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Judge Rips FBI for Failing to Record 6-Hour Interrogation of Terror Suspect

courtroomBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI interrogated an Everett terror suspect for six hours without recording the interaction.

That didn’t sit well with U.S. District Court Judge William G. Young, who criticized the FBI during a day-long evidentiary hearing Thursday, the Boston Herald reports. 

“It would have been a very good idea if all this had been recorded,” Young said. “A recording device that is reliable ought to be part of their kit.”

The suspect, David Daoud Wright, was charged with conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organization for allegedly plotting to behead a conservative blogger with Boston terror suspect Usaamah Rahim.

FBI Boston Special Agent David George said the interrogation wan’t recorded because “We were in his living room. We weren’t in the right environment for it … We were not properly equipped,” noting that the bureau prohibits using cell phones to record interviews.

Star-Ledger: FBI Director Comey’s Handling of Clinton Emails Is Real Scandal

Director James B. Comey

Director James B. Comey

By Editorial Board
Star-Ledger

It may never be determined whether James Comey altered history by introducing a headline-grabbing non-sequitur into the Hillary Clinton email saga on the eve of the election, but this aspect of that false alarm is irrefutable:

The director of the FBI tainted this election by breaking clear rules that establish a wall between politics and criminal investigations, in effect turning the FBI into a political player. That is a scary precedent.

The Trump campaign was a mess before Oct. 28, the day Comey announced that emails found on Anthony Weiner’s computer might be related to Clinton’s case, and therefore should be flung into the media hurricane as potentially “new” and “relevant.”

They turned out to be nothing at all, but that marinated for nine news cycles.

Nine days that clearly energized Trump, who used it as a cudgel at every rally.

Nine days in which Trump and his media allies called for Clinton’s prosecution despite the absence of evidence that a law was broken.

Nine days before Comey said this, on Nov. 6: Oops, never mind.

By then, tens of millions had voted – some who might have otherwise sat this one out, if not for Trump renewing his lock-her-up campaign strategy.

Either way, it was a horrendous intrusion to the democratic process, and Comey butchered it from the start.

Rudy Giuliani: Probably Nobody ‘Knows Justice Department Better Than Me’

Rudolph Giuliani

Rudolph Giuliani

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Rudy Giuliani sounded a lot like President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday when he spoke of his qualifications to head the Justice Department.

“There’s probably nobody that knows the Justice Department better than me,” the former New York mayor said, adding that “I certainly have the energy” to take on the task of attorney general, USA Today reports

He added: “I know the bottom of the Justice Department, and I know the top of the Justice Department.”

It’s unclear whether Giuliani will be tapped for the job.

In the meantime, some members of Trump’s transition team appeared to suggest that the new administration won’t try to prosecute Hillary Clinton.

Yonkers Native Returns Home to Take Top ATF Job in New York

ATF Special Agent Ashan Benedict

ATF Special Agent Ashan Benedict

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Ashan Benedict, the son of Sri Lankan immigrants, has come home to Yonkers to become the special agent in charge of ATF’s New York Field Division.

“Law enforcement is not a field that South Asians typically go into,” Benedict told the Journal News. “But I guess my personality and growing up in Yonkers … you want to try different things.”

Now 45, Benedict spent 21 years climbing the ATF’s ranks.

Benedict’s wife also is a special agent for the ATF. They have three children and recently moved to Scarsdale.

“It’s fantastic,” he said on a recent morning in the ATF’s Bronx office, speaking about his new assignment. “It really motivates and drives me to do better, because this is not just another post of duty. This is my home.”

“For me, this is the pinnacle of my career,” he added.

Armed MIT Worker Accused of Impersonating FBI to Get inside Home

arlington-policeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An armed MIT worker was jailed after police said he impersonated an FBI agent in an attempt to get inside an Arlington, Mass., home.

Gannon LeBlanc, a 23-year-old from Nashua, NH., pleaded not guilty to charges of impersonating a police officer and carrying a gun without a license, the Boston Herald reports. 

LeBlanc, who was wearing a black suit, black tie and black hat with white FBI lettering, unsuccessfully tried to convince a resident to him inside their home.

Arlington police said they found him at a bus stop, where he was arrested and carrying a stun gun, loaded .38 caliber handgun, knife, rope, ski mask and copies of an FBI flyer.

“I commend the homeowners for having the presence of mind to refuse entry and immediately call the real police,” Ryan said in a statement. “Thankfully, our officers responded quickly and were able to locate this individual and restore safety to the neighborhood.”

