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Fed Judge Rules the Govt. Illegally Wiretapped Islamic Charity and 2 Lawyers

telephoneBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — A San Francisco federal judge on Wednesday ruled that the government illegally wiretapped phone conversations of an Islamic charity and two American lawyers without a search warrant, the Associated Press reported.

AP reported that U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker found the plaintiffs provided evidence to show “they were subjected to warrantless electronic surveillance.”

The ruling was regarded as a repudiation of the Bush Administration’s  Terrorist Surveillance Program, the AP reported.

The ruling was in response to a suit challenging the program filed by the Ashland, Ore., branch of the Saudi-based Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation and two American lawyers Wendell Belew and Asim Ghafoor, the AP reported.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

“One of a Kind” James Cavanaugh –Head of ATF’s Nashville Office — Retires

James Cavanaugh/photo by atf's carolyn wallace

James Cavanaugh/photo by atf's carolyn wallace

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

During his colorful career with ATF, which spanned more than three decades, James Cavanaugh found himself in the thick of some of nation’s biggest cases: The D.C. sniper murders, the Unabomber, white supremacist Eric Rudolph, church burnings and the deadly shootout at the Branch Davidian in Waco, Tex. involving leader David Koresh.

“Ninety-nine percent of him thought he was David Koresh, but the 1 percent of him really knew he was Vernon Wayne Howell, just a two-bit thug from the country in Texas,” said Cavanaugh, special agent in charge of the ATF Nashville office, commenting on Koresh during a lengthy interview in October 2009 with ticklethewire.com. He was one of the negotiators during the standoff.

On Wednesday, Cavanaugh, a New Jersey native who kept his Jersey street sense about him while acquiring a Southern charm during his many years working in the south, retired from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after 33 1/2 years. He’s reached the mandatory retirement age of 57.

His retirement party is Thursday night in Nashville where he headed the ATF office for 12 years.

“Jim is one of a kind, all the way from this ability to do the job, to his passion for the mission and his professionalism,” said Mark Potter, special agent in charge of the ATF Philadelphia office. “He’ll create a huge void in the organization.”

Read more »

Feds Probe Shenanigans at Baltimore Docks

There’s a lot of commerce that flows through the bustling docks of Baltimore. And there’s a lot of shenanigans as well. Baltimore City Paper investigative reporter Van Smith takes a look at some of the questionable activity the feds are probing.

docks2

By Van Smith
Baltimore City Paper

BALTIMORE — The International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA), the nation’s largest union of maritime workers with some 43,500 members stationed along U.S. and Canadian coasts, has deep roots in Baltimore.

Baltimore native Richard Hughes Jr. has been its president since 2007, and he is also the business agent for ILA Local 953, based in Locust Point. Del. Brian McHale (D-46th District), who represents Baltimore’s waterfront in the state House of Delegates, is on Local 953’s roster as a steamship clerk. One of the ILA’s vice presidents, Horace Alston, heads the union’s Baltimore District Council. He and former ILA general vice president John Shade are trustees of Baltimore’s ILA Local 333.

But amid the well-connected ILA members in Baltimore, one longshoreman in particular raised the union’s profile recently: Milton Tillman Jr.

A politically connected ex-con and real-estate investor who is the dominant force in Baltimore’s bailbonds industry, Tillman Jr. is also a member of ILA Local 333. On March 17, a federal indictment charging Tillman Jr. and his son, Milton “Moe” Tillman III, with tax fraud, wire fraud, and unlawful bailbonds practices, was unsealed (“Milton Tillman and Son Indicted in Bailbonds Conspiracy,” The News Hole, March 17). It includes charges that Tillman Jr. was paid for unloading ships at Baltimore’s docks on shifts when he was in Brazil, Argentina, Spain, and Las Vegas, among other places.

To read full story click here.

Judge Approves $3 Million Payout to Ex-DEA Agent, But Chastises Government For Failing to Punish Anyone

Judge Lamberth

Judge Lamberth

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Ex-DEA Agent Richard Horn may have been quite happy when the government agreed to pay him $3 million late last year to settle a lawsuit in which he claimed the CIA spied on him and illegally wiretapped his conversations while he was stationed in Burma in 1993.

But  U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth of  Washington is none too happy and chastised the government in an opinion issued Tuesday for failing to punish anyone in the matter.

“Now this court is called upon to approve a $3,000,000 payment to an individual plaintiff by the United States, and again it does not appear that any government officials have been held accountable for this loss to the taxpayer,” Lamberth wrote in an opinion in which he approved the settlement. ” This is troubling to the Court.”

The government was able to invoke a “state secret privilege”. By doing so, it agreed to pay the ex-DEA agent $3 million, but not admit to wrongdoing. It also avoided airing government secrets.

