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FBI

Women Filling Some Top Fed Law Enforcement Posts in Balt-Washington Region

Baltimore ATF's Theresa Stoop

Baltimore ATF's Theresa Stoop

Federal law enforcement has come a long way. Here’s some  proof.

By Tricia Bishop
Baltimore Sun
BALTIMORE — When Ava Cooper-Davis took over the Washington division of the Drug Enforcement Administration in March, she became the fourth woman in the region to head a federal law enforcement agency’s field office, alongside the “special agents in charge” at the FBI, ATF and the Secret Service.

While most of the SACs, as they’re known, said it was simply happenstance that the best people qualified for the jobs happen to be female, others see significance in the coincidence. Or, at the very least, they think it’s “cool.”

“It’s a sign of the times, I guess. It certainly is indicative of the fact that we have more women coming out of law school becoming lawyers and more women interested in the broader field of law enforcement,” said Melody Drnach, a vice president with the National Organization for Women. She oversees the group’s grass-roots efforts.

“Roles are changing for women in a positive way,” Drnach said. “We certainly hope that other field offices will take note and try to catch up with the standard set by Maryland.” The Washington division is also responsible for Maryland.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Feds Win Pre-trial Victory in Bribery Case of Ex-Rep. William Jefferson

Rep. Jefferson/official photo

Rep. Jefferson/official photo

The defense has been continually trying to show that the government charges and evidence have fallen far short.  The judge in the case has ruled to the contrary. Still, in cases like this, there’s never any guarantees of an ultimate victory. Whatever the case, trial starts next week in Alexandria, Va. It’s about time.  It’s been almost four years since the FBI raided Jefferson’s homes in New Orleans and Washington and found the infamous $90,000 in his freezer.

By Bruce Alpert
The Times-Picayune
WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors will not be required as part of their bribery case against former Rep. William Jefferson, D-New Orleans, to prove he sought payments in return for decisions he made as a member of Congress, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Judge T.S. Ellis III said “it is sufficient for the government to adduce proof, including expert testimony or evidence of defendant’s admissions and conduct, that it was customary … for members of Congress in defendant’s position to exert influence — by advice, recommendation or otherwise, on the issues in question.”

Ellis’ ruling came one week before Jefferson is scheduled face trial in Alexandria, Va., on 16 charges including bribery, racketeering, and honest services fraud.

For Full Story

FBI Tape: Sen. Roland Burris Promises Gov. Blagojevich’s Brother “I Will Personally Do Something Ok?”

The FBI tape raises more questions about the appointment of Sen. Roland Burris. The big question will be whether Burris can survive all this and remain in the Senate. It only seems to get uglier.

Sen. Roland Burris/official photo

Sen. Roland Burris/official photo

BY NATASHA KORECKI
Chicago Sun-Times
CHICAGO — In a Nov. 13 conversation recorded by the FBI, Roland Burris told Rod Blagojevich’s brother he feared he’d “catch hell,” with the public if he gave the governor money at the same time he was lobbying for a Senate seat appointment.

Still, Burris ends the call with a promise: “I will personally do something OK? And it will come to you before the 15th of December.”

Such a promise of money is something Burris did not disclose to an Illinois House impeachment panel in sworn testimony after Rod Blagojevich appointed him to the U.S. Senate.

The revelation comes as a transcript of a conversation between Burris and Robert Blagojevich were unsealed by Chief U.S. District Judge James Holderman today, at the request of a U.S. Senate ethics panel investigating Burris.

Burris, a Chicago Democrat who Rod Blagojevich appointed to the Senate seat Dec. 30, can be heard repeatedly expressing worry that a donation to the governor would look like he’s trying to buy the seat. Burris tells Robert Blagojevich: “I’m in a dilemma right now, wanting to help the governor.”

For Full Story
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Al-Qaeda Supporter Pleads Guilty After 5 Years of Legal Wrangling

st-paul-mapIt took five years of hard work  by Justice Dept. attorneys, but it has paid off with a guilty plea from an al-Qaeda collaborator. Sentencing is set for July 9th, where he could get over 12 years  for working with terrorists.

By Elizabeth Stawicki
Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL,  Minn. — A former Minneapolis man who’s been imprisoned for more than five years awaiting trial on terrorism charges has struck a plea deal with the U.S. government.

Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to provide support to a terrorist organization. In exchange, the government will drop four other charges that include providing support to a terrorist organization and lying to the FBI.

Warsame, a Canadian citizen of Somali descent, lived in Minneapolis as a community college student before he was arrested in 2003. The government later charged him with providing support to al-Qaeda, alleging he took part in military camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan; attended lectures by Osama Bin Laden; taught English to al-Qaeda operatives, and lied to the FBI.

Warsame’s lawyers say he’s spent more time in prison awaiting trial longer than anyone else in U.S. history — five and half years, primarily in solitary confinement. Warsame had maintained that he never knowingly attended an al Qaeda training camp but was on a spiritual journey seeking a “utopian” society in Afghanistan.

