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News Story

FBI Says Computer Spying and Theft Of Info Rising

While the traditional ground wars rage on in Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts of the world, the cyber war is quietly raging around the world. Are we prepared to fight this one?

By Randall Mikkelsen
REUTERS
WASHINGTON – Computer spying and theft of personal information have risen notably in the past year, costing tens of millions of dollars and threatening U.S. security, the FBI’s cyber division head said Wednesday.
FBI Assistant Director Shawn Henry told reporters that organized-crime groups are drawn by the ease of reaching millions of potential victims.
He said as many as two dozen countries have taken an “aggressive interest” in penetrating the networks of U.S. companies and government agencies.
He declined to specify countries, but U.S. intelligence agencies have voiced concern over Russia and China’s abilities to electronically spy on the United States and disrupt U.S. computer networks.
For Full Story

Black Workers Accuse Marshals Service Of Discrimination

The U.S. Marshals Service, like the U.S. Secret Service, is facing allegations of racial discrimination and degrading supervisors.

By Hope Yen
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Black employees of the U.S. Marshals Service filed a racial discrimination lawsuit Wednesday, saying they have been denied promotions by managers who belittled them as lazy.
The suit in U.S. District Court seeks broad changes in job practices at a law enforcement agency that has grappled with race bias accusations dating back to the 1990s. It cast the agency as a “good old boys network” that exploited loopholes to groom whites for leadership positions while reprimanding blacks for “trivial mistakes.”
Seeking to sue on behalf of 200 current or former black employees, the challenge alleges violations of federal civil rights laws. The suit is asking for damages of at least $300 million for lost back pay and harm suffered in a “hostile work environment.”
The allegations also come as black agents at the Secret Service, which protects presidents, their family members and other dignitaries, are making similar charges of denied promotions because of their race.
For Full Story

Two D.C. School Cops Admit Taking Bribes

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Two special police officers for D.C. Public Schools pleaded guilty Wednesday to accepting bribes to let someone operate a for-profit parking lot on school property in Northeast Washington, the U.S. Attorneys Office said.
Shawn B. Armstead, 37, and Shawn M. Johnson, both 37 of Laurel, Md., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman. Both solicited hundreds of dollars on different occasions for special events on and off the property of Eastern High School, authorities charged. Each faces a sentences of up to 15 years in prison.

More Potential Security Breaches At Airports

The last thing people want to hear these days is that the government is not doing enough about airport security. Well, the Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security says there’s still reason to be concerned.

By Alan Levin
USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – The agency overseeing security at the nation’s airports failed for years to track security passes and uniforms of former employees, creating widespread vulnerability to terrorists, says a government watchdog report obtained by USA TODAY.

The Transportation Security Administration lacked centralized controls over the secure passes issued to some of its employees, according to Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Richard Skinner. The passes grant people access to the most sensitive areas of an airport, such as where baggage is screened or planes are parked.
Investigators found numerous cases in which former employees retained their passes long after they had left the agency.
For Full Story

Read TSA’s Official Response

FBI Says Justifiable Homicides Highest In More Than Decade

For whatever reason, killing people is becoming more justifiable, according to an FBI report. Is it a sign of a societal decline?

By Kevin Johnson
USA TODAY
The number of justifiable homicides committed by police and private citizens has been rising in the past two years to their highest levels in more than a decade, reflecting a shoot-first philosophy in dealing with crime, say law enforcement analysts.
The 391 killings by police that were ruled justifiable in 2007 were the most since 1994, FBI statistics show. The 254 killings by private individuals found to be self-defense were the most since 1997.
The FBI says a homicide committed by a private citizen is justified when a person is slain during the commission of a felony, such as a burglary or robbery. Police are justified, the FBI says, when felons are killed while the officer is acting in the line of duty. Rulings on these deaths are usually made by the local police agencies involved.
Some law enforcement analysts say the numbers represent changing attitudes on the streets, where police have felt more threatened by well-armed offenders, and citizens have taken greater responsibility for their own safety.
For Full Story

N.Y. FBI May Use Dogs To Find Mobster Bodies

The FBI has found one mobster’s body so far, but they’re taking a break from the dig to regroup. Is it time for the dogs?

William Cutolo: Only Body Found So Far/cbs

William Cutolo: Only Body Found So Far/cbs

By Robert Kessler
Newsday
EAST FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — FBI agents are considering bringing in cadaver dogs, trained to find human remains, to help search for two of the three bodies that were supposed to be buried by mob hit men in a sprawling industrial park in East Farmingdale, according to sources familiar with the excavation.
After 12 days at the site, FBI agents using shovels and backhoes have so far found only the body of William Cutolo, a former underboss of the Colombo family.
An informant has told the FBI that the site was used as a mob burial ground since 1994 for the bodies of Cutolo; Carmine Gargano, a Pace University undergraduate whose relative had clashed with a Colombo associate; and Richard Greaves, a Colombo associate who was thought to have become an informant.

For Full Story

Detroit Reporter Fights To Protect Sources

Ex-Prosecutor Richard Convertino,  who is suing the government for leaking information about him, wants a reporter to give up his sources in the case. The fight is on.

David Ashenfelter

By Amber Hunt
Detroit Free Press
DETROIT — The Free Press sought Monday to prevent a former federal prosecutor from attempting to obtain the identity of a reporter’s unnamed sources in a 2004 story.
David Ashenfelter (photo), who covers federal courts for the paper, has been ordered to answer questions posed by lawyers representing ex-prosecutor Richard Convertino.
Convertino, indicted in 2006, was acquitted last year on charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and making a false declaration to a court.
Free Press attorney Herschel Fink filed motions Monday with two federal judges — one in Detroit and one in Washington — seeking to postpone a scheduled deposition of Ashenfelter this week.
For Full Story

Read Free Press Motion-Oct. 13

Read Greg Stejskal’s Column On Convertino

Listen To NPR’s “This American Life” Report On Convertino

Fed Judge Rules Jurors’ Names No Longer Secret

A judge has lifted the veil of secrecy when it comes to jurors’ names. The media pushed for it, saying the secrecy violated the spirit of a transparent judicial system.

Judge Donetta Ambrose

Judge Donetta Ambrose

By Paula Reed Ward
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
PITTSBURGH — The chief judge in the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Pennsylvania today revoked a local rule that kept the names of jurors secret.
Judge Donetta W. Ambrose rescinded the July 2006 order based on an opinion by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in August in the criminal case involving former Allegheny County Coroner Dr. Cyril Wecht.
In Dr. Wecht’s trial that began in January, U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab required that the names of the jurors be kept from not only the public but also from the attorneys in the case. He did this, he said, based on overwhelming media attention in the case.
For Full Story