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News Story

Is TSA’s “Suspicious Behavior” Watch at Airports Working?

It’s hard to say these days what suspicious behavior is. Eating a Snickers bar with a knife and fork like George on Seinfeld? Maybe. Maybe not.

By Thomas Frank
USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – Fewer than 1% of airline passengers singled out at airports for suspicious behavior are arrested, Transportation Security Administration figures show, raising complaints that too many innocent people are stopped.
A TSA program launched in early 2006 that looks for terrorists using a controversial surveillance method has led to more than 160,000 people in airports receiving scrutiny, such as a pat-down search or a brief interview. That has resulted in 1,266 arrests, often on charges of carrying drugs or fake IDs, the TSA said.
The TSA program trains screeners to become “behavior detection officers” who patrol terminals and checkpoints looking for travelers who act oddly or appear to answer questions suspiciously.
Critics say the number of arrests is small and indicates the program is flawed.
For Full Story

Justice to Pay for Lawyer to Defend Former Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales

Alberto Gonzales brought some shame to  his position as the country’s Attorney General. Now the country has agreed to pay for his digressions.

By Marisa Taylor
McClatchy Newspapers

Former A.G. Alberto Gonzales

Former A.G. Alberto Gonzales

WASHINGTON– The Justice Department has agreed to pay for a private lawyer to defend former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales against allegations that he encouraged officials to inject partisan politics into the department’s hiring and firing practices.
Lawyers from the Justice Department’s civil division often represent department employees who’re sued in connection with their official actions. However, Gonzales’ attorney recently revealed in court papers that the Justice Department had approved his request to pay private attorney’s fees arising from the federal lawsuit.
Dan Metcalfe, a former high-ranking veteran Justice Department official who filed the suit on behalf of eight law students, called the department’s decision to pay for a private attorney rather than rely on its civil division “exceptional.”
“It undoubtedly will cost the taxpayers far more,” he said.

For Full Story

White Supremacist in Texas Attacks Jewish Cellmate

Just a good guess that a white supremacist would not take a liking to his Jewish cellmate.

By Associated Press
DALLAS – A federal grand jury in Texas has indicted a white supremacist on hate crime charges related to an alleged prison attack on the man’s Jewish cellmate.
Timothy York was indicted on two charges of bias-motivated assault in connection with a December 2007 assault on his cellmate. According to the indictment, York tried to strangle his cellmate using a ligature made from prison clothing.
At the time, York was being held at Seagoville Federal Correctional Institution, about 16 miles southeast of Dallas. Authorities say he is a member of the United/Universal Aryan Brotherhood.
For Full Story

Newsweek Reports That Obama Wants Eric Holder For Atty. General

From the beginning the conventional wisdom was that the A.G. job was Eric Holder’s for the asking. Some just wondered whether Holder would give up  his high paying job at a private law firm.

Eric Holder

Eric Holder

By Michael Isikoff
Newsweek
WASHINGTON — President-elect Obama has decided to tap Eric Holder as his attorney general, putting the veteran Washington lawyer in place to become the first African-American to head the Justice Department, according to two legal sources close to the presidential transition.
Holder, who served as deputy attorney general during the Clinton administration, still has to undergo a formal “vetting” review by the Obama transition team before the selection is final and is publicly announced, said one of the sources, who asked not to be identified talking about the transition process. But in the discussions over the past few days, Obama offered Holder the job and he accepted, the source said. The announcement is not likely until after Obama announces his choices to lead the Treasury and State departments.
Holder, 57, has been on Obama’s “short list” for attorney general from the outset.
For Full Story

Washington City Paper Critical of Holder

Ex-D.C. Tax Clerk Sentenced Monday in Refund Scam

By Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — A former clerk at the D.C. Department of Tax and Revenue was sentenced yesterday to 15 months in federal prison for operating a refund scam that netted her and her boyfriend $184,000.
Jacqueline C. Wright, 41, of Temple Hills pleaded guilty in August to mail fraud, admitting that she manipulated a government computer system to issue phony refunds in 2007 that she split with her boyfriend.
U.S. District Court Judge James Robertson said Wright deserved prison time because she abused her job as a public official. “There is no excuse for a District of Columbia employee to engage in the outright and outrageous conduct you engaged in,” said Robertson, who also ordered Wright to pay $184,000 in restitution.
Wright told Robertson that she was “remorseful” for her conduct.

