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Judge Rules Against White House Shielding Abramoff Visits

Judge Lamberth/official photo by Beverly Rezneck

Jack Abramoff, a toxic Washington lobbyist who went off to prison, continues to amuse and mystify this city. Some groups are trying to dig a little deeper to untangle his web in the nation’s capital.

The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — A federal judge has rejected the Bush administration’s attempt to shield records that may shed light on the White House visits of now imprisoned lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
In several orders this week, U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth sided with watchdog groups Judicial Watch and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, which are suing the Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security for access to the logs.
The administration in 2006 agreed to produce all responsive records about the visits “without redactions or claims of exemption.” But it soon argued that the contents of certain “Sensitive Security Records,” which are created in the course of conducting more extensive background checks on particular White House visitors, cannot be publicly revealed even though they could show some of Abramoff’s visits.
For Full Story

See Judge’s Ruling

Colombian Drug Traffickers Extradited To Detroit

There was a time when Colombian drug dealers would never have been extradited to the U.S. Times have changed.

By Paul Egan
The Detroit News
DETROIT – Two alleged Colombian drug traffickers have been extradited to Detroit to face charges handed down by a federal grand jury, acting U.S. Attorney Terrence Berg announced Thursday.
Carlos Salguero-Bermudez and Ricardo Torres-Noack, both Colombian citizens, arrived in Detroit on Thursday to face charges they conspired to smuggle tons of ephedrine into the U.S. to manufacture methamphetamine in Michigan, Berg said in a news release. They also face drug possession and manufacturing and money laundering charges.
A federal grand jury in Detroit indicted the Colombians June 27 and the indictment was unsealed Thursday.
The two men were arrested by the Colombian National Police in Bogota, Colombia, in August and were held there pending the outcome of extradition requests made by the U.S. government in September, Berg said.
For Full Story

Dig For Dead Mobsters In New York Continues Today

FBI agents digging for dead mobsters came up empty handed on Thursday, but continued looking Friday. Will it end up being a wild goose chase?

By ROBERT E. KESSLER
Newsday
EAST FARMINGDALE, N.Y. – FBI agents spent their first full day digging yesterday at an East Farmingdale site that, according to sources, is described by an informant as an organized crime burial ground since at least 1994.
But the agents did not find any traces of the three bodies – one of whom could be Colombo family underboss William Cutolo – that were supposedly buried at the site, the sources said.
The agents suspended their work in the early evening at an industrial and commercial complex radiating out from Baiting Place Road and Del Drive, but plan to continue excavating today, said FBI spokesman James Margolin.
For Full Story

Bloody Politics Led to Firing of Missouri U.S. Atty

The stories this week continue to trickle in about the injustice at Justice when it came to the firings of some U.S. Attorneys. In Missouri, blood flowed in the case of U.S. Attorney Todd P. Graves who was axed in 2006.

Ex-U.S. Atty Todd Graves/doj photo

Ex-U.S. Atty Todd Graves/doj photo

By R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
In Missouri, evidently, Republican politics are exceptionally bloody, with clans fighting like rival mobs whose carnage spreads to other locales and sweeps in innocent civilians.
This is what former U.S. attorney Todd P. Graves discovered when he was ousted in January 2006 by the Justice Department. He got his first inkling of trouble in 2004 not from the department, but from an aide to Sen. Christopher S. Bond (R-Mo.), whose office was then embroiled in a bitter dispute with Graves’s brother, a U.S. congressman.
In a telephone call, the aide angrily warned Graves that if he did not intervene on Bond’s behalf — against his brother’s chief of staff — the senator “could no longer protect [his] job.” Graves refused, and a little over a year later, he was bounced from his Kansas City office after Bond’s staff made repeated complaints to the White House counsel’s office.
For Full Story

Read Full Report On U.S. Atty Firings

Taliban Drug Trafficking Rakes In 100 Mil A Year

The U.S. economy may be tanking, but the Taliban’s big business — drug trafficking — is doing just fine. How does that impact the war on terrorism? It can’t be good.

By James Gordon Meek
New York Daily News
WASHINGTON – The resurgent Taliban get a yearly injection of $100 million from drug trafficking, the top U.S. Army general in Afghanistan said Wednesday.
“That’s a conservative estimate,” added Gen. David McKiernan, who also commands NATO troops.
McKiernan also bluntly stated that America’s focus on Iraq means victory in Afghanistan is too far off to predict.
“Obviously our national priority has been Iraq,” McKiernan said. “The consequence of not placing more force capability in Afghanistan means it will take longer to win [and] at a higher price.”
For Full Story

Two Terrorism Convictions In New York Tossed

The U.S. Court of Appeals overturned a conviction of two Yemeni men accused of terrorism. The case included a witness who had set himself on fire in front of the White House. Tough to top that act.

By Larry Neumeister
The Associated Press
NEW YORK — A federal appeals court Thursday overturned the convictions of a Yemeni cleric and his deputy, finding they were prejudiced by inflammatory testimony about unrelated terrorism links in a case the United States once touted as a victory in its war against terrorism.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Thursday that Sheik Mohammed Ali Al-Moayad and Mohammed Mohsen Zayed, convicted of supporting terrorists, can have new trials. The three-judge panel took the unusual step of ordering the transfer of the case to a new judge.
The men were convicted in federal court in Brooklyn after a six-week trial in early 2005 on charges of conspiring to support al-Qaida and Hamas, supporting the Palestinian group and attempting to support al-Qaida. Their trial featured testimony by an FBI informant who set himself on fire outside the White House, saying he wanted more money from the FBI.
For Full Story

Read Court Of Appeals Ruling

FBI Arrests Puerto Rican Senator On Bribery

Scandal was bubbling on Thursday in Puerto Rico where a local senator was off to face bribery charges.

Sen. Jorge de Castro/official photo

Sen. Jorge de Castro/official photo

By Rebecca Banuchi
Associated Press Writer
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The FBI on Thursday arrested a prominent Puerto Rico lawmaker accused of providing political favors in exchange for cash and services totaling roughly half a million dollars, U.S. officials said.
Puerto Rico Sen. Jorge de Castro Font was indicted by a federal grand jury on 31 criminal counts including bribery, wire fraud and money laundering, U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez Velez said.
For Full Story

Prosecution Angers Judge In Stevens Trial

Sen. Stevens/official photo
Sen. Stevens/official photo

The trial of Sen. Ted Stevens  almost imploded today for the prosecution. Suffice to say, things could be going better. As a general rule, it’s never good to get the judge angry. The prosecution needs to work on that.

By Erika Bolstad and Richard Mauer
Anchorage Daily News
WASHINGTON – Prosecutors have seriously bungled evidence and witnesses, but Sen. Ted Stevens’ corruption trial will proceed as planned, a federal judge ruled this afternoon.
The case against the Alaska Republican had threatened to collapse earlier in the day when his attorney demanded a mistrial or dismissal of charges over the government’s failure to turn over evidence favorable to the senator.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan was angered at prosecutors for their handling of evidence that might help Stevens’ case but was “not persuaded” the violations were serious enough to declare a mistrial. The trial will resume Monday.
Judge Sullivan asked whether the defense attorneys wanted a few extra days before continuing with the trial and suggested they could make a new opening statement to jurors.
“Thank you for asking, but we believe there should be a dismissal,” said Stevens’ chief lawyer, Brendan Sullivan. “If not a dismissal, then a mistrial.”
For Full Story
New Defense Motion For Mistrial (Oct. 2)
FBI And IRS Documents (Oct. 2)
Government Motion Opposing Mistrial (Oct. 2)
FBI Report (Oct. 2)