“As to the allegations of wrongdoing that form the basis of Horn’s claims, while the government makes no admission of wrongdoing in the settlement, the Court is persuaded that the government must have at least found them credible to pay the plaintiff $3,000,000 to settle the case,” the judge wrote.

Lamberth asked the Attorney General whether the case will be referred to the Inspector General for internal investigation.

Read Opinion

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

State Dept. Officer Recalled From Africa After Secret DEA and State Dept. Documents Found

What the heck was State Dept. worker Reginald Hopson doing with secret documents about DEA investigations and classified State Department cables he wasn’t supposed to have?

top-secret

By Jeffrey Anderson
Washington Times

WASHINGTON — Reginald Eugene Hopson, a 30-year State Department foreign service officer, was summoned back to Washington from South Africa in October, stripped of his top-secret security clearance and questioned by federal investigators, records show.

He was an information management specialist and pouch control officer who processed classified information at U.S. embassies in Bolivia, Trinidad and Tobago, and South Africa. His interrogators wanted to know about a raft of classified documents found in his possession — documents they said he had no business having.

The documents included a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) file on a confidential undercover operation and eight classified State Department cables, two of which related to intelligence matters and national defense.

To read full story click here.

Head of Detroit FBI Said Mainstream Militias Were “Appalled” With Christian Militia Members

FBI's Andy Arena/ticklethewire.com photo

FBI's Andy Arena/ticklethewire.com photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Andrew Arena, the head of the Detroit FBI, said Tuesday that other mainstream militias have distanced themselves from the nine members of the Christian militia in the Midwest who were indicted for plotting to kill law enforcement members.

“I honestly think they don’t believe the same things this group does,” Arena told  ticklethewire.com. “I think they were appalled.”

In fact, there were media reports that  a mainstream militia member went to the FBI after the Christian group came to him for help.

“It’s true, he did,” Arena said.

Arena said he didn’t believe the Michigan-based Christian militia Hutaree is a very big organization. He said different   people have  trained and met with them, and some have come and gone.

Read more »

About 1,000 FBI Agents To-Be Visit the Holocaust Museum Each Year For Training

fbi photo

fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The old saying goes: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

The FBI, pointing to a lesson in history when power corrupted, has been taking about 1,000 special agents each year from the FBI Training Academy to the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington as part of a lesson on “what can happen when law enforcement loses sight of what is right,” according to a story posted on the front page of the FBI website. The program has been going on for 10 years.

The “Lessons of the Holocaust” is a joint partnership between the Anti-Defamation League and the museum. The ADL often works closely with the FBI.

“It makes our people think about morality, ethics, and how to maintain those during turbulent times,” FBI special agent Douglas B. Merel, who teaches the Academy’s ethical leadership course for new agents that includes the museum program, said in the FBI story. “It shows how important it is for law enforcement to maintain their core values.”

The story goes on to talk about a recent 4-hour visit on a Friday morning by about 50 agents-to-be and how they talked about what separates them from the law enforcement officers in Germany during the Nazi era.

“It’s really our hope that the law enforcement officers who come to the museum see this program, see this history, and really reflect on their professional core values and their role in society today,” Marcus A. Appelbaum, who coordinates the museum’s community and leadership programs, said in the story.

FBI Sees No Copycats in the Christian Militia Case

Christian militia suspects/southern poverty law center

Christian militia suspects/southern poverty law center

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The FBI has issued a bulletin to local police saying there’s sympathetic chatter on the Internet regarding the arrests of  the Christian militia members, but no indication of copycats, the Associated Press reported.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit  on Monday unsealed an indictment charging nine members of a Michigan-based Christian militia called Hutaree who were allegedly plotting to kill law enforcement officers to try and spark a government revolt.

Six of the members were from Michigan, two from Ohio and one from Indiana.

The indictment comes nearly 15 years after the Oklahoma City bombing of the federal building. Two of the defendants in that case — Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols — had ties to Michigan.

The  1995 bombing stirred keen interest in law enforcement, which took a hard look at the Michigan militias and some of the strong anti-government sentiment in the rural America.

The Southern Poverty Law Center says it saw a 244 percent jump in new anti-government Patriot Groups in 2009. It said the number of groups went from 149 (including 42 militias) to 512 (127 of them militias) in 2009.

“We are in the midst of one of the most significant right-wing populist rebellions in United States history,” Chip Berlet, a veteran analyst of the American radical right, wrote earlier this year. according to an article in the Southern Poverty Law Center web page. “We see around us a series of overlapping social and political movements populated by people [who are] angry, resentful, and full of anxiety. They are raging against the machinery of the federal bureaucracy and liberal government programs and policies including health care, reform of immigration and labor laws, abortion, and gay marriage.