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Former Secret Service Agent Alfred Wong Who Supervised Installation of Taping System in Nixon White House Dies at Age 91

Secret-Service-Badge
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Alfred Wong, a former Secret Service official who reportedly oversaw the installation of the taping system at the Nixon White House, and whose job at one point was to prevent the White House from being bugged, died last week of mesothelioma, a form of cancer, the Washington Post reported. He was 91.

Wong, of Potomac, Md., spent 24 years in the Secret Service before retiring in 1975 as deputy assistant director in charge of White House security, the Post reported.

Wong told USA Today in 1994, because his job was to prevent bugs from being installed in the White House, he was reluctant to install the tape recording system ordered by Nixon, the Post reported.

“My first response was that we shouldn’t do it, but then it was that we have to do it,” Wong told USA Today. “They wanted it done surreptitiously.”

Of course, the rest is history. The tapes ended up harming Nixon.

After leaving Secret Service, Wong was Marshal of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1976 to 1994, where he served as general, paymaster and chief security officer, the Post reported.

Qatar Diplomat Scares the You Know What Out of Everyone Aboard DC-to-Denver Flight: No Joke

united
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — First lesson: if you’re going try your hand at humor on a plane — better it be funny, than scary.

The Associated Press reported that something went wrong on United Flight 663 from Washington-to-Denver Wednesday night when a diplomat from Qatar, who has lived in the U.S. for years, tried to sneak a smoke in the bathroom.

The AP reported that an official said the man “made a joke about it” after being confronted, which only alarmed people more on the Boeing 757 with 157 passengers and six crew members.  AP did not specify what the joke may have been, but there were some reports implying it could have related to lighting a shoe.

Authorities said no explosives were found and it appeared the man was not trying to harm anyone, AP reported.

Nonetheless, an air marshal, who apparently didn’t get the humor, restrained the man. No joke. ABC identified him as Mohammed al Modadi.

And there was another not-so funny moment. AP reported that fighter jets were scrambled, but the plane landed safely in Denver. Law enforcement was interviewing the man.

Maybe as a real joke, the State Department can expell the man from the U.S.

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FBI Arrests S.F. Man for Threatening Calls to Speaker Nancy Pelosi

house photo

house photo

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

WASHINGTON — The FBI arrested a San Francisco man this afternoon for allegedly making dozens of threatening phone calls to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over health care reform, the latest in the backlash against lawmakers who supported the legislation.

Gregory Giusti, 48, was arrested around 12:15 p.m. and was scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in San Francisco at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Patti Hansen, a spokeswoman for the FBI in San Francisco, told AOL News.

Hansen said the charges were under seal, and, therefore, she could not comment on them.

“We take threats against elected officials very seriously,” she said.

To read more click here.

Key FBI Official Arthur Cummings Retiring: Head of FBI Memphis Office Coming to Washington

nsb_logo_med
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON —    A key FBI official,  Arthur M. Cummings II, executive assistant director for the FBI’s National Security Branch at headquarters– which includes weapons of mass destruction, counterintelligence and counterterrorism — is retiring soon to work for a financial institution in Connecticut.

Cummings, who has been an agent for 22-years, had served in his latest position since January 2008. Over the years, he held a number of posts in the FBI including special agent in charge of the Counterterrorism and Intelligence Branch at the Washington field office.  He is former Navy Seal and speaks Mandarin Chinese.  His replacement has not been announced.

In other developments in the FBI, Memphis’ top FBI agent My Harrison, who has headed the office for the past five years,  is moving to Washington to take over as as deputy assistant director for the FBI’s Security Division, which includes FBI background checks and building security, authorities said. Her replacement in Memphis has not been announced.

The Ghost of Crooked Lobbyist Jack Abramoff Rears its Head: Another Guilty Plea

Jack Ambramoff/ msnbc

Jack Ambramoff/ msnbc

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The ghost of crooked lobbyist Jack Abramoff continues to rear its head in this town which once treated him as a king — that is before he became radioactive and went off to prison.

The latest came Wednesday when Horace M. Cooper, 44, of Lorton, Va., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Washington to taking gifts from lobbyists Abramoff and Neil G. Volz, who had clients with business before the Department of Labor where Cooper was chief of staff for Employment Standards Administration from 2002 to 2005.

Cooper admitted concealing the gifts — sports and concert tickets and dinners — from the Labor ethics officials and his supervisors.

Authorities say Cooper also admitted that he lied to the FBI and a grand jury about the gifts and his relationship with the lobbyists. He faces up to one year in prison and a maximum $100,000 fine when sentenced.

