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Threats Against Nation’s Judges and Prosecutors Rise Sharply

U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow's Husband and Mother Were Murdered
U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow’s Husband and Mother Were Murdered

This is a dangerous trend. We’ve seen in nations like Mexico and Colombia where threats to the justice system have undermine democracy,  justice and order. The problem isn’t nearly as bad in the U.S. , but it’s still a big problem.

By Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writer

Threats against the nation’s judges and prosecutors have sharply increased, prompting hundreds to get 24-hour protection from armed U.S. marshals.

Many federal judges are altering their routes to work, installing security systems at home, shielding their addresses by paying bills at the courthouse or refraining from registering to vote. Some even pack weapons on the bench.

The problem has become so pronounced that a high-tech “threat management” center recently opened in Crystal City, where a staff of about 25 marshals and analysts monitor a 24-hour number for reporting threats, use sophisticated mapping software to track those being threatened and tap into a classified database linked to the FBI and CIA.

“I live with a constant heightened sense of awareness,” said John R. Adams, a federal judge in Ohio who began taking firearms classes after a federal judge’s family was slain in Chicago and takes a pistol to the courthouse on weekends. “If I’m going to carry a firearm, I’d better know how to use it.”

For Full Story

Immigration Officers Deporting Repeat Offenders Before Conclusion of Court Hearings

immigration-court-la-sublostop1

Immigration officials are angering some immigration attorneys, who say the agency is wrongly deporting immigrants before their court hearings are completed. Immigration officials say these immigrants violated previous deportation orders. Immigration attorneys say once the case goes before a judge, it’s up to the judge to decide what to do, not immigration officers.

By Anna Gorman
Los Angeles Times

Fernando Arteaga appeared last week in Immigration Court as part of a lengthy battle to stay in the United States. But just before the hearing began, immigration officers removed him from the courtroom, arrested him and took him into custody.

Several hours later, agents deported him to Mexico — even though his court case was still underway.

Arteaga, 44, is among a small number of immigrants picked up in recent weeks by immigration agents at the downtown Los Angeles courthouse. All of the people arrested there had been previously deported and all had criminal records, said Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice.

Immigration agents are reinstating previous orders of deportation, Kice said, which “enables the nation’s immigration judges to focus on the cases of those aliens who have not had their day in court.”

For Full Story

Justice Dept. Attorneys Face Possible Sanctions In Calif. Wiretap Case

The government could get burned in this legal game of chess.

calif-mapdataEvan Hill
Law.com

Government lawyers trying to fend off a much-watched warrantless wiretapping case in federal court now face sanctions and the possibility of a judgment that the United States committed illegal surveillance, following an order filed on Friday by Northern District of California Chief Judge Vaughn Walker.

Walker, bringing to a head months of volleying between the government, the plaintiffs and himself, ordered Justice Department lawyers to explain why he should not essentially enter a default judgment against the government for violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by spying on the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation.

The government has refused to obey court orders by repeatedly stonewalling Walker’s attempt to move the case forward, Walker wrote.

If he rules as threatened, Al-Haramain would win without forcing the government to acknowledge surveillance.

“In some ways, this might be entirely satisfactory to the government,” said Jon Eisenberg, who represents the defunct Islamic charity.

For Full Story

FBI Stings-Informants Don’t Always Make For Good Domestic Terrorism Cases

Stings Not Always Fruitful
Stings Not Always Fruitful

Sting operations and anonymous informants are invaluable tools in the FBI’s major domestic terrorist operations. But it turns out sometimes these tools aren’t enough to make a case — or at least a legit one.

By Deborah Hastings
Associated Press
NEW YORK — It usually starts with a snitch and a sting operation, followed by a great deal of publicity and controversy.

Case in point: Four Muslim men charged last week with plotting to blow up synagogues and military planes. The informant is a convicted felon and Pakistani immigrant who turned informant seven years ago to avoid deportation. This wasn’t his first foray into undercover work for federal authorities.

With considerable fanfare, a steady stream of terrorism busts has been announced by the FBI since Sept. 11, 2001. And in most cases, accusations soon followed that the stings were overblown operations that entrapped hapless ne’er-do-wells. Federal authorities say such arrests save lives.

