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FBI

New York Reacts To Reports al Qaeda Considered Attacking Mass Transit

It’s been a while since we’ve heard about these threats. Is this one worthy?

By JAMES GORDON MEEK in Washington and ALISON GENDAR and LARRY McSHANE in New York
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS

The city subway system received an infusion of additional police protection Wednesday after reports that Al Qaeda terrorists had considered targeting local mass transit with suicide bombers.
The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued a joint warning to state and local officials on Tuesday night about the terrorist threat, said DHS spokeswoman Laura Keehner.
The warning followed “plausible but uncorroborated information that Al Qaeda may have discussed targeting the transit system in or around New York City,” Keehner said.
NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said police were aware of the terrorist threat, and responded by sending additional cops throughout the subway system.
For Full Story

Release of FBI Anthrax Documents Show Wrong Suspect Took Cipro Around the Time Fatal Letters Were Mailed

There was a time during the anthrax probe that the head of the FBI investigation advocated indicting scientist Steven Hatfill. One of the things that bothered some investigators was that Hatfill was taking Cipro at the time of the letter attacks. But the U.S. Attorney’s office shot down any suggestions of an indictment.

By LARA JAKES JORDAN

Steven Hatfill/fox news

Steven Hatfill/fox news

The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Pharmacy records and writings initially _ but wrongly _ helped lead the FBI to Army scientist Steven Hatfill in the 2001 anthrax attacks, Justice Department documents released Tuesday show.
Responding to a judge’s order, the government released 78 pages of affidavits and search warrants in the now-closed case of Hatfill, who was cleared of the attacks earlier this year. The documents raise questions about Hatfill but provide no evidence that he masterminded the biological attacks that killed five people, sickened 17 and frightened a nation still shaken by the deaths of 9/11 only a few weeks earlier.

Ultimately, the government focused on another Army scientist: Bruce Ivins, who killed himself in July as prosecutors prepared to charge him in the case. Both Ivins and Hatfill worked at the Army’s infectious diseases laboratory in Frederick, Md. Hatfill was never charged, and the Justice Department in June agreed to pay him $5.8 million to settle a lawsuit he brought against the government for wrongly implicating him.

For Full Story

See FBI Documents

Slain FBI Agent Put to Rest in Baltimore: FBI Dir. Speaks at Funeral

FBI agent Sam Hicks was put to rest Thursday, a reminder to the law enforcement community of the dangers of the job.

The Associated Press
BALTIMORE — FBI agents and police officers joined family members today for the funeral of an FBI agent killed in a drug raid in suburban Pittsburgh.
The funeral for Special Agent Sam Hicks was held at the Cathedral of Mary our Queen in Baltimore, the city where he once served as a police officer.
The only speakers were FBI director Robert Mueller and U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey.
Mr. Mueller said he didn’t know Agent Hicks but was able to catch a glimpse of his character by talking to his family and colleagues. He called Hicks “something of a superhero,” saying he was “full of strength and energy.” Mr. Mueller presented Agent Hicks’ widow with a memorial star and told her that she and her son, Noah, would always be part of the FBI family.
For Full Story

Read Mueller’s Prepared Remarks

Fla. Senator Wants Answers About Missing Ex-FBI Agent in Iran

By Lesley Clark
The Miami Herald
WASHINGTON — Florida Sen. Bill Nelson is calling on Congress to press Iran to divulge more information about Robert Levinson, a retired FBI agent who went missing in 2007 from a Persian Gulf island.
The congressional resolution calls for Iranian investigators to meet with the FBI to discuss Levinson’s case, as well as calling on the U.S. government and its allies ”to press Iran on this case, at every opportunity and at every level,” Nelson said.
”No one should ever have to experience what they have been through,” Nelson said of Levinson’s wife, Christine, and his seven children.
“It is no doubt the wish of everyone who knows the family that Mr. Levinson be reunited with his loved ones and it has been very difficult to get information out of the government of Iran.”
For Full Story

State Department Press Conference On the Case

Pardon ME or ME or ME?

By Dafna Linzer
Credit: ProPublica
Credit: ProPublica

Attention, convicts: Time is running out to get applications into the pardon attorney at the Justice Department if you’re hoping that President Bush will be your decider. Few of you should get your hopes up — Bush has rejected a record number of requests for pardons and commutations. In the last eight years, he has pardoned 157 people — a miserly sum compared to his predecessors. But you don’t have to give up entirely: More are expected in the coming months, most notably for Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

Before President Clinton went on a pardon spree for wealthy friends and campaign contributors at the end of his presidency, pardons and commutations were traditionally bestowed on average citizens who had successfully reformed their lives and given back to their communities after completing lengthy sentences. Pardon experts believe that of the Bush prospects, the 1980s junk-bond king Michael Milken best fits the rich-and-famous description.

Most of the other top prospects for pardon listed below have, like Milken, been convicted and served prison time. But not all. People who are merely charged could be eligible for pardons, as Bush’s father demonstrated when he pardoned former Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger. And Washington is abuzz with the prospect that Bush might issue pre-emptive pardons for government employees who could face trouble in the future stemming from their roles in his “war on terror.”

We’ve rated potential pardonees’ chances from zero to four “Get of Jail Free” cards.

Sports

Marion Jones

(Hiroko Masuike /Getty Images)
(Hiroko Masuike /Getty Images)

The disgraced Olympic gold medalist returned five awards after she was sentenced to six months in jail in January for lying to federal agents about using steroids. She was released on Sept. 5. Jones’ offense is considered mild, and her sentence was brief, but the president may not want to reward someone who cost the United States Olympic Gold.

Likelihood: Unlikely

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Michael Vick

(Win McNamee /Getty Images)
(Win McNamee /Getty Images)

The Atlanta Falcons’ suspended quarterback is serving a 23-month sentence in Leavenworth, Kan., for criminal conspiracy relating to dog fighting. Yuck. There just isn’t much of a pro dog-fighting lobby to pull for Vick.

Likelihood: No chance.

Barry Bonds

(David Paul Morris /Getty Images)
(David Paul Morris /Getty Images)

The former San Francisco Giants superstar who holds the MLB all-time record for home runs was indicted in November 2007 for lying about his involvement in a steroids scandal. Bonds became a free agent last year but has been unable to find a team willing to sign him while under indictment. As a former baseball team owner, Bush may be sympathetic to Bonds. But let’s be honest — who in baseball likes Barry?

Likelihood: Unlikely

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Texas

Florita Bell Griffin

(John Anderson /The Austin Chronicle)
(John Anderson /The Austin Chronicle)

As governor, Bush appointed Griffin to the oversight board of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. In 2000, she was convicted of bribery, theft and money laundering. In 2003, a federal appeals court overturned a separate conviction for mail fraud. Griffin has two things going for her: Bush and Texas. Bush has pardoned more of his fellow Texans than residents of any other state.

Likelihood: Possible

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Texas Border Patrol Guards

(U.S. House)
(U.S. House)

Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, pictured with his wife, are serving sentences of 11 and 12 years, respectively, for the nonfatal shooting in the back of an unarmed Mexican drug runner in February 2005. A jury found the two border patrolmen then tried to cover up the shooting. Their requests for a pardon have won support from numerous Republican congressmen including Rep. Duncan Hunter of California, who introduced the Congressional Pardon for Border Patrol Agents Ramos and Compean Act. Bush left open the possibility of a pardon for both men during an interview with a Texas TV station.

Likelihood: Good Chance

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Team Bush

Scooter Libby

(Chip Somodevilla /Getty Images)
(Chip Somodevilla /Getty Images)

Cheney’s former chief of staff, who also served as assistant to the president, was convicted of perjury and obstructing the FBI’s investigation of the leak of former CIA officer Valerie Plame’s identity. In June of 2007 he was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison and ordered to pay a hefty fine. Bush commuted the prison time, but only a pardon will allow Libby to practice law again.

Likelihood: You Betcha!

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James Tobin

(Jim Cole/AP Photo)
(Jim Cole/AP Photo)

Tobin was Bush’s 2004 New England campaign chairman and raised more than $200,000 for the president’s re-election bid. He was indicted in October for making false statements to the FBI in connection with the bureau’s investigation of the plot to jam Democratic Party phones in New Hampshire in 2002. Tobin was convicted in 2005 for his actual role in that scheme, but that conviction was overturned on appeal in 2007. His fundraising prowess and the overturning of his earlier conviction — in connection with the same case — make him a good pardon candidate.

Likelihood: Good Chance

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Tom Noe

(Jeremy Wadsworth /AFP/Getty Images)
(Jeremy Wadsworth /AFP/Getty Images)

Noe was a prominent Ohio Republican fundraiser for Bush-Cheney ’04. He was sentenced to 27 months in a federal prison for illegally funneling money to the campaign. Two months later, he was also found guilty of theft, money laundering, forgery and corrupt activity related to Ohio’s rare-coin investment scandal. Noe may have had a shot if his only offense were connected to campaign funding. But his Ohio crime was one of a number of nasty Republican scandals that badly damaged the party’s standing in the 2006 midterm election.

Likelihood: Unlikely

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Congressman

Sen. Ted Stevens

(Alex Wong/Getty Images)
(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Now that the 85-year-old Alaska Republican, who was found guilty last month of corruption, has lost re-election, members of his party might push for a pardon for him — after all, he spent the last 40 years in the Senate. Stevens seemed to dismiss the need for a pardon while the votes were being counted; late Tuesday, he was tight-lipped about the whether he would ask Bush for clemency.

Likelihood: Possible

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Bob Ney

(Lauren Victoria Burke/wdcpix.com)
(Lauren Victoria Burke/wdcpix.com)

The former Republican congressman from Ohio was sentenced to two and a half years in prison after he acknowledged taking bribes from convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Ney was on the Abramoff-sponsored golfing trip to Scotland at the heart of the case against David Safavian, the former White House procurement officer who was also caught up in the scandal. A pardon of Ney could refocus public attention on cushy relationships between Republicans and lobbyists over the last eight years — relationships that a humbled GOP would rather forget.

Likelihood: No Chance

Randy Cunningham

(Lenny Ignelzi/AP Photo, File)
(Lenny Ignelzi/AP Photo, File)

The former Republican congressman from California pleaded guilty in 2005 to federal conspiracy charges to commit bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud and tax evasion. He was sentenced to eight years and four months in prison and ordered to pay $1.8 million in restitution for all the fancy gifts he racked up from lobbyists. “The Duke” has a pardon attorney, and a number of people have written to the Justice Department in support of clemency. But Cunningham’s naked abuse of power tainted Republican rule and contributed to steep party losses in 2006.

Likelihood: No Chance

Brent Wilkes

(Lenny Ignelzi/AP Photo)
(Lenny Ignelzi/AP Photo)

Wilkes, a defense contractor, was sentenced to 12 years in prison in February for furnishing Cunningham with yachts, vacations and other luxury items in exchange for lucrative contracts. Wilkes cooperated with federal investigators in the Cunningham case, and that could help him win a pardon.

Likelihood: Possible

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Kyle “Dusty” Foggo

(Denis Poroy/AP Photo)
(Denis Poroy/AP Photo)

Foggo was Wilkes’ childhood friend before he rose to become executive director of the CIA, the No. 3 position in the U.S. spy agency. He was indicted in 2007 on several counts of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering in connection with Wilkes and admitted to steering a lucrative CIA contract to his pal. Foggo remains under investigation by the CIA and other federal agencies. But his cooperation with investigators and years of service in the clandestine agency once run by Bush’s father could make him a good candidate for clemency.

Likelihood: Possible

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Team Abramoff

Jack Abramoff

(Gerald Herbert/AP Photo)
(Gerald Herbert/AP Photo)

The former Hollywood producer-turned-Republican lobbyist was at the center of the largest lobbying scandal in Washington, which erupted in 2005. Abramoff was convicted of fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials. The sentence was reduced in September to four years in recognition of Abramoff’s cooperation with investigators. That’s all the break he’ll get. Abramoff was such a disaster for Bush and the GOP that the White House refused to release any photos in which the president and Abramoff appeared in the same room at the same time.

Likelihood: No Chance

J. Steven Griles

(Lauren Victoria Burke/AP Photo)
(Lauren Victoria Burke/AP Photo)

Griles served as Deputy Secretary of the Interior during Bush’s first term. In March 2007, he pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice charges in connection with his 2005 Senate testimony regarding the Abramoff scandal. Griles was sentenced to 10 months in prison and fined $30,000. He was released this year. Griles’ time served, combined with his senior position in the administration, make him a good candidate for a pardon.

Likelihood: Possible

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David Safavian

(Chip Somodevilla /Getty Images)
(Chip Somodevilla /Getty Images)

The senior White House procurement officer in the Office of Management and Budget was convicted in 2006 for concealment, making false statements and obstructing justice in the Abramoff investigation. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison, but the conviction was overturned in June. A retrial is set for December.

Likelihood: Unlikely

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White Collar

Michael Milken

(Wikimedia Commons)
(Wikimedia Commons)

The junk-bond king became the symbol of the ’80s greed on Wall Street that led to insider-trading scandals and a stock-market crash. Milken was sentenced to eight years for conspiracy and fraud charges and ordered to pay $200 million in fines. But he was released in January 1993, after less than two years in prison. Milken, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer that year, has since devoted significant resources to philanthropy and created several foundations to support cancer research. Milken, who is believed to be worth more than $1 billion, tried unsuccessfully to secure a pardon from President Clinton. He is currently represented by Washington powerhouse attorney Ted Olsen, Bush’s longtime friend and first-term solicitor general. Olsen also represented Armand Hammer, who received a pardon from former President George H.W. Bush.

Likelihood: Excellent Chance

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The Smartest Guys in the Room

(Dave Einsel, Johnny Hanson /Getty Images)
(Dave Einsel, Johnny Hanson /Getty Images)

Former Enron executives Jeffrey Skilling, right, and Andrew Fastow, left, were convicted of multiple federal felonies in 2006 in connection to Enron’s downfall. Skilling, who was Enron’s CEO, is serving a 24-year-prison sentence at a federal penitentiary in Minnesota. Fastow, the corporate CFO, is nearing the end of his six-year sentence. Bush was friends with the now-deceased chairman, Kenneth Lay of Enron, which, of course was based in Texas. But the president managed to distance himself from the company’s extraordinary collapse. A point against pardons for these guys: Considering the current financial crisis, rewarding Enron’s failed leadership might not be smart.

Likelihood: Possible

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Martha Stewart

(Don Emmert/AFP /Getty Images)
(Don Emmert/AFP /Getty Images)

Millions of glue-gun aficionados would love to see a pardon for the domestic doyenne who was convicted in 2004 of lying to investigators about a stock sale and served five months in a women’s correctional facility. Thousands of people have even signed a petition seeking a pardon for Martha. It’s hard to see what would be in it for Bush. But Martha’s spectacular book sales and daytime-TV ratings are testament to millions of other Americans’ ability to forgive. Why not the president, too? (The question, of course, that all pardon applicants ask.)

Likelihood: Why Not?

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Printed with permission of ProPublica, an independent, non-profit newsroom.

FBI Dedicates Its New State of The Art Northern Va. Office

Several prominent officials cut the ribbon include Rep. Frank Wolf and Joseph Persichini Jr., head of the Washington field office

Several prominent officials cut the ribbon including Rep. Frank Wolf and Joseph Persichini Jr., head of the FBI's Washington field office/photo by ticklethewire.com

MANASSAS, Va. — Several months after moving in, the FBI’s Washington field office officially dedicated its 200,000 -square foot, state of the art Northern Viriginia office Friday with the usual ribbon cutting, speeches and food.
The luminaries in attendance included Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) and Joseph Persichini Jr., the head of the FBI Washington field office.
When the location was first announced, some agents privately complained that the office was too far out. But officials defended the move, saying they needed a location with a greater setback from the street in the Post 9/11 era. The previous Northern Virginia office was in  congested Tysons Corner.
Allan Lengel, ticklethewire.com

Slain Pittsburgh FBI Agent “Loved, Loved , Loved His Work”

Samuel Hicks is a chilling reminder of the dangers that await a federal agent.
By Michael A. Fuoco
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
PITTSBURGH — FBI Agent Samuel Hicks with his wife, Brooke, and their 2-year old son, Noah.
Special Agent Samuel Hicks’ classmates at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., used to follow his lead when training how to safely enter homes and serve warrants, trusting the Westmoreland County native’s discipline, intelligence and experience as a Baltimore police narcotics officer.
“He was our ace in the hole in leading us,” said his former roommate, Special Agent Klaus Franze.
On Wednesday, Agent Hicks was leading again, this time as the first officer to enter an Indiana Township home to serve an arrest warrant on a suspected drug dealer. A shot was fired from upstairs. Agent Hicks was killed.
For Full Story

Was Shooter Protecting Her Children? (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

NYPD Officer Indicted For Illegally Accessing FBI Computer System

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
A New York City police sergeant was charged with accessing without authoritization an FBI computer to assist someone in a child custody proceeding, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.
Sgt. Haytham Khalis, 34, of Brooklyn, surrendered to federal authorities Thursday morning.
According to federal court documents, the Royal Canadian Mounted police told the FBI legal attache in Ottawa that it had come across a Canadian citizen who had a document containing information from the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC).
The Canadian authorities traced the document to an NYPD officer, authorities said. The police department then narrowed it down to Khalis.