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News Story

Justice Dept. Investigating Ex-Bush Interior Sec. Gale Norton

It’s good to see corruption is not limited to the Democrats or Republicans in this town. Who says bipartisanship is dead in Washington?  Interior Sec. Gale Norton becomes the first Bush cabinet member to come under official criminal investigation.

Gale Norton/gov photo

Gale Norton/gov photo

By Jim Tankersley and Josh Meyer
Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is investigating whether former Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton illegally used her position to benefit Royal Dutch Shell PLC, the company that later hired her, according to officials in federal law enforcement and the Interior Department.

The criminal investigation centers on the Interior Department’s 2006 decision to award three lucrative oil shale leases on federal land in Colorado to a Shell subsidiary. Over the years it would take to extract the oil, according to calculations from Shell and a Rand Corp. expert, the deal could net the company hundreds of billions of dollars.

The investigation’s main focus is whether Norton violated a law that prohibits federal employees from discussing employment with a company if they are involved in dealings with the government that could benefit the firm, law enforcement and Interior officials said.

For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Homeland Sec. Napolitano  Talks About Successes in Border Security (AP)

FBI Searches Suspected Terrorist’s Denver Area Home; Man Insists He’s Not a Terrorist

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

Homeland To Back Off Stimulus Funding Until It Reviews Priorities

The spending of stimulus funds should come under intense scrutiny. There’s going to be some misspending of stimulus funds, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to keep waste and misguided priorities to a minimum.

Janet Napolitano/bill maher show

Janet Napolitano/bill maher show

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON – Facing criticism for her handling of federal stimulus money, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Wednesday that she would not start any new border construction projects and would review how her department selected projects that would get money.

Napolitano has faced questions since The Associated Press reported last month that Homeland Security officials did not follow their internal priority lists when choosing which border checkpoints would be financed for renovations. Under a process that is secretive and susceptible to political influence, officials planned to spend millions at tiny checkpoints, passing over busier, higher-priority projects.

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D.C. Sniper Muhammad Has a Date With Death

John Allen Muhammad

John Allen Muhammad

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — Convicted D.C. area sniper John Allen Muhammad, who went on a killing spree in 2002, terrorizing the Washington region  and sending local and federal law enforcement on a wild manhunt, has a date with death.

Prince William County Circuit Judge Mary Grace O’Brien in Northern Virginia on Wednesday set his execution date for Nov. 10 by lethal injection, the Associated Press reported.

Muhammad, 48, along with his teen partner Lee Malvo, killed 10 people. He lost an appeal last month at the appeals court level. Malvo is serving a life sentence.

Muhammad’s death sentence is tied to the fatal shooting of Dean Meyers at a gas station in Virginia. He is expected to ask the governor for clemency and appeal to the Supreme Court to try and head off the execution.

The execution would take place at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, Va.

Ex-Fed Prosecutor Emerges As Lead Contender For D.C. U.S. Atty Post

Ronald Machen

Ronald Machen

All across the country candidates are emerging for the many U.S. Attorney posts that need to be filled. In Washington, D.C., former federal prosecutor Ronald Machen has emerged as the likely person to become the next U.S. Attorney, according to the Washington Post. The position is currently being filled by interim U.S. Attorney Phillip Channing, a career prosecutor who was among the candidates being considered for the permanent post.

By Del Quentin Wilber and Keith L. Alexander
Washington Post
WASHINGTON — Ronald C. Machen, a former federal prosecutor, has emerged as the leading contender to be the next U.S. Attorney in the District, according to sources close to the selection process.

Machen was the top choice of Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) when she submitted the names of three candidates to President Obama several weeks ago, sources said.

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FBI Dir. Mueller Says No Imminent Security Threat Tied to High Profile Raids in N.Y.

It was reassuring to hear the head of the FBI say there is no imminent security threat tied to the latest raids in New York and the FBI activity in Denver. On another subject, Mueller did essentially confirm a report that the FBI and ATF still need to correct some problems involving cooperation.  No surprise here. But it’s nice to see him publicly acknowledge the problem. Click here for the AP report on that issue.

Robert Mueller III

Robert Mueller III

By Jeremy Pelofsky
Reuters
WASHINGTON – FBI Director Robert Mueller said on Wednesday there was no imminent security threat related to an investigation that included raids of New York homes this week in an apparent search for homemade explosives.

“I do not believe there is imminent danger from that particular investigation,” Mueller said in response to a question from New York Senator Charles Schumer. He declined to elaborate on the investigation.

A joint anti-terrorism task force carried out raids on Monday in the Queens borough of New York, in an area believed to have been visited by a man suspected of sympathizing with al Qaeda. The raids rattled some residents as they came just days after the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

For Full Story

Read Mueller’s Statement to the Senate Judiciary

Poor Billionaire Allen Stanford Gets Public Defender

R. Allen Stanford/bbc news photo

R. Allen Stanford/bbc news photo

Poor billionaire Allen Stanford. Assets frozen, stuck behind bars. Now he’s getting a federal public defender. Some people think public defenders provide second-rate legal representation. But truth be told, federal defenders around the country generally have a very good reputation and often provide better representation than some highly paid attorneys.

Brenda Sapino Jeffreys
Texas Lawyer

R. Allen Stanford has new lawyers, but they are not from Patton Boggs, which announced in late July it was replacing Houston criminal defense attorney Dick DeGuerin as the Houston financier’s criminal defense firm.

On Tuesday U.S. District Judge David Hittner of the Southern District of Texas granted DeGuerin’s motion to withdraw as Stanford’s criminal defense attorney. He appointed the federal public defender’s office to represent Stanford after determining that Stanford does not have money immediately available to pay for private attorneys.

In July, DeGuerin of DeGuerin & Dickson in Houston asked to be let out of the case because DeGuerin wanted assurance that he will be paid. Lawyers from Washington, D.C.-based Patton Boggs announced in late July they were representing Stanford, but they have not formally entered the case because they also want assurance they will be paid.

For Full Story

Lack of Authority, Funding and Bad Image Hurt Mexican Police in Drug War

How can you battle the violent drug cartels when you have police departments that are powerless and underfunded like this? The Mexican president hopes to change some of this. We’ll see if he can pull this off.

mexico-map-istock

By Chris Hawley
Arizona Republic Mexico City Bureau
URAUPAN, Mexico — One of the police station’s doors is riddled with bullet holes. Shrapnel from grenades has scarred nearby walls. Inside, a makeshift shrine to the Virgin Mary honors officers who have lost their lives fighting drug traffickers.

So far, it has been a one-sided battle. The police force in Uruapan, a city of 280,000 that sits astride a major smuggling route in the Sierra Madre, doesn’t have a single detective. Mexican law prevents local police from questioning witnesses, doing undercover work or searching homes. The department is so cash-strapped that officers must buy their own bullets, at about 75 cents a pop, for target practice.

“We’re the ones out there every day, the easy targets for the drug traffickers,” says Police Chief Adolfo Medina, whose own house was strafed with gunfire in March. “But we’re handicapped.”

That may be changing. As Mexico’s U.S.-funded drug war reaches new levels of violence, President Felipe Calderon’s government has launched a $1 billion drive to train and equip beleaguered local police forces.

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