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FBI

Atty. Gen. Holder Says Justice Dept. Won’t Go After Pot Dispensaries

Unlike the Bush administration, A.G. Eric Holder says the Justice Department won’t go after the places that dispense marijuana legally. It makes sense. There’s higher priorities like the Mexican drug wars, which are starting to wreak havoc on our nation.

marijuana-umledu1

By Josh Meyer and Scott Glover
Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON — U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. said Wednesday that the Justice Department has no plans to prosecute pot dispensaries that are operating legally under state laws in California and a dozen other states — a development that medical marijuana advocates and civil libertarians hailed as a sweeping change in federal drug policy.

In recent months, Obama administration officials have indicated that they planned to take a hands-off approach to such clinics, but Holder’s comments — made at a wide-ranging briefing with reporters — offered the most detailed explanation to date of the changing priorities toward the controversial prosecutions.

The Bush administration targeted medical marijuana distributors even in states that had passed laws allowing use of the drug for medical purposes by cancer patients, those dealing with chronic pain or other serious ailments. Holder said the priority of the new administration is to go after egregious offenders operating in violation of both federal and state law, such as those being used as fronts for drug dealers.

“Those are the organizations, the people, that we will target,” the attorney general said.

For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Ex-FBI Agent Convicted in Botched Calif. Home Invasion

calif-map

Wednesday was not a banner day for the FBI. First a N.Y. FBI agent was arrested for accessing confidential information and sharing it with an informant. And then this: an ex-FBI agent convicted in a botched home invasion.

By My-Thuan Tran
Los Angeles Times

A former FBI agent who meticulously planned to rob an Orange County residence that he thought was a drug house was convicted in federal court in Santa Ana on Wednesday on charges related to the botched home-invasion robbery.

The “stash house” robbery that lured Vo Duong Tran all the way from New Orleans and for which he was equipped with bulletproof vests, assault rifles and 630 rounds of ammunition was actually nothing more than pure invention by federal agents trying to snare their ex-colleague.

Tran, 41, had conspired with a supposed accomplice to commit armed robbery in Orange County and to develop a crew of criminal associates to commit violent crimes, jurors in the federal case found. The accomplice told him about the Fountain Valley drug house, said to contain $500,000 in cash.

In reality, the accomplice turned out to be an FBI informant who was secretly recording conversations with Tran as part of the sting operation. Prosecutors played the tapes during the four-week trial.

For Full Story

Islamic Group Threatens to Cut Ties to FBI

istock_000007698493xsmallBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON –– The sometimes bumpy ties between the FBI and the U.S. Muslim communities could get bumpier.

The American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT) , a coalition of major U.S. Muslim groups, announced Tuesday that it was considering suspending “outreach relations with the FBI” as a result of the FBI targeting American mosques and Muslim groups.

The move comes several months after the FBI cut off formal ties to the prominent group CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations),  citing its links to Hamas. CAIR is one of several organizations that make up AMT, according to the AMT website.

As part of its effort to patch up the riff, CAIR late last month held an open house dinner in Minneapolis at a local mosque and extended an invitation to FBI director Robert Mueller III, who did not attend.

In response to Tuesdays’ development, FBI spokesman John Miller issued a statement:
“Limiting honest dialogue, especially when complex issues are on the table, is generally not an effective advocacy strategy. The FBI has continued our outreach efforts, across the board, with a number of concerned groups and where we agree-or disagree – most have concluded the best results are achieved through continued conversation. We believe that to be true.”

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Bernie Ripoff’s Accountant Charged with Securities Fraud

Bernie Madoff

Bernie Madoff

Bernie Ripoff’s House of Cards is starting to tumble. It’s hard to believe his wife Ruth was a total innocent. And who knows who else was involved. Madoff is probably willing to dish if the feds cut him a break or at least let him out of jail until sentencing. Let’s see what happens.

By Thomas Zambito
New York Daily News
NEW YORK — David Friehling, a longtime accountant for Bernie Madoff, was charged with securities fraud and surrendered to the FBI.

The accountant for mega-thief Bernard Madoff surrendered Wednesday to the FBI on charges he dispensed years of phony audits and bogus filings as the Ponzi schemer looted thousands of clients.

David Friehling, a CPA with Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, acted as a “rubber stamp” on paperwork sent along by Madoff – and even invested with the crooked financier.

“Mr. Friehling’s deception helped foster the illusion that Mr. Madoff legitimately invested his clients’ money,” said acting U.S. Attorney Lev Dassin.

For Full Story

Breaking News: N.Y. FBI Agent Charged With Sharing Confidential Info

new-york-mapFor the second time in about four months, a New York FBI agent has been charged criminally. In December, FBI agent Mark Rossini was charged with illegally accessing FBI data bases for personal use.

By The Associated Press
NEW YORK — An FBI agent assigned to the New York office has been arrested on charges he shared confidential information with an informant.

