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Former Leaders of FBI, DEA Urge Stricter Privacy Laws in GPS Tracking

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The tension between effective law enforcement and personal privacy is always present to some degree, but has certainly intensified in the decade following 9/11.

Now, a bipartisan group including former FBI and DEA leaders are calling for new safeguards to protect individuals’ personal privacy.

The Constitution Project, a D.C.-based think tank, is calling for limit’s on law enforcement uses of GPS and other tracking technologies, reports the Associated Press.

A report released by the think tank urges that a search warrant be required for any GPS surveillance lasting more than 24 hours, and that the specific use of GPS devices being applied secretly to a suspect’s car require a warrant from the get-go. In the past few years reports have surfaced of FBI agents secretly placing GPS tracking units under the bumper’s of individual’s cars, such as an animal rights activist and an Arab-American student.

The GPS tracking debate is “one instance of the much broader problem of regulating new technology,” said Patricia Wald, of the Constitution Project and the former chief judge on the federal appeals court in Washington.

The White House maintains that warrants would hamper law enforcement investigations and, because the surveillance monitors movements made in public, they are not needed, according to the AP. The latter would presumably not apply to the secretive installing of tracking units on citizen’s cars.

Among the members of the committee that produced the report is Asa Hutchinson, who ran the DEA under President George W. Bush. “As the former head of the DEA, I understand the need for tracking bad guys, being able to secretly monitor a suspect’s movements. But this is a good balance between the needs of law enforcement and privacy issues,” Hutchinson said, according to AP.

The report comes as the Supreme Court is set to consider the issue in November.

To read more click here

 

Admin. Wants to Shut Gitmo By 2012 Presidential Elections

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr./doj file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The controversial Guantanamo Bay is still in the crosshairs of the administration.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday in a speech before the European Parliament that the administration hopes to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, before the 2012 presidential elections, Politico reported.

“We will be pressing for the closure of the facility between now and then — and after that election, we will try to close it as well,” Holder said. “Some people have made this a political issue without looking at, I think, the real benefits that would flow from the closure of the facility.”

To read more click here.

 

What the Heck is Up With IHOP? FBI Agents Raid 7 of its Restaurants

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

What the heck is up with IHOP?

Earlier this month, a deranged gunman walked into a Carson City, Nev. IHOP and opened fire.

Now the Associated Press reports this week that FBI agents executed search warrants at six IHOP restaurants in northwest Ohio and one in Indiana.

AP reported that the IHOPs were Evansville, Ind., and the others are in the Toledo area.

The Toledo Blade reported that agents carried away boxes of documents.

Authorties said the raids involved the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service and Homeland Security investigations through U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

AP reported that a spokesman for IHOP’s parent company, DineEquity, told the Evansville Courier and Press the company is cooperating and was told the investigation does not involve terrorism.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

 

 

$16 a Muffin: IG Report Finds Justice Dept. Over Spent at Conferences on Food and Beverages

By PETE YOST
Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Muffins: $16 apiece. Coffee: more than a dollar an ounce. Snacks: $32 per person.

A report issued Tuesday by the Justice Department’s inspector general found excessive spending on food and beverages in an audit of 10 department conferences.

Justice spent about $490,000 on food and beverages at the conferences — more than 10 percent of the $4.4 million total cost of the events.

In response, the Justice Department concurred with the IG’s recommendations to more closely monitor costs.

To read more click here.

Read report

Ex-Bolivian Drug Chief Busted by DEA Seeks Leniency

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

If a counternarcotics official from another nation profits from trafficking cocaine into the United States, but has a clean criminal record otherwise, should a judge go lenient at sentencing?

That’s what Rene Sanabria is hoping. Sanabria headed a Bolivian drug intelligence unit, but was arrested earlier this year by the DEA in Panama when agents posed as Colombian drug lords. The DEA says he and others helped move thousands of dollars worth of cocaine into Miami. Sanabria pleaded guilty in Miami and is now seeking leniency.  The penalty for the charges ranges from a minimum of 10 years to life, reports the Associated Press.

His attorney lawyer thinks his client should get less than the 10 year minimum, AP reported.