To date, 19 people including lobbyists and public officials have pleaded guilty, were convicted or are awaiting trial in connection with the shady activities of Abramoff and his associates, the Justice Department said.

Abramoff pleaded guilty in 2006 to conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, honest services fraud and tax evasion and is serving a four year sentence. Volz pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and was sentenced in 2007 to tow years probation.

Calif. Woman Gets 7 Years in Huge TV Auction Art Scam

Pablo Picasso probably would not have been flattered.

Pablo Picasso probably would not have been flattered.

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but not in the art world — particularly when it means duping unsuspecting collectors.

Kristine Eubanks, 52, of La Canada, Calif., was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles to seven years in prison for selling through a televised auction fake art by such legends as Picasso, Dali and Chagall, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

U.S. District Judge Gary A. Feess, during sentencing, called the multimillion-dollar fraud scheme “audacious in its scope” and “blatantly illegal.”

Kristine Eubanks, 52, is serving time for what a judge called an “audacious” scheme to sell forged pieces of art like this fake Marc Chagall painting.

Authorities charged that the scam was run through a company called Fine Art Treasures Gallery, which operated an art auction on Friday and Saturday nights on DirectTV and the Dish Network from 2002 to 2006.

To read more click here.

Big Names Like Catherine Zeta-Jones Submit Letters to Fed Judge on Behalf of Actor Mike Douglas’ Son in DEA Case

Letter from Catherine Zeta-Jones

Letter from Catherine Zeta-Jones

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Convicted drug dealer Cameron Douglas, son of actor Mike Douglas and grandson of Kirk Douglas, has rounded up plenty star power to try and convince a federal judge to go easy on him at sentencing on April 14 in New York.

Cameron’s grandfather Kirk Doulgas, his step-mother Catherine Zeta-Jones and NBA legend Pat Riley submitted letters to the judge on Cameron’s behalf, asking for leniency. The letters were filed in federal court.

In January, Douglas, 31,  pleaded guilty to selling large quantities of methamphetamine and cocaine while staying at Hotel Gansevoort, a trendy Manhattan hotel. He was busted by the DEA.

Letter from Kirk Douglas

Letter from Kirk Douglas

In the court filings,  Zeta-Jones told the sentencing judge Richard M. Berman in a handwritten letter that her stepson had a “disease” with drug abuse and is a “caring, considerate, worthy human being, but never the less, the disease, that for years, he has tried to combat did take over again. What is wrong, is wrong, but may all these positive attributes prevail, so that a facility that he is positioned in will help rehabilitate him.”

Grandfather Kirk Douglas wrote :

“Cameron was always a pleasant guy who cared for others. It was a surprise to me when he got in trouble. It wasn’t a surprise to me to find out that Cameron had natural talent as an actor. I remember when he played a part in the movie with Michael and me. He was a natural. We were so proud.

“I am convinced that Cameron could be a fine actor and a person that cares for others. I hope I can see that happen before I die. I love Cameron.”

Number of Nightmare Stories on “No Fly List” Likely to Rise

The U.S. is expanding the “no fly list” in response to the attempted bombing on Christmas Day to improve security. The downside is there’s likely to be a growing number of nightmare stories like the one Rahinah Ibrahim experienced. Unfortunately, there’s too many already.

noflylist

By Mike McIntire
New York Times

Rahinah Ibrahim, a Stanford University doctoral student, arrived at San Francisco International Airport with her 14-year-old daughter for a 9 a.m. flight home to Malaysia. She asked for a wheelchair, having recently had a hysterectomy.

Instead, when a ticket agent found her name on the no-fly list, Ms. Ibrahim was handcuffed, searched and jailed amid a flurry of phone calls involving the local police, the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security. Two hours after her flight left, Ms. Ibrahim was released without explanation. She flew to Malaysia the next day.

But when she tried to return to the United States, she discovered that her visa had been revoked. And when she complained that she did not belong on a terrorist watch list, the government’s response came a year later in a form letter saying only that her case had been reviewed and that any changes warranted had been made.

Every year, thousands of people find themselves caught up in the government’s terrorist screening process. Some are legitimate targets of concern, others are victims of errors in judgment or simple mistaken identity.

Either way, their numbers are likely to rise as the Obama administration recalibrates the standards for identifying potential terrorists, in response to intelligence failures that let a would-be bomber fly to Detroit from Amsterdam last Christmas.

To Read full story click here.

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