogation unit.

Blair subsequently issued a statement on his agency’s website:

“My remarks today before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs have been misconstrued. The FBI interrogated Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab when they took him into custody. They received important intelligence at that time, drawing on the FBI’s expertise in interrogation that will be available in the HIG once it is fully operational.”

The Post reported Thursday that he added: “There should be a decision process right at the outset as to the balance between intelligence-gathering and evidence for prosecution.”

Fair to say, whatever the truth is here, there are differences that need to be ironed out between the intelligence community and the FBI.

Some on Capitol Hill have been highly critical that the administration did not choose to declare Abdulmutallab an enemy combatant. They feel authorities could have gotten far more intelligence from him.

FBI agents interviewed the attempted bomber after his arrest and reportedly got valuable intelligence. However, he clammed up after he was appointed public federal defenders.

Some who have defended the move to prosecute in civilian court have pointed out that the shoe bomber Richard Reid was taken to a civilian court as well.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

FBI Agents Obtained Phone Records Using “Startling” and Highly Questionable Methods, Inspector Gen. Report Finds

The upside of this is that the Inspector General for the Justice Department has reviewed this weighty matter and exposed it in a report. Also, the good news is that the FBI says it has stopped this shoddy practice, which also targeted reporters’ phones. In fact, the report says: “Some of the most troubling improper requests for telephone records occurred in media leak cases, where the FBI sought and acquired reporters’ telephone toll billing records.”

To read full report click here.

Read FBI Response click here.

Telephones

By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — FBI agents seeking telephone records demanded information from phone companies in a variety of “startling” and illicit methods, including e-mail and post-it notes, in an “egregious breakdown” of safeguards and oversight, the Justice Department’s inspector general reported Wednesday.

The long-awaited investigative report describes numerous lapses by FBI agents seeking material through more than 700 emergency letters to phone service providers between 2002 and 2006, many of which did not involve real urgency, officials said.

One FBI agent interviewed in connection with the probe said the process became so casual that “it [was] like having an ATM in your living room,” according to the report.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday, told lawmakers that the process had ended in 2006 and that officials were reviewing the report to determine whether any bureau employees should be disciplined for the lapses. Mueller pointed out that the phone records did not cover the content of calls but rather toll information.

For Full story

FBI issued a reponse that said:

The FBI ceased this practice in 2006 and was never involved in obtaining the content of telephone conversations.

“The OIG report finds no intentional attempts to obtain records that counterterrorism personnel knew they were not legally entitled to obtain,” said Michael P. Kortan, the FBI’s Assistant Director for Public Affairs. “No FBI employee obtained telephone records for reasons other than a legitimate investigative interest. FBI employees involved in this matter obtained the telephone records at issue to perform their critical mission to prevent a terrorist attack or otherwise to support a counterterrorism investigation.”

To read full statement click here.

Ex-FBI Agent Who Was Nominated to Head TSA Withdraws Name; Leadership in Limbo

Leadership in Limbo

Leadership in Limbo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The effort to nail down the top spot for the Transportation Security Administration has taken one giant step backwards at a time airport security is still a pressing concern among Americans.

Nominee Erroll Southers, a former FBI agent, said he  is withdrawing his name to lead the agency  because his nomination had become a lightning rod for politicos in  Washington, the Associated Press reported. The move puts the leadership of TSA in limbo at a critical time for the agency.

His nomination had become increasingly problematic.

First off, Republican Sen. Jim DeMint was blocking the final confirmation, saying he feared Southers would let TSA employees join a union.

And then there were questions about his actions some 20 years ago as an FBI agent when he was reprimanded for running background checks on his then-estranged wife’s boyfriend.

He initially told Senators that he had a member of the San Diego police department run a check. But a day after his nomination made it out of committee, he wrote to Senators and said he had actually run the checks himself twice, AP reported.

Pakistani Neuroscientist Accused of Opening Fire on American Soldiers and FBI Agents is Booted From NY Trial After Outburst

judge and gavelBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Could this be a preview of what’s to come when Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other 9/11 terror suspects go on trial in New York?

Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist accused of opening fire on American soldiers and F.B.I. agents while being detained in Afghanistan in July 2008, didn’t last very long on Tuesday at onset of her trial in U.S. District Court in New York, the New York Times reports.

The Times reports that she was escorted out of court after an outburst in which she yelled: “I was never planning to bomb it. You’re lying!”

During her 2008 confrontation in Afghanistan, she did not hit anyone, but someone fired back and wounded her. She has since recovered.

To read full story click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

FBI Sting Involving Foreign Bribery Nets 22 Arrests

File photo/istock

File photo/istock

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — About 150 FBI agents executed 14 search warrants around the country and in London and 22 executives and employees in the law enforcement and military products industry were arrested as part of a sting involving allegations of foreign bribery,authorities announced Tuesday.

Twenty one people were arrested in Las Vegas  yesterday while one was arrested in Miami, authorities said.

Read more »

Two Illinois Men Charged With Plotting to Kill Chicago Fed Prosecutor

ChicagoBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Two DuPage County men in Illinois have been busted for allegedly plotting to kill an assistant U.S. Attorney in Chicago, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Authorities charged Jack Mann, 41, of Naperville, Ill. and Frank Caira, 39, of Downers Grove, Ill.

The Trib reported that a defense lawyer for an ex-convict told the FBI that his client had been solicited by Mann to kill the prosecutor in a drug case in which  Caira was a defendant.

The ex-convict who was solicited had been convicted of murder and was a member of the Latin Kings, the paper reported.

To read more click here.

Looking for a New Political Scandal Involving an FBI Probe? Here We Go

Sen. John Ensign

Sen. John Ensign

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — With the ex-Sen. Ted Stevens and ex-Rep. William Jefferson cases over, Washington needs a new political scandal involving the FBI. So here we go.

Politico is reporting that FBI agents have started interviewing folks connected with Sen. John Ensign (R-Nevada) who was involved in a sex scandal. The publication says agents have talked to the senator’s  former aides in Washington and Nevada.

Politico, attributing information to sources, said that the FBI had begun a preliminary review and had yet to launch a full scale probe.

A controversy erupted last summer after Ensign revealed that he had an extramarital affair with former campaign aide Cynthia Hampton, who was married to his top Senate aide Doug Hampton.

Questions surfaced over Ensign’s failure to report a $96,000 gift from his parents as a severance payment to the Hamptons, Politico reported.

For Full Story

New Orleans Police Brass Appear Before Fed Grand Jury Probing Deadly Civil Rights Violations

new orleans police badge
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A major probe by the FBI and Justice Department into the New Orleans Police department’s behavior in the wake of Hurricane Katrina is continuing to show signs of life.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that Police Superintendent Warren Riley, his predecessor Eddie Compass and other top police brass testified Friday before a federal grand jury on the fourth floor of the federal courthouse.

Authorities are investigating allegations of civil rights violations that included deadly acts.

For full story click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST