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November 2022


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News Story

Massive Explosion that Killed 2 in Indianapolis May Have Been Caused by Furnace

Steve Neavling 

A massive explosion in Indianapolis that killed two people and forced the evacuation of 200 others may have been caused by a faulty furnace, said the ex-husband of the woman whose house was at the center of the blast, the Indianapolis Star reports.

Local police said the cause of the fire won’t be known immediately because of the size of the blast.

Local, state and federal authorities continue to treat the explosion like a crime scene, the Star reported. The Star wrote that John Shirley, ex-husband of Monserrate Shirley, received a text from his daughter a little more than a week ago about a broken furnace at the house. “I bet you anything that’s why it happened,” he told the Star. Authorities believe natural gas played a role in the explosion.

David Petraeus Investigation Expands to Top US Commander in Afganistan

Steve Neavling

The ever-evolving investigation into CIA Director David Petraeus’ extramarital affair has expanded to the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, who is accused of inappropriate communication with the woman at the center of the scandal, Reuters reports.

The FBI uncovered up to 30,000 pages of communication, mostly e-mails, between Allen and Jill Kelley, who is a family friend of Petraeus and the impetus of the investigation.

The nature of the communication is unclear.

Asked whether it included classified information, a senior U.S. Defense official would only say, “”We are concerned about inappropriate communications. We are not going to speculate as to what is contained in these documents.”

The Defense Department’s Inspector General is investigating.

Anti-Terrorism Expert Advises Against Technology Upgrade to Detect Biological Attacks

Steve Neavling

 A top anti-terrorism for Homeland Security advised the agency to ditch a $3.1 billion upgrade of the nation’s system for detecting biological attacks because it would be unreliable, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Dr. Tara O’Toole, the agency’s undersecretary for science and technology, privately told Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano that the new version of BioWatch – called Generation 3 – can’t be trusted to detect anthrax, smallpox, plague or other germs in a biological attack, the Times reported, citing scientists familiar with the issue.

O’Toole also said the money would be better spent on accelerating the distribution of medicine after an attack by establishing computer technology between hospitals, large HMOs and public health agencies.

“Her position is, ‘Kill it,'” said a federal scientist familiar with O’Toole’s discussions about Generation 3.

Napolitano has taken no public position on the issue.

U.S. Customs Officers Help Deliver Baby at Texas-Mexico Border

Steve Neavling

Two U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers helped deliver a baby girl at a South Texas border, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.

The mother, a 19-year-old U.S. citizen, was a passenger in a car Saturday at a bridge between Brownsville, Tex.  and Matamoros, Mexico when the driver alerted the U.S. Customs and Border Protection that a baby was on its way.

With no time to wait for medical help, officers Jaime Padron and Marvin Prazelini helped deliver the baby, the Star-Telegram reported.

The agency said the mother and newborn are healthy.


Patraeus Email Scandal Grows Richer: FBI Agent Sent Shirtless Photo to Woman Who Complained

By Allan Lengel

Now this is starting to sound like a full-blown, made for the big-screen Washington scandal.

Reporters Devlin Barrett, Evan Perez and Siobhan Gorman of the Wall Street Journal report that the FBI agent who started the probe into Patraeus scandal, was a friend of Jill Kelley, the Tampa woman who received harassing, anonymous emails, and sent her a shirtless photo of himself before the whole probe began.

The Journal reported:

 However, supervisors soon became concerned that the initial agent might have grown obsessed with the matter, and prohibited him from any role in the investigation, according to the officials.

One official said the agent in question sent shirtless photos to Ms. Kelley well before the email investigation began, and FBI officials only became aware of them some time later. Eventually, supervisors told the agent he was to have nothing to do with the case, though he never had a formal role in the investigation, the official said.

To read the full story click here.

Column: Ex-Fed Prosecutor Says Prosecutors in Petraeus Case Exercised “Sound Discretion”

Steve Levin, a criminal defense attorney, spent ten years as a federal prosecutor in North Carolina and Maryland. He served on active duty in the United States Army as a defense counsel, an appellate attorney, and a trial attorney, and is now a military judge in the Army Reserve. His firm, Levin & Curlett, has offices  in Baltimore and Washington.  This column  first appeared on his blog Fraud with Peril.

Steve Levin

By Steve Levin

In 2004, the then-US Attorney for the District of Maryland famously wrote in a leaked email that he wanted three front-page indictments by November of that year. Though open to interpretation, the impression left by the poorly-drafted missive is that prosecutors should seek headlines rather than justice.

Let’s give credit to the prosecutors involved in the Petraeus/ Broadwell affair, er, matter for their exercise of sound discretion.

Assuming the accuracy of the news reports, Paula Broadwell potentially subjected herself to indictment for any number of federal crimes. In his paper entitled Computer and Internet Crime, G. Patrick Black, a federal defender in Texas, analyzes a number of cyberstalking statutes. As Black writes:

Under 18 U.S.C. 875(c), it is a federal crime to transmit any communication in interstate or foreign commerce containing a threat to injure the person of another. Section 875(c) applies to any communication actually transmitted in interstate or foreign commerce – thus it includes threats transmitted in interstate or foreign commerce via the telephone, e-mail, beepers, or the Internet. Title 18 U.S.C. 875 is not an all-purpose anti-cyberstalking statute.

First, it applies only to communications of actual threats. Thus, it would not apply in a situation where a cyberstalker engaged in a pattern of conduct intended to harass or annoy another (absent some threat). Also, it is not clear that it would apply to situations where a person harasses or terrorizes another by posting messages on a bulletin board or in a chat room encouraging others to harass or annoy another person.

Read more »

Column: Ex-FBI Official Skeptical of Media and Whether Patraeus Probe Will Remain Bi-Partisan

Anthony Riggio is a former lawyer who went on to work for the FBI for 24 years. He held a number of posts during that time including assistant special agent in charge of the Detroit office. He retired in 1995 as a senior executive at FBI headquarters. His column is in response to a newsletter that said: “It will be interesting to see how much legs this Gen. Patraeus scandal has. Hopefully, it will remain a bi-partisan concern. If not, it will just turn into another ugly partisan-bashing fest inside the Beltway, something the country doesn’t need.” 

Tony Riggio

By Anthony Riggio
I am afraid that if the media doesn’t keep it alive it may never develop “legs”.
Based on past performance, vis a vie this president, I have little faith in our media. This, in my humble opinion is perhaps bigger than Watergate because of all the players involved. But unlike Nixon, Obama is not a Republican.

So I ask:  Do all the people have a “right to know” or do only the “liberal half”?

As far as bi-partisanship goes, I, for one, am not holding my breath.

If the media, in this situation, does not do its job, the Congress will!  Still, I fear that a biased media will regard any legitimate inquiries as  “partisan bashing.” Yg1qn3ca9w

I didn always feel this way. In fact, when I was still an idealistic senior in college I wrote a paper that embraced the viewpoint of Dr. Fritz Perls, the father of Gestalt Therapy, who described diagnoses as labels that put people into pigeonholes and prevent us from having a genuine experience with others.

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