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News Story

U.S. No Fly List Doubles; Underwear Bomber Appears to Have Contributed to Spike

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The man dubbed the “Underwear Bomber”, who tried blowing up a Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas day in 2009, may have contributed more to this country than we think.

The Associated Press reports that the U.S. no fly list for suspected terrorists has more than doubled in the past year, and the bump seems to coincide with the Underwear Bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s failed attempt to blow up the airplane.

AP reported that the “the flood of new names began after the failed Christmas 2009 bombing of a Detroit-bound jetliner. The government lowered the standard for putting people on the list, and then scoured its files for anyone who qualified. The government will not disclose who is on its list or why someone might have been placed on it.”

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST:

 

Issa threatens Holder with contempt over Mexico gun probe

file photo/doj

By Kevin Johnson
USA TODAY

The chairman of the House’s chief investigative committee today threatened Attorney General Eric Holder with contempt of Congress if he failed to provide additional documents in the panel’s ongoing inquiry into allegations that federal agents allowed hundreds of weapons to flow to Mexico and into the hands of drug cartel enforcers.

In a four-page letter, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., charged that the Justice Department was actively attempting to “obstruct” the panel’s investigation and that documents sought under an October subpoena be delivered by Feb. 9.

“If the department continues to obstruct the congressional inquiry by not providing documents and information, this committee will have no alternative but to move forward with proceedings to hold you in contempt of Congress,” Issa wrote.

To read more click here.

Oops! FBI in Mass. Busts into Wrong Apartment During Raid and Points Guns

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ooops!

Make that two Ooops!

The Associated Press reported that the FBI last week used a chain saw to cut open an apartment door during a drug raid in Fitchburg, Mass., in Worcester County. Only thing is, it was the wrong apartment.

Agents also pointed guns at the people inside, AP reported.

The news service reported resident Judy Sanchez said she was terrified when she stepped into her kitchen and saw chainsaw blade cut through her door.

AP reported that she was held face down on the floor at gunpoint for at least 30 minutes while her 3-year-old daughter cried in another room.

AP reported that the FBI apologized and is paying for the damage.

 

Border Agent Fires Shot in Drug Smuggling Incident

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

A US Border agent fired a shot along the Arizona-Mexico border on Monday morning while breaking up a drug-smuggling attempt–a shot that may have injured at least one person in Mexico, reports Reuters.

“A Border Patrol agent fired a service weapon east of Nogales while responding to illegal narcotics activity. Authorities are investigating claims that at least one subject was injured,” the statement said, according to Reuters.

The incident occurred near a border fence in Nogales, Arizona, according to Reuters.

Local, federal and international authorities are investigating.

To read more click here.

Romanian Hacker Breaks into Pentagon, NASA Databases, Draws Investigation

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

A 20-year-old Romanian hacker is suspected of breaking into several NASA and Pentagon servers and posting confidential data from the servers on his blog, the Associated Press reports. Romanian officials are investigating the youth, officials said on Tuesday, in cooperation with the FBI.

Razvan Manole Cernaianu, reportedly an information technology student, allegedly offered to sell an app which showed how he broke into the servers as well.

Cernaianu “used sophisticated hacking tools to gain unauthorized access to government and commercial systems,” the US Embassy in Bucharest said in a statement.

To read more click here.

Confirmed: Civil Rights Era Photographer Ernest Withers Served as FBI Informant

stanford edu photo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The civil rights era photographer Ernest Withers has been officially confirmed as a one-time FBI informant, reports the Blog of LegalTimes.

The FBI in the past has long-refused to confirm or deny Withers’s status as an informant, but it accidentally confirmed Withers’ work in documents it released to a newspaper, a federal judge in Washington said on Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the D.C.  ruled today against the U.S. Justice Department in a spat between a newspaper reporter and the FBI over access to the agency’s file on Withers.

To read more click here.

Folk Nation Gang Members Remain at Large after FBI Arrests

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Two members of the Folk Nation Gang remain at large in Brooklyn after NYPD detectives and FBI agents arrested a number of other members early Tuesday morning, the FBI said.

One of the fugitives, standing 6′ tall at about 200 pounds,  is Devon Rodney, 24,  a leader of the violent gang, according tot he FBI. Rodney is also known as D-BLOC, Devon Nias and Devon Rodriguez. He has brown eyes and black hair and sports a  He is 6’ tall, 200 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair, and sports a tear drop tattoo under his right eye.

The other man at large is Rahleek Odom, 19, who goes by the names RAH and  Ralik Odom, another member of the gang. Odom is 5’8” tall, 230 pounds, also with brown eyes and black hair. He is known to frequent the Ebbets Field neighborhood in Brooklyn, says the FBI. Odom was also recently released from prison.

