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Justice Dept. Fights Back Against Attempts to Muzzle Holder and Others in Portland Terrorism Case

Eric Holder/doj photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department is fighting back attempts by defense attorneys to muzzle Attorney Gen. Eric Holder Jr. and other government workers when it comes to pre-trial comments in the terrorism case involving a teen who tried to detonate a bomb in Portland during a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in December. It ended up being an FBI sting.

Holder publicly defended the sting and subsequently the defense for Mohamed Osman Mohamud filed a motion to try and prevent pretrial comments, alleging that remarks could taint the case.

Responding to that motion, Portland Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ethan Knight and Jeffrey Sweet filed a brief Monday, saying:

“It is clear that the Attorney General’s remarks struck a proper balance between defendant’s due process rights and the need to inform the public on law enforcement actions.

“The need to inform the public was especially true with respect to sting operations, which although not new have garnered a lot of publicity in the context of this case and others like it.

“Based on the statements described above, defendant now seeks an Order from this Court prohibiting the Attorney General from making “inappropriate pretrial comments.” Defendant’s argument is predicated on the assumption that the Attorney General’s comments were, in fact, somehow inappropriate. They were not.

“As the chief law enforcement official for the United States government, it is entirely appropriate for the Attorney General to address issues of public concern in pending federal cases.”

Moreover, defendant has cited no precedent for the type of order he seeks, and we have found none.”

Read Government Filing

Column: We Must Stop Sociopaths Like Loughner From Getting Guns

Dan Simpson

By Dan Simpson
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

There is something seriously wrong with a country in which a mentally disturbed young man can buy a semi-automatic weapon and gun down a member of Congress, a judge, a 9-year-old schoolgirl and more than a dozen other innocent people in front of a shopping center.

It gets worse when there is an answer to the question, “How could we have known this was coming?”

The alleged killer, 22-year-old Jared Loughner, had appeared in advance of Saturday’s carnage in several forums where he could have been identified as trouble-in-the-making by figures with some responsibility for security.

The first was at Pima Community College. Security officers there had been called to the classroom a reported three times to remove Mr. Loughner for disruptive behavior. Particularly given the attack that occurred at Virginia Tech in 2007 by a student, with 32 killed, did it not cross their minds to call Mr. Loughner’s behavior to the attention of Arizona police?

To read more click here.

READER COMMENTS

Comment from Triggerdave | [e]
Time January 12, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Dan, Yours is the most cogent article I’ve read in many years although I don’t agree with your apparent position on gun control.
It appears that we the people failed ourselves both in Virginia and Arizona where I understand these States have legal recourse is in place to handle these situations. Regardless, if I as a teacher, student or parent observed such a suspicious activity (especially after the same situation at VT) I would have taken any action necessary to inform the authorities and get appropriate action taken. Come on people, open your eyes and protect yourself by speaking out about what you see and make someone in authority take the steps needed. Those who did complain allowed the bumbling authorities to shrug it off and go about their merry lives. It is those bumbling authorities who should now be fired if only as a notification to others to do their jobs!
Triggerdave is a 1966 graduate of VT, an NRA member with concealed carry permit, and grandfather of three under nine. I couldn’t bare what Christina’s family is going through. I realize that the shootings were probably too quickly performed for even the most highly trained security guard to prevent but had the bumblers taken action Loughner wouldn’t have been there.
My sincerest condolences to the victims and their families.

Hundreds of FBI Agents Investigating Arizona Shooting

Jared Loughner/pima county sheriff photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Days after the tragic shooting in Arizona, hundreds of FBI agents are tracing the steps of shooter Jared Loughner, trying to figure out motive, a timeline leading up to the incident and who he had been in contact with, NPR radio reports.

NPR reported that inside the bureau the investigation is known as a “bureau special”, which means agents from around the country are working the case.

The public radio station reported that Loughner isn’t talking.

“Usually in a case like this, agents will try to account for literally every day of a suspect’s life going back years,” Tom Fuentes, a former assistant director with the bureau told NPR. “Investigators will look for other possible associates, or any indication that someone might have talked Loughner into the attack. Even though it appears he was caught red-handed — in this case he was literally tackled at the scene — it helps the prosecution if there is a motive.”

Listen to NPR report

Border Patrol Agent Busted for Harboring Illegal Immigrants Including His Father

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A U.S. Border Patrol agent in San Ysidro, Calif., was busted Monday on charges of harboring illegal immigrants in his home including his father, who had been convicted of  marijuana possession for sale and was twice deported to Mexico, Fox5 San Diego reported.

The station, citing the FBI, reported that agent Marcos Gerardo Manzano Jr., 26, was arrested at the Imperial Beach Border Patrol Station.

On Tuesday, a federal SWAT team raided Manzano’s house and arrested suspected undocumented immigrant Jose Alfredo Garrido-Morena,26, the station reported. He had been living in the house since late last year along with Mazano’s 46-year-old father, authorities alleged.

