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FBI Investigating Cleveland Anthrax Hoax

anthrax spores

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is continuing an investigation into an anthrax scare in Cleveland, reports WDEF.com.

On Wednesday afternoon a letter containing white powder was found addressed to the Bradley County Circuit Court’s Office, but a mobile testing unit determined the substance was just talcum powder, according to WDEF.

No one is sick and thing are “back to normal,” the county mayor said.

“The employees that were right around there when it was opened, and the ones that actually opened it, were put through a tough time, waiting, and not knowing. Thank goodness it turned out that it wasn’t real.  It was a hoax, which is a bad thing, but it’s better than if it had been real,” said Mayor Gary Davis.

Davis said investigators now know where the letter came from but are not releasing that information to the public yet.

To read more click here.

17 Arrested in Texas Syndicate Sting

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

It was a busy day for authorities with the DEA and local law enforcement in San Antonio Thursday, where agents rounded up and brought to federal court 6 of 17 suspects facing murder, racketeering and drug charges, reports Kens5.com

The suspects were members of the Texas Syndicate. The indictment claims the suspects were involved in four murders, two attempted murders, conspiracy to commit murder, drug trafficking and other crimes as part of the Texas Syndicate gang since January of 2008, according to Kens5.com.

The defendants face life sentences for each racketeering charge and up to 10 years for conspiracy to commit murder. The arrests came at the end of an 18 month investigation between a DEA Task Force, US Marshals Service, the ATF, IRS and local law enforcement agencies.

To read more click here.

 

Feds, Secret Service Look into Bank Card Skimming Machines at Calif. Supermarkets

By Danny Fenster
tickelthewire.com

Some unlucky shoppers fell victim to a credit and debit card-skimming operation in Northern California at the unfortunately named Lucky supermarket in San Leandro recently.

The market is the 24th in Northern California to be victimized by such a scheme, according to ABC News. More than 500 customers called Lucky about fraudulent or attempted fraudulent activity, parent company Save Mart Supermarkets said on its website in a customer advisory note.

“Every customer should continue checking their accounts regularly as a precaution if they used a checkout terminal in October or November,” the customer advisory stated.

The Secret Service is examining the tampered card readers that were found at several store self-checkout machines. Local, state and federal agencies are involved in the investigation as well.

To read more click here.

DEA Money Laundering Began Under Reagan, Justice Says

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The DEA sting operation involving the laundering of money to drug cartels that has angered some Republican congressmen actually dates back to the Reagan administration, according to the Justice Department.

Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs Ronald Weich sent a letter to Rep. Darrel Issa–the Republic congressman leading the charges against the Justice Department–which said Congress gave the DEA the authority to conduct such operations in 1984, reports a blog from the Houston Chronicle. During Reagan’s time in office DEA investigations laundered as much as $100 million, gaining access to top levels of drug cartel leadership, according to Weich.

Congress gave the Drug Enforcement Administration the authority to conduct such sting runs as far back as 1984, Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs Ronald Weich told Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., in a letter, obtained by Texas on the Potomac. In investigations during the Ronald Reagan administration, some in which agents laundered over $100 million, they gained access to the top levels of drug-cartel leadership, Weich wrote.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST:

FBI Offers $5,000 Reward for Calif. Police Station Bombing

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Who would throw a Molotov cocktail at a police station?

That’s what the FBI wants to know.

The FBI is offering a $5,000 reward for help finding the person who threw two Molotov cocktails at a police outpost near University of California Santa Barbara last month and left taunting graffiti messages, the Los Angeles Times reported.

A surveillance of the the the Nov. 15 bombing was released by the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department,the LA Times reported. No one was injured.

See video

 

Family Releases Video of Live Missing Ex-FBI Agent

 

Robert Levinson

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The missing caper involving retired FBI agent Robert Levinson who vanished in Iran in 2007 , took another dramatic turn Friday.

The Associated Press reported that the family website posted a video of the family issuing a plea to his unknown kidnappers along with a hostage video of Levinson, 63, himself from his unknown captors.

“Please tell us your demands so we can work together to bring my father home safely,” says Levinson’s son David, seated beside his mother, Christine.

AP reported that the hostage video of Levinson, which the family received in November 2010, In the hostage video, which the family received in November 2010, Levinson pleaded with the U.S. government to meet the demands of the people holding him, whom he did not identify.

The 54-second hostage video of Levinson shows him looking haggard, AP reported. He has a history of diabetes and high blood pressure.

“I have been treated well,” Levinson says in the video. “But I need the help of the United States government to answer the requests of the group that has held me for three and a half years,” Levinson says. “And please help me get home.”

“I am not in very good health,” he says. “I am running very quickly out of diabetes medicine.”

Levinson, married and the father of seven, vanished in March 2007 after checking out of a hotel on Kish Island, a Persian Gulf resort off the southern coast of Iran.

To read more click here.

