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News Story

Ex-Bush Officials Say It’s a Mistake to Limit Terrorism Cases to Military Trials

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ex-Bush officials are stepping up to say that it’s not a good idea to limit terrorism trials to just military tribunals — something some Republicans are pushing for.

The New York Times reports that ex-Bush officials feel limiting the trials to military tribunals would weaken the government’s hand.

“This rush to military commissions is based on premises that are not true,” John B. Bellinger III, a top legal adviser to the National Security Council and the State Department under President George W. Bush told the Times. “I think it is neither appropriate nor necessary to limit terrorism cases to either military commissions alone or federal trials alone.”

For Full Story

Calif. Man Charged With Taking Exams for Foreign Students From Such Nations as Saudia Arabia and Kuwait

ICE shows evidence of fraudulent tests/ice photo

ICE shows evidence of fraudulent tests/ice photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

An Orange County, Calif. man has been charged with running a massive visa fraud scheme that involved taking exams for students from counties like Saudia Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Kuwait, Turkey and Qatar so they could maintain their lawful immigration status, authorities said Monday.

Eamon Daniel Higgins, 46, of Laguna Niguel, Calif., was charged with one count of conspiring to commit visa fraud.

Authorities alleged that Higgins and associates took college classes, exams and placement tests in exchange for money. He charged up to $1,500 to complete final examinations and other classroom work and $1,000 for English proficiency exams.

On Monday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested 16 foreign students linked to the probe, authorities said. Six were arrested for committing visa fraud and 10 were arrested on administrative immigration violations.

“Visa fraud poses a significant security vulnerability and undermines the integrity of our nation’s legal immigration system,” Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary John Morton who oversees ICE said in a statement. “As this case shows, we will move aggressively to identify and prosecute those who engage in fraud and corrupt the immigration process for profit.”

Column: Justice Dept. Should Be More Transparent About Its Lawyers Who Represented al Qaeda Suspects

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder/doj photo

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder/doj photo

By Marc A. Thiessen
Washington Post Op-Ed

Would most Americans want to know if the Justice Department had hired mob lawyers and then put them in charge of mob cases? Of course. They would rightly want their elected representatives to find out who these lawyers were and what roles they were playing at Justice.

Yet Attorney General Eric Holder hired former al-Qaeda lawyers to the Justice Department and has resisted providing Congress basic information.

In November, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee requested that Holder identify officials who represented terrorists or worked for organizations advocating on their behalf, the cases and projects they worked on before joining the administration, the cases and projects they’ve worked on since, and name officials who have recused themselves because of prior work on behalf of terrorist detainees.

Holder stonewalled.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

White House Tries Again to Get Someone to Head TSA

Airport crowdBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

After the first nominee went down in flames, President Obama is once again trying to fill the top spot at the Transportation Security Administration, which watches over our airports.

The White House on Tuesday nominated Robert A. Harding, saying he has spent more than 35 years working in the intelligence community.

Most recently, he served as CEO of Harding Security Associates (HSA), which he founded in 2003 and sold in July 2009, the White House said.

The White House initially nominated former FBI agent Erroll Southers, but his nomination got embroiled in controversy on Capital Hill. He January he withdrew his name.

In a press release on Harding, the White House said: “Before entering the private sector, General Harding completed 33 years in the US Army, where he served in progressively challenging command and staff assignments. He retired as the Army’s Deputy G2 (Intelligence) in 2001.”

Read more »

Daughter of Missing Retired FBI Agent Robert Levinson Pleads for Help in Open Letter

Robert Levinson

Robert Levinson

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The engaged daughter of an ex-FBI agent who vanished in 2007 while visiting an island off Iran, issued an open letter to the U.S. and Iran pleading for help.

“As you know, my father, Robert “Bob” Levinson, has been missing in Iran since March 9th, 2007, when he disappeared from Kish Island while investigating cigarette smuggling,” Sarah Levinson  wrote in a letter posted on a website dedicated to her father. “I am writing to remind you that my family and I need him home now, and we are pleading for you to do whatever is in your power to make that happen, as we know you can.”

Later in the letter, she writes: “Today, I beg of you to help bring him home as I personally need him more than ever. Last month, my boyfriend of 4 1/2 years asked my mother and brother for my hand in marriage, and as should be every daughter’s right, I need my father to give me away at my wedding.

Sarah Levinson with fiance Ryan/father's website
Sarah Levinson with fiance Ryan/father’s website

“In almost every culture around the world, the father of the bride is a critical role in the wedding ceremony, coming second only to that of the bride and groom themselves. A father walking his daughter down the aisle and giving her away to her new husband is a tradition as old as marriage, symbolizing a daughter leaving her family to start a new life with her spouse.”

To read full letter click here.

FBI Impersonator Picks the Wrong Home (Gets ticklethewire.com Hot Dog Award)

hot dogBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

In the spirit of the Academy Awards comes the Hot Dog Award — and it goes to Santiago Contreras.

Authorities say he impersonated an FBI agent with a search warrant and tried to talk his way into a home in Middletown, N.Y., according to a police press release.

Problem was it was the home of the Middletown Police Chief Ramon Bethencourt, according to the Times Herald-Record.

Santiago Contreras/police photo

Santiago Contreras/police photo

The paper says Contreras  knocked on the door at 9:18 a.m., said he was with the FBI, flashed ID and a sheet of paper and said he had a search warrant to search the house.

The paper said the chief asked to see the ID again and Contreras left. He was arrested nearby with plastic gloves and a homemade plastic shank.

Authorities said he picked the house at random, the paper reported.

Coyote Hunter Accidentally Kills U.S. Forest Service Officer in Georgia

Ex-U.S. Army Ranger Gets 20 Years For Trying to Murder Fed Prosecutor in Seattle

seattle-map1By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Former U.S. Army Ranger Luke Sommer should have done the math before he committed the crime.

A federal judge in Seattle handed Sommer a 20-year sentence on Monday for offering an undercover FBI task force officer up to  $20,000 in a prison visitors’ area to kill the assistant U.S. Attorney in his bank robbery case. He was also fined $25,000.

Sommer’s offer to pay the agent came just months after he was sentenced to 24 years for bank robbery. Now he’ll serve 44 years. Authorities said the additional 20-year-sentence was not only for the attempted murder but for also using a knife in prison to attack a co-defendant in his bank robbery case.

Read more »