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Critics Still Skeptical of “War on Toner” Involving Terrorism

By Zack Cohen

WASHINGTON —  It’s being satirically dubbed the“war on toner,” a phrase that reflects experts’ skepticism about the U.S. response to al Qaeda’s failed bid to blow up U.S. bound planes with explosive-packed ink cartridges.

In other words, the response is  hardly sufficient, some experts insist.

“In typical TSA fashion [the measures] are reactionary,” said Kevin McCarthy, a consultant to the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Institute. “We already know what we can find and what we cannot find and we are not very good at it,” he said. We need to “look for the intelligence, the trigger, the other parts of the equation.”

Specifically, the U.S. has banned all ground cargo from Yemen and Somalia and  adapted new rules for inbound cargo  to reflect the latest intelligence. No high-risk cargo will be allowed on passenger aircrafts and toner and ink cartridges over 16 ounces are banned from checked and carry on luggage from domestic and international flights bound for the U.S.

There are plenty skeptics who scoff at the idea that limiting the size of an ink cartridge will do much good when it comes to fending off a terrorist attack.

And  implementing more intensive measures along those lines will only create a false sense of security, according to Chris Battle, a former deputy for the Department of Homeland Security.

For one, he said, the perception that the government is catching everything could result in  focusing too much on technology and not enough on intelligence gathering and risk assessment.

“The U.S. Congress seems to be the only entity in the world that thinks you can adequately screen 100 percent of all cargo coming into and leaving the country,” Battle said. “It should be remembered that the explosives were not detected by technology but through intelligence.”

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DEA Busts Retired Chicago Cop for Allegedly Helping Violent Drug Organization

By Allan Lengel

The DEA has arrested a retired Chicago cop on charges he provided information and lied for a drug organization involved in murder, kidnapping, robbery and narcotics distribution, authorities announced Tuesday.

Authorities arrested Glenn Lewellen, a Chicago cop from 1986 to 2002, who allegedly provided information about ongoing federal investigations into the drug organization known as as the “Rodriguez Enterprise”, according to the indictment.

Rodriguez and the other five defendants previously charged were arrested in April 2009 when they allegedly conspired to steal hundreds of kilograms of purported cocaine from a warehouse in southwest suburban Channahon, authorities said.

In all, the superseding indictment charged Lewellen and nine others.

The feds arrested Lewellen, 54, of Las Vegas, in Las Vegas on Friday, authorities said.

He was charged with racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to distribute cocaine, but  was not involved in two alleged murders involving other defendants, authorities said.

But he was charged with participating in a 2003 kidnapping and robbery of 100 kilograms of cocaine and cash, authorities said.

Authorities alleged that Lewellen obstructed justice to protect and conceal the Rodriguez Enterprise’s illegal activities, including testifying falsely in a federal criminal trial in December 1999.

Authorities said this past May, after learning of the false testimony, fed prosecutors got the judge to release a prisoner and vacate the charges.


Critics Question Appointment of FBI Agent to Run Terrorist Explosive Center

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — The FBI has appointed veteran agent Rafael J. Garcia to run its Terrorist Explosives Device  Analytical Center (TEDAC) , but some critics say there are people more qualified for the job, reports Jeff Stein’s Spy Talk column in the Washington Post.

Spy Talk writes that Garcia, who has been with the FBI for about 15 years, “may be a very fine man, but veteran bomb experts are complaining that he comes to the new job without any first-hand experience with explosives.”

Spy Talk writes that critics say the selection isn’t a bad reflection on Garcia, but rather the FBI’s selection of managers. Some critics say the job should have gone to Greg Carl, head of the FBI’s explosives unit for the past eight years.

FBI spokesman Michael Kortan told Spy Talk Garcia “was selected as TEDAC Director because of his proven record of effective leadership within the FBI and among other government partners in the military and intelligence communities.”

Garcia had “experience in Iraq with IEDs,” Kortan told Spy Talk and a “distinguished record in the intelligence field.”

To read more click here.

