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Supreme Court to Hear Case Against Ex-Atty. John Ashcroft

John Ashcroft/doj photo

John Ashcroft/doj photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court agreed Monday to examine an interesting issue regarding the aggressive 9/11 practices of the Bush Administration: Can a U.S. citizen who claims he was illegally detained sue former attorney general John D. Ashcroft?

The Washington Post reports that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Abdullah al-Kidd, a one-time University of Idaho football star who converted to Islam in college, can proceed with his suit that personally holds Ashcroft liable for his detention.

Ashcroft is claim immunity,  and the Obama administration, which is representing him, is asking that the suit be dismissed.

Al-Kidd was headed to Saudi Arabia to study when he arrested at Dulles International Airport in 2003, the Post reported, adding that he was held 15 nights in three states under the federal material-witness statute. He was never charged.

Al-Kidd believes his arrest was part of a bigger plan by the Bush administration to round up Muslims who did not have ties to terrorism.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Mexican Cartels Beefing Up U.S. Presence

US Mexican borderBy William Booth and Nick Miroff
Washington Post Foreign Service

SAN DIEGO — When a major Mexican drug cartel opened a branch office here on the California side of the border, U.S. authorities tapped into their cellphones – then listened, watched and waited.

Their surveillance effort captured more than 50,000 calls over six months, conversations that reached deep into Mexico and helped build a sprawling case against 43 suspects – including Mexican police and top officials – allegedly linked to a savage trafficking ring known as the Fernando Sanchez Organization.

According to the wiretaps and confidential informants, the suspects plotted kidnappings and killings and hired American teenage girls, with nicknames like Dopey, to smuggle quarter-pound loads of methamphetamine across the border for $100 a trip. To send a message to a rival, they dumped a disemboweled dog in his mother’s front yard.

But U.S. law enforcement officials say the most worrisome thing about the Fernando Sanchez Organization was how aggressively it moved to set up operations in the United States, working out of a San Diego apartment it called “The Office.”

To read more click here.

4 Men Convicted in Plot to Bomb NY Synagogue and Shoot Down Military Planes

bronx-imagesBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Four men were convicted Monday by a federal jury in an FBI sting in which they plotted to bomb a synagogue and Jewish community center in the Bronx and fire missiles at military planes, authorities announced.

Defendants Onta Williams, Laguerre Payen, James Cromitie and David Williams IV — face up to life in prison.

The defense claimed they were entrapped by an FBI informer who worked undercover, an argument the jury of six women and five men apparently rejected after eight days of deliberation.

“Homegrown terrorism is a serious threat, and today’s convictions affirm our commitment to do everything we can to protect against it,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. “The defendants in this case agreed to plant bombs and use missiles they thought were very real weapons of terrorism. We are safer today as a result of these convictions.”

Read Press Release

Read NY Daily News story

Homeland Security Warns of Mexican Hit Squads in Arizona

Mexico border mapBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

More signs of the Mexican drug cartels reaching into the U.S.:

The Washington Times reports that the Department of Homeland Security is warning Arizona authorities that Mexican drug gangs have sent assassins or “sicarios” into the state to kill bandits who are ambushing and stealing loads of cocaine, marijuana and heroin,

A Homeland Security memo, which  first circulated in May, said a group of “15, very well-equipped and armed” assassins complete with body armor had been sent into the state to carry out the executions.

To read more click here.

FBI Reports 48 Law Enforcement Officers Slain in 2009; Up 7 From Year Before

Slain Border Parol Agent Robert Rosas Jr

Slain Border Patrol Agent Robert Rosas Jr

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Forty eight law enforcement officers in 2009 were either shot and killed or hit by cars that were used as weapons, up by seven from the previous year, the FBI said Monday.  Additionally, 47 died in accidents while on the job.

One of those slain in 2009 was  U.S. Border Patrol Agent Robert Rosas Jr., 30. He was shot and killed at 9 p.m. on July 23 while following a group of suspicious people near Campo, Calif. A 17-year-old was sentenced to 40 years in prison for the shooting.

The FBI also reported that 57,268 officers were assaulted in the line of duty in 2009.

Of the law enforcement officers killed in violent acts, the average age was 38 and the average time on the job was 12 years, the FBI said. All but one of the victims was male; 42 were white, 3 black, 2 American Indian/Alaskan Native and one Asian/Pacific Islander.

Of the 48 killed, 15 were ambushed; 8 were killed during arrest situations; 8 were killed while performing traffic stops; 6 while answering disturbance calls; 5 during tactical situations (e.g., high-risk entry); 4 while investigating suspicious persons/circumstances; and two while handling, transporting or maintaining custody of prisoners.

Additionally, 45 of the 48 were killed by firearms and three by vehicles that were used as weapons, the FBI said.

Geographically, 23 occurred in the South, 13 in the West, 7 in the Northeast and 5 in the Midwest. Two of the deaths took place in Puerto Rico.

Thirty-three of the assailants had prior criminal records, and 13 of the assailants were under judicial supervision at the time.

Ex-FBI Veteran James Wagner to be Named Inspector Gen. of Ill. Tollway

tollwayBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Life after the FBI comes in many forms.

James Wagner,67, former head of the Chicago Crime Commission and a 31-year veteran of the FBI, is expected to be named to the newly created post of inspector general of the Illinois Tollway on Monday, the Chicago Tribune reported.

In January, Wagner was named chief of investigations for the Illinois Tollway. From 2000 to 2005, he headed up investigations for the Illinois Gaming Board.

Wagner’s job will be to probe allegations of fraud, waste and corruption involving employees, officials and contractors.

Column: Pres. Obama’s Comments May Unfortunately Reflect Attitude Toward DEA

Allan Lengel

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — President Obama is a busy guy with a lot of worries. So he might be excused when he commits a little Washington faux pas as he did during a town hall meeting last week with young people.

While discussing  “federal drug enforcement”, he mentioned the Justice Department and FBI, but not the  DEA,the lead agency in the war on drugs.

“We have to figure out who is it we’re going after because we’ve got limited resources,” he said. “So decisions that are made by the Justice Department or FBI about prosecuting drug kingpins versus somebody with some small amount, those decisions are made based on how can we best enforce the laws that are on the books.”

In many ways, it was not big deal. But the comment rubbed some folks at DEA the wrong way. Plus, agents felt it was reflective of the administration’s overall attitude toward the DEA.

“I don’t think he’s given any thought to the DEA,” one agent told me. “We’ve become an afterthought, the stepchild when it comes to the FBI and Justice Department.”

So frankly, you can’t be totally dismissive of those sentiments.

For one, Michele Leonhart, the acting head of the agency, was nominated by the president in February, but has yet to be confirmed. To boot, she’s been acting head of the agency since 2007.  The absence of a confirmation is unsettling for some in the agency.

With Mexico raging out of control, and  the cartels tentacles reaching far into the U.S., the DEA may not be   the agency the administration wants to short change — and that also means when it comes to giving a shoutout publicly about federal drug law enforcement.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Atty. Gen. Holder Vows to Go After Pot Even if Calif. Voters Approve Prop 19

holder eric

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The pot thing just keeps getting more confusing and complex.

Attorney Gen. Eric Holder Jr. has vowed to “vigorously enforce” federal marijuana laws even if Californians  vote next month to legalize pot with Prop 19, the Associated Press reports.

Holder’s comments were contained  in a letter to ex-federal drug enforcement chiefs, AP reported.

The letter did raise questions as to what extent authorities would crack down on small time users and dealers and whether resources were available to even do that, AP reported.

Still Holder wrote:

“We will vigorously enforce the CSA against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacture or distribute marijuana for recreational use, even if such activities are permitted under state law.”