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Detroit Free Press Editorial Calls For Elimination of Disparity in Crack Cocaine Sentences

file photo/dea

file photo/dea

The Detroit Free Press
Editorial Page

DETROIT — Members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously this week to narrow the unconscionable sentencing disparities between crack and powder cocaine. The notorious 100-1 ratio has no basis in science, while hitting poor people and African Americans especially hard. Along with other mandatory drug sentencing policies enacted in the mid-1980s, it helped triple the nation’s prison population.

Unfortunately, the watered-down Senate bill only narrows the disparities to roughly 20-1. Legislators need to strengthen this bill before sending it to the president. If disparities are baseless and socially egregious, why not just eliminate them?

Crack, usually purchased in rock form and smoked, is more frequently used by black and poor people. Powder cocaine is more often used by whites. Most states, including Michigan, rightly treat crack and powder cocaine the same. They are essentially the same drug in different forms; federal law should treat them accordingly. Under a policy Congress enacted in 1986, a drug offender caught with only 5 grams of crack cocaine gets a mandatory minimum sentence of five years. It takes 500 grams of powder cocaine to get the same stretch.

To read more click here.

3 People Linked to U.S. Consulate in Mexico Killed in Drive-by Shooting

map_ciudad_juarezBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The White House got another reminder this weekend of the impact  drug-cartels have on the border towns of Mexico.

CNN reports that a drive by shooting in the border town of Ciudad Juarez on Saturday resulted in the deaths of three people connected to the U.S. Consulate.

The network reported that one victim was an American employee at the consulate and that another victim was the husband of that employee. The third person was the husband of a Mexican employee of the consulate.

“The President is deeply saddened and outraged by the news of the brutal murders of three people associated with the United States Consulate General in Ciudad Juarez,” National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer said in a statement Sunday.

To read more click here.

New D.C. Attorney Machen Has Potential Headache on His Hands: Office Reviews Faulty FBI Analysts Info in Cases

D.C. nominee Ronald Machen
U.S. Atty.  Ronald Machen

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The District’s U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen has a potentially big  headache on his hands.

The Washington Post reports that Machen’s office “has found more than 100 cases since the mid-1970s that need to be reviewed because of potentially falsified and inaccurate tests by FBI analysts.”

That information, the paper reports, was included in a report filed Friday in D.C. Superior Court, the city’s criminal court.  An internal review was triggered as a result of the wrongful imprisonment of Donald E. Gates, who was exonerated in December because of new DNA evidence. He had serving 28 years for the 1981 rape and slaying of a Georgetown University student that he never committed.

The initital review of 20 cases found that only Gates’ case was impacted by the misinformation. But Justice came up with 100 more cases, the paper reported.

Of those 100, the paper reported that the U.S. Attorney’s Office conducted a preliminary review of 78 and found no misconduct. The paper reported that no findings have been presented for the other 22 cases thus far.

For Full Story

Parking Garage Fire Quickly Extinguished at FBI Headquarters

fbi headquarters2By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — A fire in a trash compactor in the parking garage at FBI headquarters on Saturday around 12:15 p.m. was quickly extinguished, the Associated Press reported.

D.C. fire department spokesman Pete Piringer told the AP that the fire was not suspicious.

The headquarters is located at 935 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, several blocks from the Capitol.

OTHER WEEKEND STORIES OF INTEREST

Weekend Series on Crime History: MLK’s Assassin James Earl Ray

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bZ-Vdhnno8

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6u98z9MiwY

FBI Says Online Fraud Doubled in 2009 to $559.7 Million

pirate-cyber-theft
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Fraudulent crime on the Internet doubled in dollar value in 2009 compared to the year before, according to a report by the Crime Complaint Center, a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center.

The report released Friday by the FBI showed that the total loss resulting from online fraud amounted to $559.7 million last year compared to $265 million in 2008.

The report said the number one fraud involved advance fee schemes using the FBI’s name. That accounted for 16.6 percent of the scams. The second most reported offense involved non-delivery or merchandise or failing to make a payment.

“Law enforcement relies on the corporate sector and citizens to report when they encounter on-line suspicious activity so these schemes can be investigated and criminals can be arrested,” Peter Trahon, section chief of the FBI’s Cyber Division said in a statement. “Computer users are encouraged to have up-to-date security protection on their devices and evaluate e-mail solicitations they receive with a healthy skepticism—if something seems too good to be true, it likely is.”

Donald Brackman, director of the White Collar Crime Center  said criminals are “developing increasingly sophisticated means of defrauding unsuspecting consumers. Internet crime is evolving in ways we couldn’t have imagined just five years ago.”

To Read the full report click here.

Atty. Gen. Holder Failed to Disclose Briefs During Confirmation Hearing Last Year

Atty. Gen. Holder

Atty. Gen. Holder/doj photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Attorney Gen. Eric Holder Jr. is finding out just how fun it can be to head the Justice Department when some politicians want your head.

The New York Times reported Thursday that Holder failed to notify the Senate last year during the conformation hearings that “he had signed several briefs urging courts to reject President George W. Bush’s claim that he had the power to imprison an American citizen as an “enemy combatant,” the Justice Department acknowledged Thursday.”

The Times reported that Republicans are likely to attack Holder over failing to turn over the documents as he was required to do.

“The briefs should have been disclosed as part of the confirmation process,” said Matthew Miller, a Justice Department spokesman, according to the Times. “In preparing thousands of pages for submission, it was unfortunately and inadvertently missed. In any event, the attorney general has publicly discussed his positions on detention policy on many occasions, including at his confirmation hearing.”

Meanwhile, on Friday the news website Main Justice that Holder turned over to the Senate half a dozen Supreme Court briefs he failed to disclose.

“We regret the omission,” Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich said in a letter accompanying the list of amicus briefs not included in Holder’s Senate questionnaire, as required, according to Main Justice.

Read NY Times Story

Read Main Justice Story

Brian Lamkin Named Head of FBI’s Atlanta Office

Brian Lamkin/fbi photo

Brian Lamkin/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Brian D. Lamkin, assistant director of the FBI Training Division in Quantico, has been named special agent in charge of the FBI’s Atlanta office.

Lamkin entered the FBI in February 1987 and was first assigned to the Norfolk Division. Three years later, he headed south to the Dallas Division, where he worked on the Dallas Bank Fraud Task Force, which addressed the largest savings and loan failure crisis in U.S. history, according to the FBI.

In May 1997, he was promoted to supervisory special agent in the Financial Institution Fraud Unit at FBI Headquarters.

Read more »