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Ex-Ohio Rep. Traficant — King of the Bad Hair Day — Is Free Today

James Traficant, the ex-Congressman who never met a bad hair day he didn’t like, is resurfacing after a little stint where he deserved to be. Thankfully, there’s no crime for having a bad hair day, or he wouldn’t be getting out today.

James Traficant/umass.edu photo

James Traficant on one of his better hair days /umass.edu photo

By John Caniglia
Cleveland Plain Dealer
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Federal inmate 31213-060 is heading home Wednesday to a city where many still revere him, despite a conviction that made him a national disgrace.

James Traficant, the former Democratic congressman fond of staccato rants, cowboy boots and a weather-beaten toupee, is scheduled to leave a federal prison in Minnesota sometime Wednesday after serving seven years for bribery.

Some residents will wear “Welcome Home Jimbo” T-shirts and boast of his release.

For Full Story

Ex-Homeland Chief Tom Ridge Criticizes Waterboarding and Indefinite Detention

Tom Ridge/gov photo

Tom Ridge/gov photo

It’s too bad this happens in every administration: Some high-ranking people only seem to be willing to  speak up after it’s all over. The lesson here: express yourself to the powers that be when you’re there, not when you’ve left and decided to cash in with a book.

By Michael Scherer
Time
WASHINGTON — Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge does not want to “second-guess” the motivations of his former colleagues in the Bush Administration.

But with a new memoir, The Test of Our Times, about to hit bookstores, he is ready to talk about all the second thoughts he has been having.

For instance, he thinks waterboarding “was and is torture,” and he wishes the Bush Administration had not permitted it.

He thinks President George W. Bush should have gone to Congress sooner to get permission to expand the National Security Agency’s domestic-spying program.

He even frowns upon the Bush policy of indefinite detention for suspected terrorists, a policy that the Obama Administration has hinted it may continue to some degree.

For Full Story

Rookie NY Cop Who Robbed Bank Tells Fed Judge He Was Struggling to Pay Bills

bank-robbery

Well, this was certainly more, as they would say,  than a rookie mistake.

By Tom Hays
Associated Press
NEW YORK — A former rookie police officer pleaded guilty Tuesday to robbing the same bank twice after a friend who worked as a teller there convinced him it would be “easy money.”

Christian Torres, 23, told a federal judge that he was struggling to pay his bills when he hatched the inside job with the teller, Christina Dasrath, in 2007.

“It was premeditated,” he said. “We discussed … how we would split (the money) in the end.”

For Full Story

Ex-Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales Supports Probe of CIA Torture

Alberto Gonzales

Alberto Gonzales

It’s almost shocking that Alberto Gonzales would break ranks with folks like Dick Cheney. But it’s heartening to see that he’s capable of exercising some independence now that he’s not under the thumb of such strong personalities as Cheney.

By Jeremy Pelofsky
Reuters

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has been under fire in some circles for naming a special prosecutor to investigate alleged abuses of prisoners by CIA interrogators or contractors, but on Tuesday he got some unexpected support from a former Bush administration official.

Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales who oversaw the Justice Department or was White House counsel during the period when some of the controversial interrogation techniques were authorized – such as lengthy sleep deprivation and repeated waterboarding – in a radio interview backed Holder’s decision to review the cases that went outside the limits set.

For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Two Get Life for Las Vegas Bombing (AP)

U.S. Marshals Arrest Woman Accused in Identity Theft Involving Fed Chairman’s Wife

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Ill. U.S. Attorney Rodger Heaton Steps Down

Rodger Heaton/doj photo

Rodger Heaton/doj photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

U.S. Attorney Rodger Heaton of Springfield, Ill., who has been a federal prosecutor since 1991, stepped down Monday, the Associated Press reported.

His assistant Jeffrey Lang takes over as the acting U.S. Attorney.

The wire service said Heaton planned to practice law in the private sector.

Heaton had been U.S. Attorney since 2005. Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin has recommended that the post be filled either by attorneys Gregory Harris or James Lewis.

Atty. Gen. Holder Moving to Revive Civil Rights Division

It’s certainly the right move. There’s no reason that this division should have been tamped down during the Bush years.

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder

By CHARLIE SAVAGE
New York Times
WASHINGTON – Seven months after taking office, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. is reshaping the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division by pushing it back into some of the most important areas of American political life, including voting rights, housing, employment, bank lending practices and redistricting after the 2010 census.

As part of this shift, the Obama administration is planning a major revival of high-impact civil rights enforcement against policies, in areas ranging from housing to hiring, where statistics show that minorities fare disproportionately poorly.

President George W. Bush’s appointees had discouraged such tactics, preferring to focus on individual cases in which there is evidence of intentional discrimination.

For Full Service

It’s a Wild Life: Fed Prosecutors Crack Down on Sales of Sea Turtle Eggs and Eagle Feathers

Loggerhead sea turtle/istock photo

Loggerhead sea turtle/istock photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — This past week has been an interesting one for federal law enforcement and wildlife.

A West Palm Beach, Fla. man pleaded guilty in federal court to unlawfully possessing 119 Loggerhead sea turtle eggs and a Phoenix man was sentenced to six months home confinement and 150 hours of community service for selling 11 bald eagle tail feathers, authorities said.

The feds apparently take this stuff seriously.

“The buying and selling of feathers of bald eagles, our nation’s symbol, is illegal and those who choose to ignore those laws will be prosecuted,” John C. Cruden, acting Assistant Atty. General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division said in a statement after the sentencing Friday.

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