For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Threats Against Nation’s Judges and Prosecutors Rise Sharply

U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow's Husband and Mother Were Murdered
U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow’s Husband and Mother Were Murdered

This is a dangerous trend. We’ve seen in nations like Mexico and Colombia where threats to the justice system have undermine democracy,  justice and order. The problem isn’t nearly as bad in the U.S. , but it’s still a big problem.

By Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writer

Threats against the nation’s judges and prosecutors have sharply increased, prompting hundreds to get 24-hour protection from armed U.S. marshals.

Many federal judges are altering their routes to work, installing security systems at home, shielding their addresses by paying bills at the courthouse or refraining from registering to vote. Some even pack weapons on the bench.

The problem has become so pronounced that a high-tech “threat management” center recently opened in Crystal City, where a staff of about 25 marshals and analysts monitor a 24-hour number for reporting threats, use sophisticated mapping software to track those being threatened and tap into a classified database linked to the FBI and CIA.

“I live with a constant heightened sense of awareness,” said John R. Adams, a federal judge in Ohio who began taking firearms classes after a federal judge’s family was slain in Chicago and takes a pistol to the courthouse on weekends. “If I’m going to carry a firearm, I’d better know how to use it.”

For Full Story

FBI Stings-Informants Don’t Always Make For Good Domestic Terrorism Cases

Stings Not Always Fruitful
Stings Not Always Fruitful

Sting operations and anonymous informants are invaluable tools in the FBI’s major domestic terrorist operations. But it turns out sometimes these tools aren’t enough to make a case — or at least a legit one.

By Deborah Hastings
Associated Press
NEW YORK — It usually starts with a snitch and a sting operation, followed by a great deal of publicity and controversy.

Case in point: Four Muslim men charged last week with plotting to blow up synagogues and military planes. The informant is a convicted felon and Pakistani immigrant who turned informant seven years ago to avoid deportation. This wasn’t his first foray into undercover work for federal authorities.

With considerable fanfare, a steady stream of terrorism busts has been announced by the FBI since Sept. 11, 2001. And in most cases, accusations soon followed that the stings were overblown operations that entrapped hapless ne’er-do-wells. Federal authorities say such arrests save lives.

But what happens to these cases after the media spotlight fades and the noise dies down? And are the snitches involved reliable?

“Most of these guys don’t get tried,” said security analyst Bruce Schneier. “These are not criminal masterminds, they’re idiots. There’s huge fanfares at the arrest, and then it dies off.”

To Read More

Two Ex-N.Y. Times Journalists Said They Had Watergate Scandal Tip First; Former FBI Dir. Patrick Gray Cited as Source

L. Patrick Gray/fbi photo

L. Patrick Gray/fbi photo

It’s interesting to see that decades later we’re still learning about FBI leaks in the Watergate case, a story that gave journalism new direction and ushered in an era of great investigative reporting.

By RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA
New York Times

The Watergate break-in eventually forced a presidential resignation and turned two Washington Post reporters into pop-culture heroes.

But almost 37 years after the break-in, two former New York Times journalists have stepped forward to say that The Times had the scandal nearly in its grasp before The Post did – and let it slip.

Robert M. Smith, a former Times reporter, says that two months after the burglary, over lunch at a Washington restaurant, the acting director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, L. Patrick Gray, disclosed explosive aspects of the case, including the culpability of the former attorney general, John Mitchell, and hinted at White House involvement.

Mr. Smith rushed back to The Times’s bureau in Washington to repeat the story to Robert H. Phelps, an editor there, who took notes and tape-recorded the conversation, according to both men. But then Mr. Smith had to hand off the story – he had quit The Times and was leaving town the next day to attend Yale Law School.

Mr. Smith kept the events to himself for more than three decades, but decided to go public after learning that Mr. Phelps planned to include it in his memoir.

For Full Story

FBI Role To Expand in Fighting Global Terrorism While Focusing More on Prosecutions

fbi1This approach seems fairer. Of course, Dick Cheney may not approve.

By Josh Meyer
Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON — The FBI and Justice Department are gearing up to significantly expand their role in global counterterrorism operations as part of a sharp U.S. policy turnabout, in which a system based primarily on clandestine detentions and interrogations will be replaced by one emphasizing transparent investigations and prosecutions of terrorism suspects.

The effort, which has not been disclosed publicly, includes an initiative dubbed “Global Justice.” FBI agents would participate more centrally in overseas counterterrorism cases, questioning suspects and gathering evidence to ensure that criminal prosecutions are an option wherever possible, according to U.S. counterterrorism officials.

The initiative has been quietly in the works for several months, and many details have not been finalized. But some senior counterterrorism officials and Obama administration policymakers envision it as a centerpiece of the much broader national security framework laid out by the president on Thursday that emphasizes the rule of law, or the principle that even accused terrorists have the right to contest the charges against them in some kind of criminal justice setting.

For Full Story