Reader Comments

Comment from Bill McCrory | [e]

Time November 23, 2010 at 4:24 pm

So send him to the HDS Basic course. He needs enough HDS training to enable him to understand the technologies and interact with those who are specialized (“experts”), but his main function will be to administer the unit. He’s not going to be doing RSPs. Being a tech does not guarantee administrative, leadership, and management competence.

Wall Street’s New Sheriff: NY U.S. Atty Preet Bharara — A Bruce Springsteen Fan

U.S. Atty. Preet Bharara/doj photo

By Shira Ovide
Wall Street Journal

Hey, hedgies, better brush up on Preet Bharara’s CV and predilections. The U.S. Attorney for Manhattan is looking like the new Sheriff of Wall Street–-and he’s a Springsteen fan, to boot.

Bharara’s office, along with the FBI and the SEC, are closing in on an insider-trading case that could ensnare a wide swath of bankers, investor consultants, hedge funds and mutual-fund traders, The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend.

Investigators in part are looking into the role played by the cottage industry of industry consultants and analysts who give hedge funds and mutual funds an in-depth look into industries.

The wide-ranging probe stemmed from Bharara’s focus on insider trading. Bharara may not be a household name, but he made his bones taking on organized crime in New York, and more recently has tackled investigations into Bernie Madoff, the Galleon insider trading probe and the arms merchant known as the “Merchant of Death.” Wall Street isn’t so tough by comparison.

To read more click here.

San Fran Feds Won’t Retry Man Who Sent Racist, Threatening Email to President

Haskell was upset about Obama's election

w.h. photo

By Allan Lengel

Fed prosecutors in San Francisco have decided on Monday not to retry a man who was charged with threatening to kill President Obama via email, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The decision came after a jury on Nov.1 deadlocked in a 6 to 6 vote on whether the racist and violent email was a threat or an empty rant, the Chronicle reported.

The paper reported that U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel of San Francisco ordered defendant John Gimbel released from custody after fed prosecutors decided not to retry him.

Gimbel, 60, of Crescent City Del Norte County,Calif. was arrested after sending an e-mail in September 2009 to Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and several news organizations, the paper reported.

The paper said the subject line stated “Kill the ‘president’ ” and the message was filled with profanity and racial epithets.

FBI Raids Hedge Funds in What Promises to Be Big Wall Street Scandal

By Allan Lengel

The big Wall Street folks with lots of money could soon be trading in those $3,000 tailored wool suits for orange jumpsuits in what promises to be a full blown, major scandal.

F.B.I. agents on Monday raided offices of three hedge funds as part of an escalating probe into insider trading on Wall Street, the New York Times reports.

The hedge funds include Level Global Investors of New York and Diamondback Capital Management of Stamford, Conn., Loch Capital Management of Boston.

“We are conducting court-authorized search warrants as part of an ongoing investigation,” said N.Y. FBI spokesman Richard Kolko in a statement. “The matter is sealed. We have no further comment.”

To read more click here.

IG Report Cites Fed Court Security Concerns About Training and Broken Equipment

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — Walk through any federal courthouse and it seems security is pretty tight.

Still, a Justice Department Inspector General report on courthouse security says federal judges and personnel could be at risk because of poor training, questionable contracts and broken security equipment, the Washington Post reports.

The Post’s Ed O’Keefe writes that the Justice Department report found “multiple district offices failed to detect mock explosive devices sent to them in February 2009 by agency officials as part of a test of local security procedures.”

The report  also said three unnamed federal district court chief judges expressed serious concerns about security procedures, the Post reported.

Jeff Carter, a Marshals spokesman, said the agency worked with the inspector general’s office on the investigation and is making changes recommended by investigators.

“We take these responsibilities seriously and realize there is always room for improvement and continue to make great strides in our efforts to protect the federal judiciary,” Jeff Carter, a Marshals spokesman told the Post via e-mail. “The Marshals Service is proud of our ability to ensure the safe and secure conduct of judicial proceedings.”

To read more click here.


Head of TSA John Pistole Says Evaluating Security Methods at Airport

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