Other Stories of Interest

Georgia Man Who Shot ATF Agent Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison

Steven Maurice McKinley

Steven Maurice McKinley

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An Athens, Ga., man who shot an ATF agent during an undercover investigation more than two years ago was sentenced to 24 years in federal prison on Tuesday.

Steven Maurice McKinley, 23, was convicted of attempting to kill a federal officer and discharging a firearm during a federal crime of violence, the Athens Banner-Herald reports.

The violence broke out in September 2014 when an undercover agent agreed to buy an AK-47 and marijuana from McKinley for $800. But the meeting turned out to be a robbery attempt by McKinney, who shot and wounded the agent.

“Today’s sentence is a direct message to criminals that law enforcement is observant and it will not tolerate violent crime,” said John Schmidt, assistant special agent in charge of the ATF’s Atlanta field office. “ Steven McKinley showed a complete and utter disregard for human life when he attempted to murder a federal agent. As an agency and unified law enforcement community, we will not tolerate armed violent individuals continually terrorizing our neighborhoods and reducing the quality of life.”

Other Stories of Interest

Parker: The Supreme Court’s November Cases and the Continued Search for the Evolving Standards of Decency in Criminal Punishment

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office.

US_Supreme_Court

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

With only a pair of criminal cases on the Oral Argument docket in November, the Court will primarily focus on civil and administrative cases. One of the criminal cases, Beckler v. United States, involves a question of interest probably only to some prosecutors and judges: whether the career offender sentencing guidelines defining a “crime of violence” warranting a sentence enhancement is unconstitutionally vague. The Court last year invalidated a similar clause (violent felony) in the Armed Career Criminal Act on that ground.

The other case, Moore v. Texas, involves yet another 8th Amendment Cruel and Unusual Punishment issue on the permissible medical standards for intellectual disability regarding a defendant’s fitness for execution.  The case involves another question which will probably not be resolved because of the absence of a Justice to fill Antonin Scalia’s seat. That question is whether long term solitary confinement on death row is itself unconstitutional as cruel and unusual.

In 1980 Bobby James Moore, age 20, shotgunned a grocery clerk to death in a robbery attempt. He was convicted and sentenced to death. Since that time he has spent more than 35 years in solitary confinement in a 60 square foot iron cell for 22 and ½ hours a day. He has no TV or association with other inmates. The medical and psychological effect of this kind of incarceration has been studied extensively, and some of the results show a deterioration ranging from mild mental disability to psychosis. In short some experts consider this to be a modern version of torture.

But can the time expended on repeated postponements caused by the defendant’s own pursuits in the Byzantine appeals process in capital cases be equated with government “torture?”

It is a gruesomely fascinating exercise to trace the evolution of torture as a means to punish. Four thousand years ago the Code of Hammurabi codified punishments for particular crimes. Various penalties were prescribed, including an “eye for an eye,” ripping tongues out for false testimony, and skinning perpetrators alive.

Ross Parker

Ross Parker

A few centuries later the ancient Hebrews employed crucifixion, being thrown off cliffs, stoning, being burned alive, and being sawn in half. The classical Greeks used the Rack, the Wheel, and an early version of the Iron Maiden as forms of punishment. In their time the Romans imposed punishments of whipping, strappado, and a very inventive one involving being placed in a bag with poisonous snakes and dropped into the water. Trials by ordeal were encouraged by the Roman Catholic Church during the Middle Ages, as well as water boarding and mutilation by various specially designed tools.

During the 1700s almost all forms of torture were abolished in most European countries, but as late as a decade ago Human Rights Watch and the United Nations reported that dozens of countries still use torture as punishment. Today over three dozen nations have abolished the death penalty, but about 60 countries still include the ultimate punishment. Some of them, however, use it sparingly.

Read more »

FBI Director Comey Not Expected to Go Anywhere When Trump Becomes President

FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized FBI Director James Comey for his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

But in January, Trump is going to have to work with Comey, who is in the third year of a 10-year-term. It could be awkward.

Comey is unlikely to go anywhere, the Washington Post reports, citing officials close to the FBI director.

When Comey announced Clinton would not be prosecuted in July, Trump blamed a rigged justice system.

“It’s a bribe,” tweeted Trump. “Very very unfair! As usual, bad judgment.”

But for Comey to succeed, he will have to form a better relationship with the president-elect, said James O. Pasco, the executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police, which endorsed Trump.

“The thing about Comey is that he set himself up as a man who reports to no one,” Pasco said. “Because he reports to no one, he feels empowered to just act with his own voice. I think it’s important for any public servant to be responsive to the people that the public has elected to represent them. And I think if he does that, he’ll probably be okay.”