The father, who is on the run, faces federal immigration violation charges, Fox5 reported. Manzano is also charged with lying to Border Patrol agents who asked about his father’s whereabouts.

Board Rules that Fired U.S. Park Police Chief Can Be Reinstated and Get 6 Years of Back Pay

Teresa Chambers

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewirecom

WASHINGTON — Patience and persistence has paid off for Teresa Chambers, who was fired as U.S. Park Police chief in 2004 in what turned into a highly controversial situation in the nation’s capital.

The Merit Systems Protection Board has ruled that she can have her job back, plus more than six years of back pay. It concluded that the evidence against her was weak, and that the Interior Department retaliated against her,  according to the ruling first reported by WTOP radio Tuesday.

WTOP reported that she was fired for publicly commenting to the media about budget problems and complaining about a staff shortage that was forcing her to cut back on patrols.

WTOP said that in 2004 the Park Service’s deputy director, Don Murphy, said Chambers’ broke the rules by commenting publicly about budget discussions and lobbying.

“In sum, we find that the agency’s evidence in support of its actions was not strong at the time it took the actions, the record demonstrates that the acting officials had a significant motive to retaliate against the appellant, and the agency did not show that it took similar actions against similarly-situated non-whistleblowers,” the merit board wrote in its ruling.

The Washington Post reported that her attorney, Paula Dinerstein, called the decision “a wonderful ruling, not only for Chief Chambers but for thousands who believe that honesty is part of public service.”

The Post reported that the National Park Service, which oversees the Park Police, was reviewing the ruling.

To Read more click here.

READ RULING BY THE MERIT SYSTEMS PROTECTION BOARD

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Mass. Man 2nd in Nation to Get Convicted of Pointing Laser at Aircraft

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A Massachusetts man, who became the second person in the country convicted of pointing a laser at an aircraft, was sentenced Monday in Boston federal court to three years in prison.

Gerard Sasso, 52, of Medford, Mass., was convicted of shining a powerful green laser beam into a State Police helicopter on Dec. 8, 2007 that was escorting a liquid gas tanker through Boston Harbor, authorities said. He then lied to law enforcement when questioned about it.

The incident happened around 9:15 p.m., the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. The laser was pointed in the cockpit, which then was  filled with a sparkling green light.

The pilots then began flying an “S” shaped pattern toward the beam to identify its source, authorities said. Eventually, pilots were able to determine the beam was likely coming from the window of Sasso’s third floor apartment on the Medford/Somerville line, authorities said.

Officers responded to Sasso’s apartment and interviewed him, and he lied about pointing the laser, authorities said.

But officers noticed a laser pointer on his bedside table and he subsequently admitted he did it. Police recovered 11 lasers fro his apartment, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

“This sentence should send a strong message that interfering with an aircraft in any way will result in aggressive prosecution and stiff sentences,” said U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. “Such actions endanger lives and disrupt air travel, and will not be tolerated.”

Ex-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay Gets 3 Years in Prison; Remains Free On $10,000 Bond

Ex-Rep. Tom DeLay

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The once powerful U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who had been under FBI investigation in  connection with the Jack Abramoff scandal,  but was never charged,  was sentenced  in state court Monday in Austin, Tex., to three years in prison for a scheme in which he illegally helped funnel corporate contributions to Republican Texas legislative candidates, the Associated Press reported.

AP reported that DeLay remained defiant to the end, denying wrongdoing. He was jailed for three hours before he posted a $10,000 bond. He will remain free pending an appeal that could potentially take years.

“Everything I did was covered by accountants and lawyers telling me what I had to do to stay within the law,” the ex-House majority leader said in court. “I can’t be remorseful for something I don’t think I did.”

AP reported that Senior Judge Pat Priest disagreed with DeLay, saying those who write laws should be bound by them.

DeLay had been convicted in November of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money launder for using a political action committee to illegally send corporate donations to Texas House candidates in 2002, AP reported.

The FBI and Justice Department had investigated DeLay in connection with the Jack Abramoff scandal. DeLay was never charged, but two of his political aides pleaded guilty in the case.

Column: Guns and Responsibility

Eugene Robinson

By Eugene Robinson
Washington Post

WASHINGTON — We may not be sure that the bloodbath in Tucson had anything to do with politics, but we know it had everything to do with our nation’s insane refusal to impose reasonable controls on guns.

Specifically, the rampage had everything to do with a 9mm semiautomatic Glock pistol – a sleek, efficient killing machine that our lax gun laws allowed an unstable young man to purchase, carry anywhere and ultimately use to shoot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in the head. The weapon also was used to shoot 19 bystanders, killing six of them, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl.

The accused gunman, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner, appears to be deranged. But this fact does not automatically absolve the politicians, partisan activists and professional loudmouths who spew apocalyptic anti-government rhetoric full of violent imagery.

To read more click here.