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Dem Sharply Criticizes Rep. Issa for Attacks on Atty.Gen. Holder Concerning Fast and Furious

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Criticism about ATF’s controversial Operation Fast and Furious have overwhelming come from Republicans like Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Charles Grassley.  But not everyone agrees with the intensity of the criticism.

On Sunday, Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the Oversight & Government Reform Committee, told CBS’ Face the Nation that he thinks committee Chair Darrell Issa is conducting a witch hunt.

Issa has been aggressively investigating the failing of the operation and has repeatedly accused Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. of knowing more about the operation when it was going on then he has admitted to.

Holder claimed earlier this year that he only heard of the operation after it surfaced as a controversy. Issa has claimed he knew about it much earlier.

Cummings said on “Face the Nation” Sunday that Holder absolutely “didn’t know” what was going on.

“The man in charge of the ATF has told us, has told Mr. Issa, that he never communicated the controversial tactics with regard to ‘Fast & Furious’ to Attorney General Holder,” Cummings told CBS’ Bob Schieffer.

Cummings said the head of the ATF at the time, Ken Melson, wasn’t even aware of the tactics being used that encouraged firearms stores to sell to middlemen, all with the hopes that the ATF could trace the guns to the Mexican cartels. ATF lost track of hte many of the guns, two of which surfaced at the scene in Arizona last year where Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was gunned down.

“And still, Chairman Issa goes out there – and Republicans – accusing the highest law enforcement officer in the land of being an accessory to murder and things of that nature, and calling for his resignation,” he said on the show.  “Just because … you don’t like some facts, you don’t throw them out the door and say, ‘I’m not going to look at those.’ You look at the entire picture.

“That simply has not happened here,” he said.

When asked if he agreed with the notion that “the chairman is on a witch hunt here,” Cummings said, “I do.”

“He’s come up with these statements and then he goes in search of the facts,” he added.

UPDATED: Oct. 17: 2:05 p.m.

Becca Glover Watkins, press secretary for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, of which Issa chairs, responded to questions from ticklethewire.com by issuing a statement that said:

“Despite his commitment to the Terry family, Ranking Member Cummings and the Oversight Committee minority has been conspicuously absent from efforts to uncover new evidence or press the Justice Department to fully answer questions. Their own rhetoric and actions reveal them as apologists for the Justice Department and not as investigators seeking answers.”

 

Feds, Scientists’ Split on Expanding DNA Profiles for Investigations

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The FBI’s plan to expand the range of genetic markers that generate genetic profiles in their DNA database is bumping up against some criticism from scientists,  reports the BBC.

Dr. Bruce Budowle, a former senior scientist for the FBI, who helped create the current set of genetic markers-known as the Codis system-for the agency in the 1990s, says the plan is not being driven by the needs of scientists’. He and colleagues Arthur Eisenberg and Jianye Ge outlined objections at the Promega 22nd Internation Symposium on Human Identification.

Updating standards is a good idea, Budowle,  who is now of the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth and was involved in the anthrax investigation while at the FBI, told the BBC. But he said it  needs to be done with more consultation from scientists to ensure that the right markers are chosen. The FBI has not been properly consulting with the forensic science community, he says, according to the BBC.

Dr Budowle said some of the markers in both the old and new Codis systems used DNA fragments so large that they can be difficult for forensic scientists to detect. The longer fragments can be prone to degradation or only available in small amounts. Even if the longer fragments can be useful, Bodowle told the BBC, degraded DNA or undetected DNA is useless.

Bruce Budowle/univ. photo

“The first time around we took a community-wide approach – 21 laboratories rolling up their sleeves and generating data we could analyse and [use to] make decisions,” Budowle, of the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth, told the BBC.

“This time around, they formed a working group of around five [scientists] and an FBI person to decide what the core set should be.

“Should the needs of Codis – our national database system – drive the casework processes, or should the needs of casework drive the Codis processes?

“I would hope the latter is obviously what should be done.”

To read more click here.

 

LA Co Jail — the Target of FBI Probe — is Condemned in ACLU Report

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

LA County Sheriff Lee Bacca won’t be winning any managerial or humanitarian awards any time soon.

Ticklethewire.com has reported on Baca before. He has been accused of allowing a culture of violence and inmate abuse run rampant in LA prisons.  And the Sheriff previously expressed anger that the FBI smuggled a cell phone to a prisoner acting as a mole to investigate claims of abuse. Now, reports the LA Times, an ACLU report has documentation of dozens of cases of abuse under Baca’s jurisdiction.

“If he were a CEO, he’d have been out a long time ago,” former assistant special agent in charge of the FBI‘s Los Angeles office Tom Parker told the Times.