William H. Shirk III is charged in a criminal complaint filed Wednesday in Manhattan federal court.

The complaint alleges the 37-year-old Shirk warned the informant he was being investigated for drug trafficking. The information was from a confidential FBI database.

Read More

Read Detailed Press Release

THE FBI IS TWEETING

twitter2By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON – When FBI agents recently tracked down suspected financial scammer  R. Allen Stanford in Richmond, Va., the press office at headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue quickly tweeted out a blurb on Twitter to notify the media.

“Actually, ” says FBI spokesman Richard Kolko, “the Wall Street Journal broke it two minutes before I did.”

Twitter. Tweeting. This is no longer J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI.

Twitter, once a mysterious, free, cutting edge Internet venue for the young, has gone main stream. Very main stream . Sorry kids. Maybe it’s time to find the next hip playground on the Internet.

The social network with the silly name is slowly generating interest in law enforcement circles like the FBI , which opened a Twitter account about two months ago under the name FBIPressOffice. The office said it is also exploring the use of other social networks.

Kolko said the agency is “still getting use to it”, but it’s already sent out more than 415 tweets including press releases with links , notices of missing children or wanted fugitives and breaking news.

A recent press release read: “Iranian Man, company charged with scheme to supply sensitive technology to Iran”. The same day the office put out a notice about a child molester wanted since 2003: “The FBI is still looking for GRANT LAVELLE HUDSON, III.”

So far more than 1,141 people have signed up as “followers”, many of them in law enforcement and the media.
“It goes up every day,” Kolko said.

Twitter, founded in 2006 in San Francisco, allows users to send out text- based “tweets” that are 140 characters or less to people who have signed up to the sender’s account. The social network continues to grow in popularity, but it still ranks behind Facebook, which is number one worldwide, and MySpace, which is number two, according to Compete.com.

But Twitter is gaining traction in federal law enforcement circles including at the Transportation Security Administration, said Chris Battle, managing partner of the Adfero Group Homeland Security Practice, a Washington public relations firm. Battle has written about social communication networks on his company blog Security DeBrief.

“I think it’s an important audience,” said Battle, a former official at Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the DEA. “Whether it’s Twitter or Facebook or a specialty niche site like PoliceLink.com , you have a dedicated network of people who care about an issue. When you care about targeting an audience, it doesn’t get any more targeted than this.”

Still, some agencies have been slow to come around, particularly ones that were already a little reluctant to communicate with the public in the more traditional ways, let alone with these cutting-edge communication tools, Battle said.

“Within law enforcement we have quite a ways to go,” he said. ” There’s a bit of a learning curve. Some of the law enforcement agencies and national security organizations need to catch up with the social media.”

Kolko said the biggest benefit of the social network will be when there’s a major breaking story or big crisis and the media blitzes the FBI press office with calls.
“It will have a great application in the event of a crisis,” Kolko said. ” If some major crisis happens, the phones ring off the hook and every reporter is asking the same exact questions. It can take 30 seconds to send the information on Twitter that we’re going to be giving those people.”

Besides press releases and breaking news blurbs, Kolko says he likes to put up information about child molesters and other wanted fugitives.

“It reminds people that we’re still looking,” he said.

Twitter doesn’t appear to be the last stop.

Kolko said the FBI is exploring other venues.
“We’re looking at Facebook and Youtube,” he said. ” Hopefully that’s in the near future.”

CIA Officer Accused of Rape Claimed to be an FBI Agent At One Point

cia

This guy sounded like big big trouble. Who knows what he got away with when he was overseas.

By Jeff Stein
Spy Talk
WASHINGTON — Andrew Warren, the former CIA officer accused of date rape in Algiers late last year, caused such a ruckus over parking dispute at a Washington, D.C. hotel three years earlier that the matter was referred to the FBI.

Multiple sources said Warren flashed official credentials and claimed to be an FBI agent during the dispute, which took place in late 2004 or early 2005 when he was escorting Egyptian intelligence officials on an official visit to the CIA.

Warren was a senior CIA operative in Egypt at the time, said the sources, which include two senior former spy agency experts on the region, who demanded anonymity in exchange for discussing the matter.

For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

FBI Agents Give Up Digging For Mob Victims on Long Island

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

After getting lucky last year and digging up the body of a mobster in East Farmingdale on Long Island, the FBI recently returned with excavation equipment to try its luck again.

Apparently luck wasn’t on the agents’ side this time.

After three days of digging this past week, the FBI mid-week gave up on trying to recover the bodies of two men believed to be victims of mob hits.

Newsday reported that the digging was the result of an informant’s tip that the area was used by the Colombo crime family in the 1990s as a mob cemetery. The paper reported that the informant said  three bodies were buried in the area.

FBI spokesman James Margolin told the paper that because one of the three bodies was recovered in October in the area: “We believe that the information was accurate.”

Margolin said it was unclear if digging would resume.