But what happens to these cases after the media spotlight fades and the noise dies down? And are the snitches involved reliable?

“Most of these guys don’t get tried,” said security analyst Bruce Schneier. “These are not criminal masterminds, they’re idiots. There’s huge fanfares at the arrest, and then it dies off.”

To Read More

Two Ex-N.Y. Times Journalists Said They Had Watergate Scandal Tip First; Former FBI Dir. Patrick Gray Cited as Source

L. Patrick Gray/fbi photo

L. Patrick Gray/fbi photo

It’s interesting to see that decades later we’re still learning about FBI leaks in the Watergate case, a story that gave journalism new direction and ushered in an era of great investigative reporting.

By RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA
New York Times

The Watergate break-in eventually forced a presidential resignation and turned two Washington Post reporters into pop-culture heroes.

But almost 37 years after the break-in, two former New York Times journalists have stepped forward to say that The Times had the scandal nearly in its grasp before The Post did – and let it slip.

Robert M. Smith, a former Times reporter, says that two months after the burglary, over lunch at a Washington restaurant, the acting director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, L. Patrick Gray, disclosed explosive aspects of the case, including the culpability of the former attorney general, John Mitchell, and hinted at White House involvement.

Mr. Smith rushed back to The Times’s bureau in Washington to repeat the story to Robert H. Phelps, an editor there, who took notes and tape-recorded the conversation, according to both men. But then Mr. Smith had to hand off the story – he had quit The Times and was leaving town the next day to attend Yale Law School.

Mr. Smith kept the events to himself for more than three decades, but decided to go public after learning that Mr. Phelps planned to include it in his memoir.

For Full Story

HAPPY MEMORIAL WEEKEND FROM TICKLETHEWIRE.COM

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Philadelphia Inquirer Endorses Ex-U.S. Atty. Chris Christie For New Jersey Republican Gov. Primary

Christopher Christie

Christopher Christie

Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial Page
The contest to bear the Republican standard against the Democratic gubernatorial candidate has fallen into a familiar pattern for the New Jersey GOP: the hard-line conservative promising outright upheaval versus the establishment candidate espousing vague electability.

The latter is CHRIS CHRISTIE, and The Inquirer endorses him in the Republican primary. Christie, 46, is the most electable candidate – so much so that Democrats have tried to boost the prospects of right-wing rival Steve Lonegan. Christie earned his reputation with prolific corruption-busting as the state’s chief federal prosecutor. His nomination would likely guarantee a healthy competition in the general election and, for many voters, a tough choice.

Christie’s chief drawback is his foggy agenda, a combination of GOP boilerplate and deliberate ambiguity. That’s probably because he is trying to keep the party’s conservative base mollified without harming his ability to move toward the center in November – a perennial challenge for Republicans in the liberal state.

Lonegan, by contrast, deserves credit for making substantive policy proposals. Unfortunately, some of them would be disastrous if ever carried out.

To READ More

FBI Role To Expand in Fighting Global Terrorism While Focusing More on Prosecutions

fbi1This approach seems fairer. Of course, Dick Cheney may not approve.

By Josh Meyer
Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON — The FBI and Justice Department are gearing up to significantly expand their role in global counterterrorism operations as part of a sharp U.S. policy turnabout, in which a system based primarily on clandestine detentions and interrogations will be replaced by one emphasizing transparent investigations and prosecutions of terrorism suspects.

The effort, which has not been disclosed publicly, includes an initiative dubbed “Global Justice.” FBI agents would participate more centrally in overseas counterterrorism cases, questioning suspects and gathering evidence to ensure that criminal prosecutions are an option wherever possible, according to U.S. counterterrorism officials.

The initiative has been quietly in the works for several months, and many details have not been finalized. But some senior counterterrorism officials and Obama administration policymakers envision it as a centerpiece of the much broader national security framework laid out by the president on Thursday that emphasizes the rule of law, or the principle that even accused terrorists have the right to contest the charges against them in some kind of criminal justice setting.

For Full Story