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Supreme Court to Hear Case of Cheney Back-Slap

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

As Herman Cain knows, it’s a fine line between a friendly pat on the shoulder and a little too much touching. Now, Steven Howards will find out the same.

On Monday the Supreme Court agreed to decide whether or not Howards can sue the Secret Service for denying his right to free speech when protecting then-vice president Dick Cheney during a 2006 incident in Colorado.

At a mall in Beaver Creek, Colo., a Secret Service agent said he heard Howards speaking into his cellphone, describing his plan to ask the vice president “how many kids he’s killed today,” according to the New York Times. Howards later approached Cheney, telling him his administration’s “policies in Iraq are disgusting,” then touched Cheney on the shoulder.

The shoulder tap has been variously described as a pat, a slap and a strike, which caused Cheney’s shoulder to dip, according to the Times. When agents confronted Howards he denied touching the vice president and said “if you don’t want other people sharing their opinions, you should have him avoid public places.” He was then arrested for assault and given to local authorities, charged with harassment–charges which were later dropped.

A federal district judge in Denver ruled that the suit against the agents could proceed.  A three-panel on the Court of Appeals subsequently reversed some of that ruling, saying that agents had a right to arrest Howards after he touched Cheney. Conversely, it ruled that the Howards’s claim for retaliatory arrest could  proceed to trial, saying his First Amendment rights may have been violated because agents could have been “substantially motivated” to take action against him based on his remarks, the Times reported.

The Supreme Court will now take on this touchy issue.

To read more click here.

Rep. Issa Announces Investigation into DEA Letting Money Flow to Cartels

By Allan Lengel and Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)is attacking Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. once again, this time for a DEA operation that allowed money to flow to the Mexican drug cartels.

In a press release issued Monday, Issa announced that he was investigating the matter, which was highlighted in a front page story in the New York Times on Monday.

In a letter to Holder, he said he had been investigating this “reckless tactics” in Operation Fast and Furious, and he was none too happy to see it being done with money “walking” to the cartels. ATF’s Fast and Furious operation encouraged gun dealers to sell to “straw purchasers” or middlemen, all with the hopes of tracing the guns to the cartels.

“The existence of such a program again calls your leadership into question,” Issa wrote in the letter to Holder. “The managerial structure you have implemented lacks appropriate operational safeguards to prevent the implementation of such dangerous schemes. The consequences have been disastrous.”

DEA agents have laundered or smuggled–or, “let walk”–millions of dollars in drug proceeds in an effort to trace the money to the end recipients, reports the New York Times. The DEA sought to understand how cartels moved their money, where assets were kept and, ultimately, who the leaders were. Money was put into trafficker accounts or shell accounts set up by agents, according to the Times.

The DEA said the operations began in Mexico only within the past few years, but similar operations have been used internationally before. The controversial tactic lets cartels continue their activities while the investigation is ongoing, and raises serious some questions about the agency’s effectiveness, diplomacy and Mexican sovereignty and the distinction between surveilling and facilitating crime, the Times reported.

Former DEA officials reject any comparison between the laundering operation and the gun-walking program Fast and Furious, saying that money poses far less a threat to public safety and can lead more directly to the top ranks of cartels, the Times reports.

Member of Michigan Militia That Plotted to Kill Cops Pleads Guilty

Hutaree members charged in case. Clough is pictured in the last photo on the right on the top row. /southern poverty law center photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A member of a southeast Michigan militia known as “Hutaree” pleaded guilty Monday to his role in a plot to use explosives against local and fed law enforcement, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Joshua Clough admitted guilt on the same day an FBI report on the group was released. The report concluded that the name “Hutaree” was made up by the son of a ringleader and had no meaning, the Free Press reported.

Clough was one of nine members charged in the case and accused of trying to overthrow the government.

To read the full story click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

 

 

FBI Search Airplane After Bomb Note Found in Bathroom

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

FBI Agents were summoned to Boston’s Logan Airport on Sunday as an inbound flight from London landed and a “suspicious note” mentioning a bomb was found by a flight attendent, reports Boston.com.

FBI agents, police and k-9 units searched the plane along with its 200 passengers and 16 crew members when the flight touched down at Logan Airport, according to State Police, though nothing was found.

Virgin Atlantic Airways Flight 11 arrived in Boston without incident at about 6 pm on Sunday

Trooper Thomas Murphy, a spokesman for the Massachusetts State Police, said authorities do not believe the bomb threat to be credible, but are investigating at the moment.

To read more click here.

 

How Far Does Free Speech Go For Agents of Law Enforcement?

istock photo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

It is a fundamentally American right to criticize one’s government, to speak out against wrongful policies–a patriotic act, some would say. But how much dissent is possible if one’s job is to enforce existing laws, whether one agrees with them or not? Legislative change is reserved for political channels, after all–not law enforcement.

