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D.C. Wall Street Journal Investigative Reporter John Wilke Passes Away

John Wilke/facebook

John Wilke

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON – John Wilke, kick-ass investigative reporter, kick-ass friend, kick-ass human being, may not have been one of a kind, but certainly the last of a kind in an industry going through some radical changes.

A dogged investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal in Washington, he talked endlessly on the phone to sources,  he jumped on planes, he drove thousands of miles, all to track down stories, to expose crooked members in Congress and corporate America. Those in federal law enforcement  knew him to be an honorable person.

Wilke, 54, was the journalist we all hoped to be. Forever enthusiastic, forever dogged, forever loyal to the truth (and the Red Sox) and forever a loyal friend. He was the antitheses of official Washington: He had a soul.

The father of 2 great teenage kids, he died Friday afternoon at his home in Bethesda, Md. with his wife Nancy by his side after battling pancreatic cancer for less than a year.

He was a stoic. He wanted no sympathy during his relatively short battle with cancer. He smiled. He joked. He sometimes even had a Sierra Nevada beer.  He never let on that the end was near. His sense of humor never died.

We all lose friends at one time or another. But this loss goes beyond friendship.

Wilke loved journalism more than anyone I knew. He never lost his boyish enthusiasm for it.   I always felt that journalism, which has fallen on hard times,  would turn out OK so long as Wilke was still around.

On Friday,  all of  us lost a little of piece journalism. For those of us who knew John Wilke well, it was a big piece.

Update: To contribute to the education of John’s two children, please write two separate checks payable  to:

The Maryland College Investment Plan,  f/b/o  Robin Wilke, and The Maryland College Investment Plan, f/b/o  Jackson Wilke and mail the checks to:  Wilke Kids Fund, c/o TSD,  Inc., 1714 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20009. Or click here to pay with credit card.

The Weekend Series on History: J. Edgar Hoover and JFK’s Romances

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

Former Dep. Atty General Commits Suicide in D.C. Law Office: He Was About to Lose Job

Mark Levy

Mark Levy

This sad story, which happened on Thursday,  seems reminiscent of the Great Depression: Job losses and suicides.

By Del Quentin Wilber and Paul Duggan
Washington Post Staff Writers
WASHINGTON — A 59-year-old lawyer with an Atlanta-based firm who was about to lose his job because of the economy was found dead in his Washington office yesterday of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to police.

Mark I. Levy, a Bethesda resident who was a former deputy assistant attorney general in the Clinton administration, was discovered by a co-worker about 8 a.m. in his 11th-floor office at Kilpatrick Stockton, in the 600 block of 14th Street NW, police said. They said evidence indicates that Levy shot himself in the head with a .38-caliber handgun.

The firm would not comment on his death beyond issuing a statement calling him a “highly respected” colleague and offering condolences to his family.

Kilpatrick Stockton, which employs scores of people in offices in the United States, Europe and the United Arab Emirates, announced Tuesday that 24 lawyers would be laid off.

For Full Story

Justice Drops Spy Case Against Pro-Israel Lobbyists

aipacThis case was plagued with troubles. It’s best that the government dropped it. Taking it to trial could have been a disaster. And that’s something the Justice Department doesn’t need at a time it’s trying to upgrade its image and correct the mistakes of the past.

By NEIL A. LEWIS
New York Times
WASHINGTON – The Obama Justice Department moved Friday to drop all charges against two former pro-Israel lobbyists who had been charged under the Espionage Act with improperly disseminating sensitive information.

The move by the government came in a motion filed with the federal court in Alexandria, Va. which was to be the site of the trial that was scheduled to begin June 2.

The prosecution’s case against Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman suffered several setbacks in rulings from the trial judge. At the same time, the case was fraught with deep political dimensions, as it raised delicate issue of behind-the-scenes lobbying over Middle East policy and the role played by American Jewish supporters of Israel.

Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman, who were lobbyists with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a leading pro-Israel lobby, were charged with violating the World War I-era Espionage Act. The indictment said they violated the law by disseminating to journalists, fellow Aipac employees and Israeli diplomats information they had learned in conversations with senior Bush administration officials.

For Full Story

Ex-Secret Service Agent Contracted Swine Flu During Presidental Trip to Mexico

secret-service-logo1Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — A former U.S. Secret Service agent from Maryland, who traveled to Mexico with President Obama last month “probably contracted swine flu and infected several members of his family in Anne Arundel County”, the Washington Post reported Friday.

Marc S. Griswold, who had left the Secret Service a while ago and is an employee of the Department of Energy, was serving as a lead advance agent for Energy Secretary Steven Chu on the presidential trip, authorities said Friday morning. He told the post that a minor cough turned into the swine flu, but that he has recovered.

Griswold said the disease has created problems for his family, which had endured stares and mean jokes, the Post reported.

“We’re not the Typhoid Mary family, for goodness sake,” Griswold told the Post. “We’ve been told we’re not contagious. We’re already past the seven-day mark for that.”

Griswold did not get close to the President during the trip, the paper reported.

OTHER STORIES  OF INTEREST

John Malcolm Bales Named Interim U.S. Attorney for Eastern District of Texas

texasBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. has named John Malcolm Bales the interim U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas.

He replaces Rebecca Gregory, who stepped down to join the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

Bales, 54 of Nacogdoches,Tex., will take the post on Friday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Bales had previously served as First Assistant U.S. Attorney and most recently as chief of the criminal division, the office said.

The District includes 43 counties stretching from the Oklahoma border to the Gulf of Mexico.

Bales, a former FBI agent, graduated from the University of Texas School of Law and became an assistant U.S. Attorney in 1989, according to a press release.

al-Qaida Sleeper Agent Pleads Guilty in Illinois

perioria-map

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
PEORIA, Ill.—- An al-Qaida sleeper agent who was locked up without charge for years by the Bush administration pleaded guilty Thursday to supporting terrorism in the months before and immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Ali al-Marri, 43, a married father of five who was attending college in this central Illinois city when he was arrested, admitted to one count of conspiring to provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization.

He faces up to 15 years in prison at his July 30 sentencing.

“We thought (the plea) was the right approach to take based on the evidence the government allowed us to review over the last several weeks,” said al-Marri’s attorney, Andy Savage.

Plea negotiations have been going on since before al-Marri’s initial court appearance in Peoria in March, Savage said.

For Full Story

With All the Trouble at the Mexico Border, What’s the Holdup For a New DEA Chief?

Chris Battle

Chris Battle

By Chris Battle
Security DeBrief

WASHINGTON — There has been quite a bit of discussion about the surge of drug-related violence on the Mexican border, rightly so.

There has also been quite a bit of discussion lately, thanks to a recent GAO study and congressional hearings, about whether the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are allowing turf issues to interfere with an effective U.S. response to that increased violence. Also an appropriate topic of inquiry.

Is anyone else, though, wondering why – if the narco-violence on our southern border is indeed so important (and it is) – why the Administration has yet to announce a nominee to lead the DEA?

The DEA is a rare government bird; it has only one focus. That focus is to combat the large-scale trafficking of illegal narcotics. If you ask anyone at the FBI, he or she will inform you that The Bureau does it all. You got a crime? They got a jurisdiction. They do drugs. They do white collar. They do terrorism. They’d do circus clowns if circus clowning were a federal crime (which, by the way, I am actively lobbying for). Which is why they can sometimes come off as disorganized and thinly stretched.

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