Prez of FBI Agents Association Fires Off Letter Opposing Law Requiring Mandatroy Military Custody in Terrorists

Konrad Motyka, president of the FBI Agents Association, wrote this Dec. 7 letter to members of  the Senate Armed Services Committee. He wrote the letter stating the association’s opposition to  a proposed law that would require mandatory military custody for someone captured who is suspected of being a member of al Qaeda or its affiliate and is involved in plotting or carrying out terrorist acts against the U.S.  FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III has also fired off a letter to lawmakers stating his opposition to the law.

Konrad Motyka/ticklethewire.com photo

Dec. 7, 2011

Dear Chairmen and Ranking Members

On behalf of the more than 12,000 active duty and retired FBI Agents who are members of the FBI Agents Association (“FBIAA”), I write today to express our concerns about Section 1032 of S. 1867, the National Defense Act for Fiscal Year 2012.

Section 1032 requires that persons detained in connection with incidents of terrorism be held in military Custody and leaves Critical operational details unresolved, Like many in the federal law enforcement and intelligence communities, the FBIAA is concerned that this language undermines the ability of our counterte1’1’01’ism experts to conduct effective investigations.

Accordingly, we urge the conferees working to reconcile H.R. 1540 and S. 1867 through the conference process to reject Section 1032.

Section 1032 establishes a presumption for military custody for individuals detained in connection with acts of terrorism against the United States. While Section 1032 includes some exceptions and waivers to the military custody requirement, they are limited in scope and could create additional layers of bureaucracy at critical points in our investigations. lnjecting this level of uncertainty and delay into terrorism investigations could undermine law enforcement effectiveness.

To truly fight terrorism, all of the nation’s law enforcement assets should be deployed and enabled to act nimbly. This can only be accomplished if our laws preserve flexibility and prevent unnecessary bureaucracy from hampering law enforcement activities.

As part of the nation’s Counterterrorism strategy, FBI Agents work in the United States and abroad as an integral part of the intelligence-gathering and interrogation process.

Read more »

Atty. Gen. Holder Gets Partisan Grilling on the Hill; He Pushes Back

Atty. Gen. Holder on the Hill on Thursday/ttw photo via C-Span

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Attorney Gen. Eric Holder took heat once again from congressional Republicans over the ATF’s Fast and Furious operation, speaking with the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

Republican Rep. Darrel Issa (R-Calif.), who has largely been leading the charge against the Attorney General, kept up his sharp remarks, telling Holder he has no confidence in him or a president that would stand behind him. Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar recently told the Daily Caller–a website that has been vocally critical of Holder–that he will push for a vote of no confidence in Holder as A.G.

The attack on Thursday at the hearing  was aimed at ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious, which encouraged gun dealers in Arizona to sell to straw purchasers or middlemen, all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels.  Problem was, ATF, which operates  under the Justice Department umbrella, lost track of many of those guns, some which surfaced at crime scenes on both sides of the border.

Holder has said all along that he only learned of the operation when it surfaced as a controversy, and condemned the tactics. Some Republicans have insisted that he’s lying about what he knew, and have asked for his resignation.

James Sensenbrenner, Republican from Wisconsin, implied that Holder had lied to Congress regarding details about Fast and Furious and when Holder learned of the tactics. “If the can keeps getting kicked,” Sensenbrenner told Holder, impeachment may be the only option.

When Texas Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee asked for clarification of who Sensenbrenner suggested he might seek to impeach, she was shut down by Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, the House Judiciary Committee chair.

“I think that some heads should roll,” Sensenbrenner continued, calling for the firing of  Justice Dept. official Lanny Breuer, who heads the criminal division.

The argument remained split along party lines, with Democrats insisting the accusations against Holder and the Justice Department are overblown, citing the good ATF has done in the past. Representatives John Conyers, D-Mich., and Bobby Scott, D-Va., said the increased gun violence along the border calls for the so-called “Demand Letter 3,” which some gun rights activists have suggested was the plan all along. The letter was sent to gun dealers, mandating that they report sales of two or more assault rifles to the same person within five days.

Holder conceded, as he has in the past, that the tactics used in Fast and Furious were “unacceptable tactics” and “inexcusable.”

Still, he insisted the department has cooperated with Congressional investigators looking into the botched operation and who gave the go ahead.

He also addressed the issue of the department in February providing a misleading to Congress about Fast and Furious, which essentially denied the things that were going on with the operation.

But Holder said no one who prepared the letter lied, but were given incorrect information.

When pressed by Sensenbrenner as why providing false information wasn’t  considered lying, Holder said:

“It all has to do with your state of mind and whether or not you had the requisite intent to come up with something that can be considered perjury or lie,” Holder said.

Holder was also critical of some Republican critics of his, saying they were engaged in “inflammatory and inappropriate rhetoric … in an effort to score political points.”

It’s time to end “politically motivated ‘gotcha’ games,” he said.