A Border Patrol agent found out just how far that dissent can–or, rather, can’t–go, reports the New York Times.

Bryan Gonzalez, a retired police officer and ex-Marine, pulled his vehicle alongside another agent during a lull at their Deming, N.M. border station, and began venting about some of the job’s frustrations, the Times reported.

Gonzalez acknowledged remarking to the other agent that if marijuana were legal drug violence in Mexico would cease, then referenced the organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), which advocates for an end to the war on drugs.

That and remarks sympathetic to illegal immigrants were passed on along the chain all the way to Border Patrol headquarters in Washington, according to the Times, where the decision was made to let Gonzalez go. Mr. Gonzalez held “personal views that were contrary to core characteristics of Border Patrol Agents, which are patriotism, dedication and espirit de corps,” his termination letter read.

“More and more members of the law enforcement community are speaking out against failed drug policies, and they don’t give up their right to share their insight and engage in this important debate simply because they receive government paychecks,” Daniel Pochoda, the legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, told the Times. Pochoda is handling the case of Joe Miller, an Arizona probation officer who was fired after adding his name to a letter from LEAP.

Miller was one of a handful of federally employed signers of the letters; the rest were mostly retired law enforcement officials who were free from the boss’s reactions. LEAP began with “five disillusioned officers” in 2002, reports the Times, and has grown to include “145 judges, prosecutors, police officers, prison guards and other law enforcement officials, most of them retired,” who can speak free of reprimands, according to the Times.

“I don’t want to work at a place that says I can’t think,” said Mr. Gonzalez. He has since worked as a bouncer, a construction worker and a yard worker, and has considered going back to school and studying law. He filed suit in a Texas federal court in January. Defending the Border Patrol, the Justice Department has sought to have the case thrown out.

“We all know the drug war is a bad joke,” an anonymous veteran Texas police told the Times over the phone. “But we also know that you’ll never get promoted if you’re seen as soft on drugs.”

To read more click here.

 

 

Column: Ex-FBI Agent Coleen Rowley: Americans’ Rights at Risk

 

FBI Agent Coleen Rowley/ photo ia.ucsb.edu

By Coleen Rowley, former FBI Agent
ConsortiumNews.com

The political, military industrial, corporate class in Washington DC continues to re-make our Constitutional Republic into a powerful, unaccountable Military Empire.

The U.S. Senate has just voted 93 to 7 to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012, which allows the military to operate domestically within the borders of the United States and to possibly (or most probably) detain U.S. citizens without trial.

Forget that the ACLU called it “an historic threat to American citizens,” this bill is so dangerous not only to our rights but to our country’s security that it was criticized by the Directors of the FBI and the CIA, the Director of National Intelligence and the U.S. Defense Secretary!

For the first time in our history, if this Act is not vetoed, American citizens may not be guaranteed their Article III right to trial. The government would be able to decide who gets an old-fashioned trial (along with right to attorney and right against self-incrimination) and who gets detained without due process and put into a modern legal limbo.

To read more click here.

Fast and Furious Redux? DEA Launders Drug Money to Get to Mexican Cartels

Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Shades of Operation Fast and Furious?

DEA agents have laundered or smuggled–or, “let walk”–millions of dollars in drug proceeds in an effort to trace the money to the end recipients, reports the New York Times. The DEA sought to understand how cartels moved their money, where assets were kept and, ultimately, who the leaders were. Money was put into trafficker accounts or shell accounts set up by agents, according to the Times.

The DEA said the operations began in Mexico only within the past few years, but similar operations have been used internationally before. The controversial tactic lets cartels continue their activities while the investigation is ongoing, and raises serious some questions about the agency’s effectiveness, diplomacy and Mexican sovereignty and the distinction between surveilling and facilitating crime, the Times reported.

Former DEA officials reject any comparison between the laundering operation and the  gun-walking program Fast and Furious, saying that money poses far less a threat to public safety and can lead more directly to the top ranks of cartels, the Times reports.

To read more click here.

Ex-Chicago Cop Pleads Guilty to Crimes Involving Latin Kings Gang

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Another story from the city known for deep dish pizza, hot dogs and public corruption: a former Chicago police officer pleaded guilty Friday to a series of charges involving collusion with the violent Latin Kings street gang.

Antonio C. Martinez Jr., a 40-year-old former Chicago police officer, faces a possible lifetime sentence on charges including racketeering conspiracy; conspiracy to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana; robbery; and using a firearm while committing the crimes, according to a statement from the Justice Department.

A series of robberies committed between 2004 and 2006 were done under the direction of the Latin Kings, Martinez admitted. He used his status as a police officer to facilitate the robberies, many of which were committed against drug traffickers in the region. He also admitted to picking up and dropping off packages of cocaine multiple times for the gang.

Sentencing is scheduled for June 14.