Dallas Maverick Owner Mark Cuban Charged With Insider Trading

Mark Cuban/nba photo

Mark Cuban/nba photo

Mark Cuban’s Dallas Mavericks may have had some rough times on the hard court.  But now he’s facing hard times in a real court.


By DAVE MICHAELS and BRENDAN M. CASE
Dallas Morning News

Federal regulators on Monday accused Mark Cuban of insider trading, saying he sold shares in an Internet company shortly after learning about a stock offering that was likely to push down the value of his shares.
The civil lawsuit involves a 4-year-old stock sale that Mr. Cuban has written about on his blog. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission alleges that Mr. Cuban avoided a $750,000 loss by selling his 6 percent stake after company executives told him confidentially about a stock offering restricted to major investors.
“It is fundamentally unfair for someone to use access to nonpublic information to improperly gain an edge on the market,” said Scott W. Friestad, the SEC’s deputy director of enforcement.
Mr. Cuban, the outspoken owner of the Dallas Mavericks and a suitor for the Chicago Cubs, denied the allegations and wrote on his blog Monday that he would fight the civil complaint.
Mr. Cuban wrote in March 2005 that he sold his stake in Mamma.com, an Internet search engine, because he disliked the tactic of selling stock below its market price, which is how Mamma.com’s CEO told him it would issue more shares in June 2004.
For Full Story

Read SEC Filing

Read Mark Cuban’s Blog and Comments On SEC Allegations

Other Stories of Interest

Judges Throw Out Contempt Order Against Former USA Today Reporter Toni Locy In Anthrax Case (AP)

Obama’s Justice Dept. Not Likely To Go After Bush Folks Who Authorized Torture

Maybe it’s all part of wiping the slate clean. But indications are anyone who condoned harsh interrogation techniques of suspected terrorists in the Bush years will be able to sleep tight.

By Lara Jakes Jordan
AP News
Barack Obama’s incoming administration is unlikely to bring criminal charges against government officials who authorized or engaged in harsh interrogations of suspected terrorists during the George W. Bush presidency. Obama, who has criticized the use of torture, is being urged by some constitutional scholars and human rights groups to investigate possible war crimes by the Bush administration.
Two Obama advisers said there’s little – if any – chance that the incoming president’s Justice Department will go after anyone involved in authorizing or carrying out interrogations that provoked worldwide outrage.
The advisers spoke on condition of anonymity because the plans are still tentative. A spokesman for Obama’s transition team did not respond to requests for comment Monday.
Additionally, the question of whether to prosecute may never become an issue if Bush issues pre-emptive pardons to protect those involved.
For Full Story

Also Read: Obama Faces Tough Issues on Domestic Spying (NY Times)

Pakistani Woman Who Tried Killing FBI Agents Mentally Unfit For Trial

In the long run, being mentally unfit has its advantages.

By Associated Press
A Pakistani neuroscientist indicted in New York on charges that she tried to kill an American soldier and F.B.I. agents while she was in custody in Afghanistan is mentally unfit for trial, a court-ordered psychological evaluation has determined.
The neuroscientist, Aafia Siddiqui, is unable to understand the nature and consequences of court proceedings and cannot assist properly in her defense, according to the evaluation at the Federal Medical Center Carswell in Fort Worth, Tex.
Judge Richard M. Berman of United States District Court in Manhattan described the results in an order sent to lawyers, according to an entry in the case on Monday. He scheduled a conference for Wednesday so lawyers could discuss what should happen in the case next, including the possibility of medication for Ms. Siddiqui.
For Full Story