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News Story

FBI Stats Show Gun Sales on the Rise

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Depending on where you stand on the issue of gun sales, here’s good or bad news:

Gun sales continue to rise in this country, according to the Dayton Daily News.

The paper based its conclusion on FBI background checks for gun sales — a good indicator of sales — which increased to 14.4 million in 2010 from 8.5 million in 2003, according to the FBI.

The paper reported a record number of firearm background checks in Ohio.

In Ohio, during the first seven months of this year, the FBI conducted 247,847 background checks for firearm purchases at gun sellers, up 17.7 percent from the same period in 2010, 9.2 percent from 2009 and 42.4 percent from 2008, the paper reported, citing the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

The paper reported that Andrew M. Molchan, director of the Professional Gun Retailers Association, said gun sales have been on the upswing nationwide for the last six years following a Supreme Court ruling lifting gun bans in major cities including Washington.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

ATF Promotes Some Key Players in Controversial Fast and Furious Project

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

ATF has promoted some key players involved in the controversial gun project “Operation Fast and Furious” that encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to middlemen — all with the hope of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartel, the LA Times reports.

The operation was considered a failure. Agents lost track of some of the weapons that later surfaced at crimes scenes on both sides of the Mexican-U.S. border.

One of those key players is William G. McMahon, who was the ATF’s deputy director of operations in the West. He was promoted Sunday to McMahon was promoted Sunday to deputy assistant director of the ATF’s Office of Professional Responsibility and Security Operations, the Los Angeles Times reported.

David Voth,  a field supervisors who oversaw the program out ATF’s Phoenix office, has become branch chief for the agency’s tobacco division, the paper reported.

The LA Times reported ‘several agents said they found the timing of the promotions surprising, given the turmoil at the agency over the failed program.’

Additionally, William Newell, who headed the Phoenix Division during Operation Fast and Furious, has gotten a new post as special assistant to the assistant director of the agency’s Office of Management in Washington.

His new assignment was a bit more complicated.

Last October, ATF announced that he would become ATF’s attache in Mexico City.  But when Operation Fast and Furious blew up and became the focus of a Congressional inquiry, the agency delayed his departure to Mexico and instead sent him to Washington to help with the inquiry.

Word circulated within ATF that the Mexican government was fuming over the program that let guns into Mexico, and that the government was talking about arresting Newell if he came south across the border.

ATF rethought the assignment and decided to keep Newell in Washington.

Secret Service Buys Souped Up Buses; Obama Using One for Midwest Travel

Pres. Obama in Cannon Falls, Minn./white house photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Greyhound it ain’t.

The U.S. Secret Service has purchased a new $1.1 million bus that President Barack Obama is using for his travels through the Midwest, the Associated Press reported.

The AP described the bus as “an impenetrable-looking conveyance the size of a cross-country Greyhound, painted all in black, with dark tinted windows and flashing red and blue lights.”

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan told the AP the bus wasn’t purchased solely for the president and would be used for other dignitaries. He said the agency also purchased a second bus.

He told AP that the Secret Service was overdue for some buses for protections of politicians traveling around the country by bus.

FBI Launches New Site to Show Agency Changes Since Sept. 11 Attacks

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has changed dramatically since the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, with a heavy emphasis on counterterrorism.

Not all the agents have liked the change, but it’s a reality that was brought about by the attacks and pressure from the public and Capitol Hill.

To chronicle that change, the FBI has developed a new website “Ten Years After: The FBI Since 9/11.”

The top of the new FBI page begins:

“By all accounts, the morning of September 11, 2001 was a pivotal point in American history—and for the FBI.

“The ensuing investigation was the most massive in the history of the Bureau. The attacks led to far-reaching changes in the organization, which quickly made prevention of terrorist strikes its overriding priority and deliberately set out to be more predictive and intelligence-driven in addressing all major national security and criminal threats.

“Here you can find a range of materials on both the 9/11 investigation and how the FBI has changed in the past decade. We will be adding more information in the weeks to come.

To see the site click here.

Ala. Fed Prosecutors to Get 2nd Bite Out of Apple in Corruption Case

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The feds in Alabama will get a second bite out of the apple after their high-profile gambling corruption case imploded last week.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson set a retrial date of Oct. 3. However, he has not yet decided whether there will be more than one trial, the Associated Press reported.

A jury voted to acquit on 91 charges and deadlocked on 33 others. None of the nine defendants were convicted, and two were completely acquitted.

The nine defendants were accused of buying and selling votes on legislation that would legalize electronic bingo games in the state, AP reported.

AP reported that the Justice Department has asked the judge to split the seven remaining defendants into three groups for retrial. The defense attorneys want one combined trial.  The judge plans to address the issue on Wednesday.

The White Powder We Fear: Packages Shut Down Alaska Congressional Offices in Fairbanks

Sen. Murkowski

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The anthrax attacks of 2001 have left the U.S. with a collective paranoia about white powder and mail.

The latest: Authorities temporarily shut the offices of three Alaska Congressional members on Monday after their Fairbanks offices received suspicious packages with white powder, Reuters news service reported.

It ended up being harmless.

Reuters reported that it ended up that a man had sent samples of concrete material to the Congressional delegation, which includes Sen. Mark Begich, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Rep. Don Young.

After the anthrax attacks, which killed five people and sickened 17, the U.S. Postal service installed sensors to detect anthrax in mail processed through postal facilities around the country.

No anthrax has been detected in the mail since the 2001 attacks, but there have been endless false alarms that have shut down buildings and resulted in people being decontaminated for safe measure.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

John Giacalone Named Head of N.Y. FBI Counterterrorism Division

John Giacalone/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Agent John Giacalone is leaving the mothership at headquarters in D.C. and heading north to become special agent in charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office Counterterrorism Division.

Giacalone most recently served as the section chief of the Counterterrorism Division’s Domestic Terrorism Strategic Operations Section at FBI headquarters.

Giacalone is no stranger to New York.

In 1991, he was the case agent for an investigation into organized crime’s control of the airfreight industry at John F. Kennedy International Airport. That resulted in the indictment and conviction of seven members and associates of the Luchese crime family.

In 1994, Giacalone formed a task force consisting of FBI, Department of Labor and New York Police Department to investigate the Garment Center. The probe reuslted in the convictions of 15 organized crime members and associates, the FBI said.

In 2003, Giacalone created the Field Intelligence Group in Philadelphia. And in 2005, he was the deputy on-scene-commander in the Iraqi theater of operations.

There he coordinated the efforts of the FBI, the intelligence community, and the U.S. military, which resulted in the rescue of kidnapping victim Roy Hallums.

In 2008, Giacalone was a member of the Attorney General Guidelines Task Force. With the assistance of 10 supervisory special agents, he helped draft the FBI’s new domestic investigative policy.

Ala. Newspaper Editorial Calls Fed Prosecution in Ala. Incompetent

By The Daily Home
Editorial

Rather than settle any questions of guilt or innocence, the acquittals and mistrials returned last week in Alabama’s gambling corruption trial have only exacerbated mistrust of state government and the legal system.

What are we to make of a trial that charged nine people, including four state legislators, with 125 crimes, took 10 weeks of court time after months of FBI investigation, cost an untold amount of money and produced not a single conviction?

Given that three of the original defendants pleaded guilty and testified against the nine who were tried, one word comes to mind: incompetence.

Incompetence in the investigation that produced such flimsy evidence that federal prosecutors could not put together a convincing case against any of the accused, or incompetence in the prosecutors who bungled their presentation of the evidence available to them. Maybe both.

To read more click here.

Ouch! Feds Comes Up Empty in Big Ala. Gambling Trial (ticklethewire.com)