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Column: How the Patriot Act Stripped Me of My Free-Speech Rights

By Nicholas Merrill
Washington Post

Sometime in 2012, I will begin the ninth year of my life under an FBI gag order, which began when I received what is known as a national security letter at the small Internet service provider I owned. On that day in 2004 (the exact date is redacted from court papers, so I can’t reveal it), an FBI agent came to my office and handed me a letter. It demanded that I turn over information about one of my clients and forbade me from telling “any person” that the government had approached me.

National security letters are issued by the FBI, not a judge, to obtain phone, computer, and banking information. Instead of complying, I spoke with a lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union and filed a constitutional challenge against the NSL provision of the Patriot Act, which was signed into law 10 years ago Wednesday.

A decade later, much of the government’s surveillance policy remains shrouded in secrecy, making it impossible for the American public to engage in a meaningful debate on the effectiveness or wisdom of various practices.

To read full column click here.

Baseball Legend Roger Clemens Wants the Feds to Pay His Attorney Fees

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Former Major League Baseball legend Roger Clemens is making a bid for a second victory.

In July, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton declared a mistrial in his perjury case because of a prosecutorial error.

Now, he wants the feds to pay for attorney fees and other costs in the trial, Business Week reports.

“An award of fees and costs will at least partially restore Mr. Clemens to the same position he was in before the prosecutors engaged in conduct meriting a mistrial,” Rusty Hardin, a lawyer for Clemens, said in a court filing in federal court in Washington, according to business week.

Bill Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined comment, citing an order by Judge Walton not to discuss the case publicly, Newsweek reported.

 

The Ok Bombing it Ain’t; Ex-FBI Director Asked to Investigate SAT Test Security

Louis J. Freeh/adl photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

As FBI Director Louie Freeh oversaw some of the biggest investigations in the nation including the Oklahoma bombing and the 1998 bombings of American embassies in Africa.

Now as a private lawyer and consultant, he’s being asked to tackle a task with a little less world import.

The New York Times reported that the College Board is hiring Freeh to review its security involving SAT tests.

The move comes in wake of a scandal involving seven Long Island teenagers who were arrested for cheating.

The Times reported that Nassau County prosecutors filed criminal charges on Sept. 27 against Samuel Eshaghoff, 19, who is accused of taking payments to take the SAT tests for six former and current students at Great Neck North High School.

The Times reported that scandal still has potential to get bigger and involve more students.

Fed Law Enforcement Infiltrating Cartels in Mexico

By GINGER THOMPSON
New York Times

WASHINGTON — American law enforcement agencies have significantly built up networks of Mexican informants that have allowed them to secretly infiltrate some of that country’s most powerful and dangerous criminal organizations, according to security officials on both sides of the border.

As the United States has opened new law enforcement and intelligence outposts across Mexico in recent years, Washington’s networks of informants have grown there as well, current and former officials said. They have helped Mexican authorities capture or kill about two dozen high-ranking and midlevel drug traffickers, and sometimes have given American counternarcotics agents access to the top leaders of the cartels they are trying to dismantle.

Typically, the officials said, Mexico is kept in the dark about the United States’ contacts with its most secret informants — including Mexican law enforcement officers, elected officials and cartel operatives — partly because of concerns about corruption among the Mexican police, and partly because of laws prohibiting American security forces from operating on Mexican soil.

“The Mexicans sort of roll their eyes and say we know it’s happening, even though it’s not supposed to be happening,” said Eric L. Olson, an expert on Mexican security matters at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

To read the full story click here.

 

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST 

 

 

 

Andrew Weissmann Named FBI’s General Counsel

Andrew Weissmann/photo columbia law

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Andrew Weissmann, a private lawyer who once served as the former director of the federal government’s Enron task force, and who also previously served as FBI Director Robert S. Mueller’s special counsel, will become the FBI’s new general counsel, according to the Am Law Daily reported.

The publication reports that Weissman has left his post as cochair of Jenner & Block’s white-collar defense and investigations practice, a New York-based firm he joined in 2006.

Weissmann replaces Valerie Caproni, who became the general counsel at Northrop Grumman Corporation earlier this month, Am Law Daily reported.

The publication reported that he will oversee a 300-lawyer law department.

 

 

8 NYPD Cops Busted in Gun Smuggling Ring

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

And now for one of those black eyes that all police departments hate.

Reuters reports that 8 New York cops were arrested Tuesday on fed charges for allegedly helping run a run a gun-smuggling ring in the city.  Four others were also charged in the case.

Reuters reported that the U.S. Attorney’s office confirmed the arrests and said the ring also smuggled other items such as cigarettes and slot machines.

Reuters reported that of the eight officers, five are active duty officers and three are retired.

 

Got Drugs? DEA Wants You to Turn Them In

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The ad stripped across the bottom of USA Today’s Money section on Monday read: “Got Drugs? Turn in your unused or expired medication for safe disposal Saturday, October 29th.”

The ad,  an apparent play on the popular ad campaign “Got Milk?”, also appears on the top of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s webpage, and is part of a campaign by the DEA to get folks to throw out their expired or unused drugs.

The DEA will have collection sites set up around the country from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“National Prescription Drug Take Back Day addresses a vital public safety and public health issue,” the DEA said in a press release.”More than seven million Americans currently abuse prescription drugs, according to the 2009 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

“Each day, approximately, 2,500 teens use prescription drugs to get high for the first time according to the Partnership for a Drug Free America. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including the home medicine cabinet.”

 

Affleck and Matt Damon to Make Movie About Mobster “Whitey” Bulger

Ben Affleck/facebook photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It was just a matter of time.

Four months after the FBI captured Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger  in California, word has surfaced that a movie will be made based on his life.

The website Deadline New York reports that actors Ben Affleck and Matt Damon “are reuniting in their first real picture partnership since Good Will Hunting” to make the movie about Bulger.

Deadline New York reports that Warner Bros will make the film and Affleck will direct, co-star. Damon will play Bulger.

“Matt and I have been looking for something to do together for some time,” Affleck said, according to the website. “We’ve heard about Whitey Bulger since we were kids, and we are excited by the prospect of putting it on screen.”

The movie The Departed, directed by Martin Scorsese, was supposedly inspired by the Bulger story.

Bulger was a fugitive for 16 years.

The website said the new movie will be based on Bulger’s life including his time as an FBI informant, which has long been a sensitive issue within the FBI.