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Michele Leonhart Finally Gets the Final Nod to Head DEA; Senate Vote Was Unanimous

Michele Leonhart

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — After serving as acting head of the DEA since November 2007, Michele Leonhart finally got confirmed as the permanent leader of the agency.

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday night unanimously voted to confirm Leonhart, making her the 10th administrator in the DEA’s history, the agency said.

Leonhart is the first female DEA Special Agent to rise through the ranks of the agency to become its Administrator and the second woman to lead the DEA, the agency said. She joined the agency in 1980.

“I am extremely humbled and honored to have the opportunity to continue to lead the world’s premier drug law enforcement organization,” Leonhart said in a statement after the Senate vote.

“I am dedicated to meeting the challenges that DEA faces, from disrupting and dismantling extremely violent Mexican based drug cartels; to defeating narco-terrorists operating in Afghanistan and around the world; and doing all we can to reduce prescription drug abuse, our nation’s fastest growing drug threat.”

“I applaud the unanimous confirmation of Michele Leonhart, and agree with the strong bipartisan consensus validating her proven qualifications and effectiveness to lead the Drug Enforcement Administration,” said Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Leonhart’s long-term status as “acting” head of the agency became a point of irritation to some current and former agents. They felt the White House didn’t care enough about the DEA to address the issue.

Whatever the case, a number of people offered laudatory words.

Margaret Moore, president of Women in Federal Law Enforcement (WIFLE) remarked: “We are confident that the newly confirmed Administrator will uphold the finest traditions of DEA and provide the constant guidance and leadership for this outstanding law enforcement agency.”

Ex-Atty. Gen. Mukasey Asks White House to Release Convicted Spy Jonathan Pollard

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Former U.S. Atty. Michael Mukasey, who came to the Justice Department at the tail end of the Bush administration, is asking the White House to commute the sentence of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard to time served, the Jerusalem Post reported.

In a letter to President Obama, Mukasey, a former federal judge,  wrote that Pollard, who was found guilty of spying for Israel”has not been alleged by anyone to have had any motive to harm the United States. In these circumstances, a life sentence can only be considered utterly disproportionate to the crime.”

“I had occasion myself to consider life sentences, and indeed to impose them. In more than 18 years on the bench, I imposed such sentences on four defendants,” Mukasey wrote.

Ex-Atty. Gen. Mukasey/doj photo

Pollard’s wife Esther Pollard  told Israel Radio that Pollard has been in poor health as of late.

Pollard, a former civilian intelligence analyst, was  handed a life sentence in 1987 for spying.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

FBI Challenge: Is the Calif. Geezer Bandit Wearing a Mask?

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Ex-FBI Agent Convicted in Las Vegas of Voluntary Manslaughter

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A Las Vegas jury on Tuesday convicted retired San Diego FBI special agent Edward Preciado-Nuno of voluntary manslaughter with use of a deadly weapon in the death of his son’s girlfriend, the Las Vegas Sun reported.

The Clark County District Court jury, which deliberated for about five hours, found Edward Preciado-Nuno, 63, guilty in the November 2008 death Kimberly Long. She was found dead in his son’s garage with several blunt force trauma wounds,the Las Vegas Sun reported.

The jury was told a claw hammer was used in the assault and that Long was defending herself. The defense claimed that Preciado-Nuno was attacked first and had been trying to diffuse a toxic relationship between Long and his son.

Preciado-Nuno was taken into custody. Sentencing is set for Feb. 23.

To read more click here.

Lawyers in Portland Terrorism Case Want Atty. Gen. Holder to Shut Up

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Eric Holder Jr./ticklethewire.com file photo

Lawyers for a Somali-born teen charged in a plot to blow up a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Portland want Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. to keep his mouth zipped.

Reuters news service reported that the lawyer for Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, filed a seven-page motion Monday saying Holder’s comments about the case could prejudice the potential jurors. Holder defended the FBI’s tactic in the sting and said the teen was not entrapped.

Reuters reported that the motion sought a court order  “prohibiting the attorney general from engaging in inappropriate pretrial comment.”

“The attorney general’s remarks go far beyond the fact of the indictment and any legitimate policy issues, instead discussing the merits of Mr. Mohamud’s case,” the motion states, according to Reuters.

The Justice Department in Washington said in a statement Tuesday, according to Reuters, that the agency’s “comments have been appropriate and entirely consistent with our filings in court. We will answer the motion in court and look forward to trying the case there.”

To read more.

Arrest of Author of Pedophile Guide Book Raises Legal Issues

Phillip Greaves/provided by Polk Co. Sheriff. Dept.

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

Down in central Florida, in a county that has regularly voted Republican in presidential races, the First Amendment guarantee of free speech is bumping up against allegations of obscenity over a highly controversial guidebook to pedophilia.

“I think there’s some room for debate,” said Lyrissa Lidsky, a professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law who specializes in First Amendment issues. “The case raises potentially fascinating issues.”

For one thing, she said, “obscenity” is defined by local community standards. But she said a case like this could end up before the Supreme Court, where some justices have expressed a willingness to examine whether, in the age of the Internet, the community standard should go far beyond local.

The controversy began when Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd — outraged that no one was doing anything — directed his detectives to go undercover and order a book titled “The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure: A Child-lover’s Code of Conduct.” The book was self-published by a man named Phillip R. Greaves II of Pueblo, Colo., and was briefly sold on Amazon but was removed following protests.

To read more click here.

Right Wing Talk Show Host Gets 33 Months for Threatening Lives of 3 Fed Judges

Hal Turner/msnbc photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It took three tries to convict right wing  Internet radio talk show host Hal Turner of threatening the lives of  three Chicago federal appeals judges over their decision to uphold a ban on handguns. But now he’s off to prison.

U.S. District Judge Donald Walter on Tuesday sentenced Turner in Brooklyn federal court to 33 months in prison followed by six months of home confinement after his release. The first two trials ended in a mistrial after jurors deadlocked.

Turner, 48,  was charged in June 2009 for writing Internet postings proclaiming “outrage” over the handgun decision by U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook and Judges Richard Posner and William Bauer and wrote: “Let me be the first to say this plainly: These Judges deserve to be killed.”

His postings included photographs, phone numbers, work address, and room numbers of these judges. It also included a photo of the building they worked in and a map with its location, authorities said.

He was charged with threatening to assault and murder three federal judges with intent to retaliate against them for performing official duties. All three judges testified at the trial in August.

“The criminal justice system simply could not function if an individual’s efforts to intimidate a judge through threats of violence were protected from prosecution and punishment,” said Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald.

“We live in a system where judges should be able to do their jobs and not have to look over their shoulders.”

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Critics Say Justice Dept. May Be Gun Shy Going After Lawmakers

Lanny Breuer says Justice Dept. not gun shy

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Is the Justice Department losing its nerve to go after Congress members?

The New York Times reports that critics feel that way in wake of the dismissal of some high profile probes into members of Congress like Sen. John Ensign (R-Nevada) and Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.).

“They’re gun-shy,” J. Gerald Hebert, the executive director of the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan group that seeks greater disclosure of how money influences politics, told the Times.

But Jack Smith, chief of the Public Integrity Section at the Justice Department, and his supervisor, Lanny Breuer, the assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division, disputed that, according to the Times.

“It’s just not the case that anyone is gun-shy,” Breuer told the Times. “If a case cannot be brought, it’s because we’ve taken a hard look and made the determination that this case cannot be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. And with all due respect to those outside the department, they haven’t seen the evidence. They don’t know the materials, and we’ve looked at it all.”

To read more click here.