The bureau is offering a reward for tips leading to an arrest. They are asking for those with information to call 212-384-1000, and will gladly accept anonymous tips.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST:

Dem Staff Report Says Top Justice Officials Did Not Give Green Light for Fast and Furious

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A report issued late Monday night by the Democrats on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform tries to debunk suggestions by Republicans that high level appointees at the Justice Department conceived and directed the very flawed ATF Operation Fast and Furious. It places the blame for the operation squarely on the agents in Phoenix.

“This report debunks many unsubstantiated conspiracy theories,” Representative Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), the top ranking Democrat,  wrote in a cover letter for the detailed report. “Contrary to repeated claims by some, the committee has obtained no evidence that Operation Fast and Furious was a politically motivated operation conceived and directed by high-level Obama administration political appointees at the Department of Justice.”

“The documents obtained and interviews conducted by the Committee indicate that it was the latest in a series of reckless and fatally flawed operations run by ATF’s Phoenix Field Division during both the previous and current administrations,” Cummings wrote.

The report counters repeated claims by Republicans like Committee Chair Darrell Issa (R-Calif) that top ranking Justice Dept. officials gave the green light for  Fast and Furious.  Under the operation, ATF’s Phoenix office encouraged gun dealers to sell to “straw purchasers”, all with the hopes of tracing the guns to the Mexican cartels.  Some of the weapons surfaced at crime scenes including at the murder scene in Arizona of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.  Many Republicans have called for Atty. Gen. Eric Holder and Lanny Breuer, head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, to resign.

The report is expected to be met with skepticism by many Republicans and critics of ATF, which has come under intense scrutiny, and has undergone a major shakeup in management. Holder is scheduled to appear before Issa’s and Cumming’s committee on Thursday where he’s likely to get a grilling from the Republicans.

Cummings, who has sometimes been at odds with Issa over Fast and Furious, said in a press release  that the minority staff report was the result “of the Committee’s year-long investigation into the actions and circumstances that led to multiple gunwalking operations in Arizona from 2006 to 2010.”

The report concludes that the ATF Phoenix office failed to use sufficient controls to stop weapons from getting into the hands of violent criminals.

“Although this report provides a great amount of detail about what we have learned to date, it has several shortcomings,” Cummings wrote in his letter. “Despite requests from me and others, the Committee never held a hearing or even conducted an interview with former Attorney General Michael Mukasey. The Committee obtained documents indicating that in 2007 he was personally informed about the failure of previous law enforcement operations involving the illegal smuggling of weapons into Mexico, and that he received a proposal to expand these operations. Since the Committee failed to speak with Mr. Mukasey, we do not have the benefit of his input about why these operations were allowed to continue after he was given this information.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings/govt. photo

“The Committee also rejected my request to hold a public hearing with Kenneth Melson, the former Acting Director of ATF, the agency primarily responsible for these operations. Although Committee staff conducted an interview with Mr. Melson, the public has not had an opportunity to hear his explanations for why these operations continued for so many years without adequate oversight from ATF headquarters.”

The report states that in 2006, ATF agents in Phoenix initiated Operation Wide Receiver with the cooperation of a local gun dealer.

“For months, ATF agents watched in realtime as traffickers purchased guns and drove them across the border into Mexico,” the report states.

The report also states “that ATF’s former Acting Director, Kenneth Melson, and ATF’s Deputy Director, William Hoover, told Committee staff that gunwalking violated agency doctrine,that they did not approve it, and that they were not aware that ATF agents in Phoenix were using the tactic in Operation Fast and Furious. They also stated that, because they did not know about the use of gunwalking in Operation Fast and Furious, they never raised it up the chain of command to senior Justice Department officials.”

The report further stated: “Former Phoenix U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke told Committee staff that although he received multiple briefings on Operation Fast and Furious, he did not approve gunwalking, was not aware it was being used, and did not inform officials in Washington about its use.”

“He told Committee staff that, at the time he approved the proposal for a broader strategy targeting cartel leaders instead of straw purchasers, he had been informed that there was no probable cause to make any arrests and that he had been under the impression that ATF agents were working closely with Mexican officials to interdict weapons.”

The report goes on to state: “Gary Grindler, the former Acting Deputy Attorney General, and Lanny Breuer, the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, both stated that neither ATF nor the U.S. Attorney’s Office ever brought to their attention concerns about gunwalking in Operation Fast and Furious, and that, if they had been told, they ‘would have stopped it.’”

“When allegations of gunwalking three years earlier in Operation Wide Receiver were brought to the attention of Mr. Breuer in 2010, he immediately directed his deputy to share their concerns directly with ATF’s leadership. He testified, however, that he regretted not raising these concerns directly with the Attorney General or Deputy Attorney General, stating, “if I had known then what I know now, I, of course, would have told the Deputy and the Attorney General.”

“The Committee has obtained no evidence indicating that the Attorney General authorized gunwalking or that he was aware of such allegations before they became public. None of the 22 witnesses interviewed by the Committee claims to have spoken with the Attorney General about the specific tactics employed in Operation Fast and Furious prior to the public controversy.”