Parker, hired by the ACLU to conduct his own research and compare it against the ACLU findings, says he has been in over 40 jails and prisons nationally. And in his report, he wrote he has “never experienced any facility exhibiting the volume and repetitive patterns of violence, misfeasance and malfeasance impacting Los Angeles County.”

“To an astonishing extent, unchecked violence, both deputy-on-inmate and inmate-on-deputy, permeates Men’s Central Jail and Twin Towers Jail,” he wrote.

Writes Steve Lopez, of the LA Times: “Baca, as I’ve said before, is an unorthodox guy — more of a shaman than a sheriff — who’s distinctly progressive on some issues. But he’s been a lousy administrator and leader in many ways, whether he’s handing out badges and guns to celebrity pals, giving special treatment to acquaintances or loading up on more gifts than all the state’s other county sheriffs combined.”

To read more click here.

 

Indianapolis Fed Judge Drops Suit Against FBI Agents

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A federal judge in Indianapolis has tossed a lawsuit by a local attorney who claimed FBI agents conspired with the former Delaware County prosecutor to frame him for a crime — namely bribing a witness in a client’s case, according to the Muncie Star Press

In July 2010, attorney Michael J. Alexander filed the lawsuit alleging FBI agents Neal Freeman and James Randall Howard and others “entered into a conspiracy to falsely accuse (Alexander) of a conspiracy to commit bribery,” the paper reported.

It all began in February 2008 when Alexander was charged with bribing the witness. The following year, a local jury deliberated for an hour before finding him not guilty, the Star Press reported. In a separate trial, Alexander’s client and an an investigator for Alexander were convicted of bribing a witness.

Last April, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Young dismissed the case against the county prosecutor. Last week, he dismissed the suit against the agents, the Star Press reported.

The paper reported that the the judge ruled that Alexander “failed to sufficiently allege a constitutional violation.”

“Alexander had claimed that after sending Adrian Kirtz, the alleged recipient of the bribe, to Alexander’s law office wearing ‘electronic monitoring equipment,’ the FBI agents “hid, manipulated or destroyed the recordings” that showed the attorney was not aware of the bribery conspiracy,” the paper reported.

It said Alexander claimed he was targeted because of his public criticism of the Muncie-Delaware County Drug Task Force.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

 

 

Rep. Issa Talks About Fast and Furious on CBS’s Face the Nation

Sen. Grassley Says FBI/Justice Dept.’s Resistance Likely to Stifle Re-examination of Deadly Anthrax Case

Anthrax Suspect Bruce Ivins

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

You needn’t go to the oddsmakers in Vegas to predict whether the anthrax case will be reopened for a fresh examination.

Just ask Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ia.).

Grassley, one of several politicians who have been skeptical of the FBI findings that government scientist Bruce Ivins sent the letters, said it would take a powerful grassroots movement or startling new evidence to reopen the probe, according to an article authored by Greg Gordon of McClatchy Newspapers, Stephen Engelberg of ProPublica and Mike Wiser of PBS’ Frontline.

The FBI and the Justice Department have insisted that Ivins was the culprit, citing a collection of facts and circumstances. Ivins committed suicide in July 2008, shortly before the feds planned to charge him in the 2001 mailings that killed five and sickened 17 others.

Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee,  said in the article that adamant opposition from the FBI and Justice Department is likely to block further inquiry

Even if he were the committee chairman, Grassley said,  according to the article:  “I would question my capability of raising enough heat (to reopen the case) when you’re up against the FBI. And I’ve been up against the FBI.”

His comments came after  PBS’ Frontline, McClatchy and ProPublica, in a joint investigation, cited evidence in a lengthy article that challenged some of the government’s scientific and circumstantial evidence.

To read more click here.

Weekend Series on Crime: The Mexican Mafia Gang

http://youtu.be/WPsgUTxQnMI

Mexican Drug Traffickers Dug Tunnels Under Metered Parking Spaces in Az

 
 
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Mexican drug dealers are getting pretty darn imaginative when it comes to using tunnels at the border.

ABC News reports that authorities found smugglers had dug more than a dozen tunnels at the border in Nogales, Az, that opened up right under a parking lot with meters.

ABC reported that the smugglers cut neat rectangles out of the pavement under parking spots.

People on the U.S. side then parked cars with false bottoms in the spots and fed the meters. Then someone would come under the car and load it with drugs.

After that, someone would put the concret blocks back in place, using jacks, ABC reported. Then someone would drive off with the car.

ABC reported that U.S. Border Patrol agents found 16 tunnels leading to the 18 metered parking spaces on International Street in Nogales.

“It’s unbelievable,” Nogales mayor Arturo Garino told Tucson, Arizona ABC affiliate KGUN. “Those are the strides these people take to get the drugs across the border.”
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