Sanabria denies using his government affiliating to aid in the trafficking.

Sentencing is set for Friday.

Dick Cheney Diplomatically Criticizes U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald.

Patrick Fitzgerald/doj photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Former V.P. Dick Cheney isn’t always known for his diplomacy or finesse.

But Monday he was more careful than usual when it came to voicing his opinion. Usually he’s not so circumspect.

But he was when asked about Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald who prosecuted Cheney’s  Scooter Libby for perjury and obstruction of justice in the leak investigation into the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

Radio station WBEZ reports that Cheney, who appeared Monday at the Union League Club of Chicago as part of his book tour, paused for nine second when asked about Fitzgerald.

“I obviously had some fundamental disagreements with him at one point in the past,” Cheney said.

Cheney called Libby a “very good man” who “did not deserve what happened to him.”

Libby was convicted on four of five felony counts. In 2007, he was sentenced to 30 months in prison, but President Bush subsequently commuted his 30-month sentence.

 

Head of Chicago FBI Says al-Qaida Still Obsessed With Planes; Office is Probing Mail Bombs


Robert Grant/fbi photo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

A decade later and it appears that al-Qaeda members are still trying to turn airplanes into deadly weapons.

“Al-Qaida has been obsessed with airplanes, they continue to be obsessed with airplanes,” said Robert Grant, head of the Chicago FBI., according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “They want to use airplanes to kill people. … It continues to be a desire on their part to bring a plane down.”

Grant also disclosed publicly for the first time that Chicago investigators have been looking into international terrorism plots involving mail bombs sent on Chicago-bound flights from over seas. In October of last year the devices were found hidden in printer cartridges pulled from flights in England and the United Arab Emirates following a tip, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Sent from Yemen, the packages “were addressed to former Chicago area synagogues bearing the names of historical figures as a way to stick it in their eyes,'” reports the Sun-Times.

“The person who built that bomb still remains at liberty, somewhere in Yemen,” Grant said in an appearance before the Niagra Foundation in Chicago, according to the Sun-Times. “He has been hunted for a long time, but he is a very, very skilled bomb-maker.” Officials believe al-Qaeda’s Yemeni branch are responsible for the plot, according to the Sun-Times.

Investigators said last year that they found links between the Chicago-bound explosives and the one intended for use by the “underwear bomber” in Detroit.

To read more click here.

FBI’s JTTF in D.C. Will Be Among Those Honored at ADL Awards Ceremony


fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Members and partners of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in the Washington Field Office, who were involved in a sting that targeted a plot to blow up the Washington area subway system in 2010, will be among those honored Oct. 4 in Washington at the Anti Defamation League’s  second annual SHEILD Awards.

The ADL,  a Jewish organization which bills itself as “one of the nation’s oldest and most respected civil rights and human relations organizations”, created the SHIELD Awards in 2010 to honor law enforcement for protecting the American people from hate crimes and domestic and international terrorism.  ADL works closely with agencies like the FBI and ATF to expose hate groups and their activities.

The ADL anticipates  about 300 law enforcement professionals and community leaders will attend the event.

“Through these Awards, we hope to increase public awareness of the dedication and values of the men and women of law enforcement”  Elise Jarvis, ADL’s Associate Director for Law Enforcement Outreach said in a statement. “They transform the principles of our democracy into a reality. They can never be thanked enough for their service.”

Besides members the FBI’s JTTF, others honored will include:

Members of the Baltimore Police Department and the Office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City for the investigation and prosecution of three individuals who assaulted 76-year-old African American man in a hate crime in 2009.

Special Agent Michael Tarantino of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Unit, who in 2009 identified, located, and arrested a high ranking Argentinean Police official who was wanted for committing war crimes during the Argentinean Dirty War.

Members of the Virginia Beach Police and Fire Departments for preventing a domestic terrorist attack at a local high school, which was scheduled to occur on April 20th, 2009, the 10th anniversary of the Columbine Massacre.

ADL said the awards were determined by a Selection Committee of 18 law enforcement executives, including chiefs of police and other law enforcement officials from D.C., Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina.