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U.S. Park Police Probe Whether Its Officers Improperly Provided Escort for the Infamous Salahis

N.H. U.S. Atty. Declines to Pursue Criminal Charges in Craigslist Killing

markoffBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Hampshire found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing involving the store which sold a gun to the suspected Craigslist killer Philip Markoff, the Boston Globe reported.

Federal prosecutors had explored the possibility of filing criminal charges against the State Line Gun Shop in Mason, N.H., which sold the gun to  Markoff, a medical student, who used fake identification of someone who supposedly looked like him, the Globe reported.

Markoff, who committed suicide Sunday while in prison awaiting trial for the killing of Julissa Brisman, a masseuse, who he met through Craigslist.

“This office is not looking into this issue,” Donald Feith, an assistant US attorney in New Hampshire told the Globe.

Brisman’s family has been calling for federal authorities to investigate the gun dealer for allegedly not confirming Markoff’s identification.

Transportation Security Administration Supervisor Pleads Guilty to Stealing Items From Luggage

airport-people-walkingBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It’s bad enough airline customers have to pay to check in luggage. But to have to pay and then have things stolen from the luggage.

Well, former Transportation Security Administration supervisor Randy Pepper pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court in Seattle to stealing $20,000 in jewelry and other items from checked luggage at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, the Associated Press reported.

AP reported that Pepper was fired in July 2009 after a TSA worker saw him remove items from luggage. Pepper pawned the items, AP reported.

Pepper is set to be sentenced in November. The AP reported the guideline range is six months to one year in prison.

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Lawyer Says Justice Dept. Dropping Probe of Ex-House Leader Tom DeLay

Ex-Rep. Tom DeLay

Ex-Rep. Tom DeLay

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — It doesn’t look like the Justice Department will be filing any criminal charges against former House leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex).

Mike Allen of Politico reports that the Justice Department is dropping its six-year probe into Delay and his ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Allen attributed his information to DeLay’s lead attorney Richard Cullen.

“The federal investigation of Tom DeLay is over and there will be no charges,” Cullen told Allen. “This is the so-called Abramoff investigation run by the Public Integrity section of DOJ. There have been a series of convictions and guilty pleas since 2005. A campaign-related charge against him continues in Texas.

“In 2005, we voluntarily produced to the prosecutors over 1,000 emails and documents from the DeLay office dating back to 1997. Several members of Congress objected to producing official government records under Speech or Debate Clause concerns. DeLay took the opposite position, ordering all his staff to answer all questions. He turned over more than 1,000 documents, and several of his aides gave interviews and grand jury testimony.”

DeLay still faces state charges in Texas of money laundering.

Border Patrol Agent Suicides Spike

Border PatrolBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Something is seriously ailing the U.S. Border Patrol.

The Associated Press reports that the agency has seen the biggest spike in suicides among agents in at least 20 years.

The news service reported that at least 15 agents have committed suicide since February 2008. It said few left notes.

“Federal officials insist the deaths have nothing to do with the agency, which has doubled in size since 2004, or the increasingly volatile U.S.-Mexico border,” AP wrote.

“But administrators have quietly undertaken urgent suicide-prevention initiatives, including special training for supervisors, videos about warning signs and educational programs for 22,000 agents nationwide.”

FBI Defends itself in Unsolved Civil Rights-Era Murders

Michael Kortan (left) talking to ex-FBI Dir. Louis Freeh in 2008/fbi photo

Michael Kortan (left) talking to ex-FBI Dir. Louis Freeh in 2008/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — From time to time, the FBI publicly shoots back when criticized in the press. Saturday in the Washington Post was one of those moments.

Michael Kortan, chief spokesman for the FBI, fired off a letter to the editor in response to an Aug. 8 op-ed columny by Emery University journalism professor Hank Klibanoff who criticized the FBI and Justice Department for doing far too little to help solve 109 murders in the south in the 1950s and 1960s that appeared to be racially motivated.

Kortan wrote: “It would be wrong to conclude that a lack of publicity equals a failure to investigate murder cases in the South in the 1950s and ’60s that appeared to be racially motivated. For example, in one case the FBI has completed more than 70 interviews, deployed an undercover agent and used our laboratory to evaluate evidence.

Hank Klibanoff/ univ. photo

Hank Klibanoff/ univ. photo

“Prosecuting decades-old crimes involves significant challenges. Many of the crimes represent a violation of state, not federal, law. Accordingly, six cases have been referred to state authorities. And prosecution is not the sole measure of success.

In more than 50 of these cases, the identified suspect is dead. To date, 36 letters were hand-delivered by FBI agents to the victim’s next of kin detailing the investigation’s findings. This is a significant accomplishment that we hope provides a measure of closure to these families.”

Klibanoff,  managing editor of the Civil Rights Cold Case Project, wrote: “Justice and the FBI have not, on their own, generated a single case from the list of 109, or from many other murders in their voluminous files.”

“Every case that Justice has successfully prosecuted has been the result of work by investigative reporters. The killers of Medgar Evers; the four little girls in the Birmingham church; Vernon Dahmer; Ben Chester White; and Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman would not have been prosecuted and convicted without the discoveries made by reporter Jerry Mitchell of the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss.”

To read Klibanoff’s column click here.

Washington Post Editorial: Mexico Drug War Going Badly and U.S. Looking Other Way

mexico-border-signThe Washington Post
Editorial Page

WASHINGTON — Give Mexican President Felipe Calderon credit for honesty as well as courage. Last week he presided over a three-day public conference to assess the results of nearly four years of war against Mexico’s drug cartels. Most of the facts were grim:

— According to the chief of the national intelligence service, 28,000 people have died violently since Mr. Calder?n deployed the Mexican army against the drug gangs in December 2006. That number represents an increase of 3,000 over the death toll the government reported earlier this summer.

— There have been 963 incidents involving federal forces and the gangs since the offensive began — or just about one per day.

— Mexican authorities have seized more than 84,000 weapons, including thousands of high-powered assault rifles, grenades and other military-caliber equipment. More than 80 percent of the guns whose provenance could be traced came from the United States.

To read more click here.

U.S. Atty. Fitzgerald’s Star Reputation on Line in Blago Trial

Patrick Fitzgerald/doj photo

Patrick Fitzgerald/doj photo

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

When he announced the charges in late 2008, Chicago’s U.S. attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald, came at Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich with all the bravado of Eliot Ness going after Al Capone in the movie “The Untouchables.”

He told a throng of reporters that Blagojevich had embarked on a “corruption crime spree” and added, with a touch of the melodramatic, that the Democratic governor’s crimes “would make Lincoln turn over in his grave.” Blagojevich responded by hitting the talk show circuit, calling the charges unfounded and criticizing Fitzgerald.

Now, 20 months later, Fitzgerald’s bravado and stellar reputation are being tested in the public corruption trial of Blagojevich. After 12 days of jury deliberations, the outcome seems more uncertain than ever.

On Thursday, the jury informed U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel that they had reached agreement on just two of 24 counts, and that they could not reach a decision on 11. To boot, they said they hadn’t even gotten to the other 11 counts of wire fraud. The judge directed them to keep deliberating. The jury took Friday off and returns Monday.

To read full story click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST