Links

Columnists



Site Search


Entire (RSS)
Comments (RSS)

Archive Calendar

June 2021
S M T W T F S
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930  

Guides

How to Become a Bounty Hunter



Uncategorized

Atty. Gen. Holder Needs to Step Up and Take Responsibility for ATF’s Fast and Furious

 

Atty. Gen. Holder before House Judiciary /ticklethewire.com file photo

 
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. is an honorable man.

So I believe him when he tells Congress he didn’t know about ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious until the controversy exploded in 2011.

The problem is that he needs to take responsibility for it. Period. He’s the top dog. People in his organization had some inkling last year that they might be sitting on a political stink bomb. They should have given him a heads up. They need to take responsibility as well.

It’s like the household where the kids hide matches in the house and play with them all the time, and one day burn down their neighbor’s garage. Yes, the parents can tell the neighbor “sorry”, but they also have to take some responsibility even if they had no clue the kids were always playing with matches.

CBS News recently reported that “two Justice Department officials mulled it over in an email exchange Oct. 18, 2010.”

“It’s a tricky case given the number of guns that have walked but is a significant set of prosecutions,” said Jason Weinstein, Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division. Deputy Chief of the National Gang Unit James Trusty replied “I’m not sure how much grief we get for ‘guns walking.’ It may be more like, ‘Finally they’re going after people who sent guns down there.’”

That sounds to me like someone in the Justice Department figured out the department was playing with matches by carrying out a program that encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to middlemen, all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels. Yes, they contemplated that someone could get burned.

We need to clean up this mess sooner than later. One helpful step along the way would be for Holder to say something to the effect: “Sure I didn’t know about Fast and Furious until the controversy erupted, but I take full responsibility and I want to find out why I wasn’t apprised of something so significant that endangered lives and had international implications.”

p.s. Atty. Gen. Holder, feel free to use that quote.

 

Shame on the Justice Dept. For Screwing Families in Boston Murder Cases

 

Whitey Bulger

 
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The U.S. Justice Department can feel proud that an appeals court Thursday essentially upheld its right to screw the families whose relatives were allegedly murdered by Boston gangster James J. “Whitey’’ Bulger.

Bulger was working as an FBI informant and running wild, and a Boston federal judge back in 2009 awarded the families nearly $8.5 million, saying the government was negligent when it essentially let informant Bulger — under its watch — get away with murder. Bulger was linked to the 1982 murders of Michael Donahue and Edward “Brian’’ Halloran, who were both gunned down on the Boston waterfront in 1982.

In February, an Appeals Court panel ruled 2-1 to vacate the award,  agreeing with the Justice Department, which argued that the families had not filed their claims for damages in time.  The Boston Globe reported on Thursday that the Appeals Court ruled 3-3 on the matter, letting stand the 2-1 decision.

Congratulations to the Justice Department. Yes, it was legally right.  Ethically and morally, it was very very wrong. But in Washington, winning is often more important than doing the right thing.

Interestingly, the court said in its ruling, according to the Globe: “Under the Constitution, federal courts may not make decisions based on sympathy. The legal issue presented by these cases is not whether the conduct of the FBI was shameful; it was. It is not whether plaintiffs are victims of that conduct; they are.’’

Perhaps the dissenting opinion from Judge Juan R. Torruella put it best:

“James ‘Whitey’ Bulger has finally been apprehended and is now being haled into the federal courthouse in Boston to answer for the crimes he allegedly committed years ago. But, unlike Bulger himself, thanks to the panel majority’s decision and the full court’s refusal to reverse it, Bulger’s most trusted associate, the Boston FBI office, has gotten away with murder.’’

One lawyer for the  family told the Globe that he would try to convince the Supreme Court to take up the appeal. I don’t think it’s likely to take up the case since there’s no great legal precedent here; just a matter of right and wrong.

The Justice Department should have simply paid out the money. But nooo.

Yes, the Justice Department has good lawyers. And yes, they won. But winning isn’t always everything, particularly when the Justice Department looks like the real loser here.

 

Management Shakeup Expected at ATF


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

With acting ATF Director B. Todd Jones in place, and the new fiscal year beginning, rumors are swirling about that ATF is soon expected to make a lot of changes in top management, which will result in a serious round of musical chairs.

One rumor circulating within ATF is that Thomas E. Brandon, who had just recently moved from Detroit to Phoenix to help clean up the mess in wake of the disastrous Operation Fast and Furious, will be headed to Washington to take on a senior leadership role.

Agents around the country have told tickethewire.com that Brandon has the respect of fellow agents.

The changes come in wake of the controversy over Operation Fast and Furious, which encouraged Arizona firearms dealers to sell to questionable straw purchasers, all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels. ATF lost track of some weapons, and some surfaced at crimes scenes on both sides of the border.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)  and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ia.)  have  been investigating the fall out from  Operation Fast and Furious and have been raising questions about ATF’s leadership.

In the midst of their probe,  ATF acting director Ken Melson stepped down to head over to a post at the Justice Department. In stepped Jones, who has kept his post as U.S. Attorney in Minnesota.

The White House had nominated Andrew Traver, head of the ATF’s Chicago office, to become the new director. But his confirmation process got stalled, and the NRA put up a strong fight against him.

At this point, it appears Traver’s nomination will simply die out for lack of momentum. And it’s not likely that the Obama administration will spend its political capital trying to get any director confirmed before the election in November 2012.

Rumors have been circulating that the Justice Department wants to fold ATF into the FBI, but a federal source said that won’t happen.

The Examiner.com reported last week that there were rumors of  “a possible big shake up” at ATF,   but gave no specifics.

 

Rumor Mill Working Overtime as Controversy Bubbles Between FBI and LA Sheriff’s Dept.

 Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The rumor mill has been working over time involving the controversy between FBI and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Sheriff Lee Baca is fuming that the FBI didn’t tell him about its investigation into inmate abuse, or the fact that the FBI, in an undercover sting, paid a sheriff’s deputy about $1,500 to sneak a cellphone into an inmate who happened to be an FBI informant. When  Baca learned of it all, he was none too happy.

The sheriff announced an investigation into the whole matter and into the sheriff’s deputy who snuck the phone in the jail. The deputy has since resigned, the LA Times reported. It is a crime to sneak a phone into the jail.

Things have been heating up.

A source tells ticklethewire.com that sheriff’s deputies on Monday night visited the home of the FBI case agent in the matter and told her they planned to arrest her. They did not on Monday. On Wednesday, after ticklethewire.com reported the incident, Sheriff Baca told the Los Angeles Times of the possibility of charging the agent:  “No, I don’t think so. It’s not worthy of pursuing, in view of the greater good.” He said the agent directed the deputies’ questions to her supervisor,and Baca dismissed suggestions the visit by deputies was intended to intimidate the agent.”

At the same time, word began circulating this week that the case agent’s supervisor,  Victor Cockrell, an FBI supervisor in the Los Angeles civil rights division, which was handling the case, suddenly decided to retire. Some suggested there might be a connection between the retirement and the case.

But Cockrell told ticklethewire.com on Wednesday that his decision to retire has nothing whatsoever to do with the case.

“It was time to retire,” he said. “I have served my country and it’s time to do something else.”

He declined to comment on the case, saying it would be inappropriate to comment on any case.

Laura Eimiller, a spokeswoman for the FBI Los Angeles office, told ticklethewire.com on Wednesday via email: “Mr. Cockrell’s comment speaks for itself and we wish him the very best.”

Regarding the overall investigation, she told the Times: “With regard to the investigation, FBI agents at all times were acting within the course and scope of their duties and were in compliance with FBI policy and practices.”

Whatever the case, people in law enforcement in Los Angeles have been talking about the controversy, which is sure to percolate  for a while.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

 

Georgia May Have Killed More than Troy Davis

Troy Davis

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

No one can defend a convicted cop killer. That’s easy to say.

But they can if there’s a question as to whether the person killed the cop, and if the state has decided to execute that person with so much evidence in doubt.

At 11:08 p.m. Wednesday night, the  state of Georgia executed Troy Davis, who was convicted in 1991 of killing Georgia cop Mark MacPhail, who was working as a security guard at the time of shooting. Several witnesses have recanted key testimony. The evidence is thin.

The Pope had weighed in on the matter. He had asked the state of Georgia to reconsider. So did folks like ex-FBI Director William Sessions, who had serious doubts about the case.

This isn’t a pro or anti-death penalty issue.  It’s not a conservative or liberal issue — at least not the way I see it.

It’s really an issue of whether our justice system has a conscience, whether it cares if it puts someone to death when so much evidence is in question.

The Supreme Court rejected a last minute bid to halt the execution. So did the Georgia pardons board.

Georgia may have just killed one guy, Troy Davis, who may or may not have killed the officer.

It also killed the faith some had in our system.

I’d love to hear your opinion. Send any comments to lengela@ticklethewire.com or feel free to post a comment below.

ticklethewire.com Salutes Federal Law Enforcement in Its Battle Against Terrorism and Honors Those Who Died on Sept. 11, 2001

istock image

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

I still remember walking down Connecticut Avenue in Washington, headed to the subway, when I ran into a friend who told me that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.

About 20 minutes later, when I got off the subway downtown at the Farragut North stop, I bumped into an editor at the Washington Post who told me the city was under attack. There was eerie feeling in the city. Some people were already heading home even though they had just gotten downtown. There was a sense of chaos. A sense of fear. A sense of uncertainty.

When I got into the Post newsroom, everyone was standing around television sets, watching the events of Sept. 11 unfold. Shortly after, we all got our assignments for the day.

In the days that followed, I felt like life would never be the same, we would never feel safe again. We all felt so vulnerable. A few days later, I was at the BWI airport near Baltimore, waiting for a flight to Detroit to report on a story for the Post. Everyone in line was looking at everyone else, paranoid, looking to see if there were any potential terrorists.

Thankfully, in time, a sense of normalcy returned to our lives. But we knew things would never be the same, from the the airport experience to concerns about abandon packages to the threat of al Qaeda.

We learned about Code Orange. We saw law enforcement change, most notably the FBI, that shifted significant resources to address counterterrorism. We got involved in two wars.

Since 9/11, federal law enforcement has unearthed a number of terrorist plots. It deserves a great deal of credit.

Granted, things haven’t been perfect. Some folks at the FBI aren’t happy with the way resources were divided up. Groups like the ACLU have raised questions about privacy, about stings, about civil rights, about torture. Republicans and Democrats have had heated debates about the proper venue to prosecute suspected terrorists and about reading Miranda Warnings. Politics have sometimes hijacked the true concerns about terrorism.

Federal law enforcement can’t stop everything. It can’t make us feel 100 percent safe. And yes, it can still improve upon what its done and how it does it. But it deserves a great deal of credit for the job its done since 9/11.

It ain’t easy and it won’t be in the future.

Ex-FBI Agent and Prolific Author Paul Lindsay: He Did It His Way

Paul Lindsay, the hard-digging ex-Detroit FBI agent who became a prolific author, and wrote seven novels — the last two of which were N.Y. Times best sellers — died peacefully Thursday night at a Boston hospital of pneumonia with his family by his side. He had been battling leukemia.

Paul Lindsay/simon & schuster photo

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

Paul Lindsay – He did it his way.

I first met Paul Lindsay in 1975. I had arrived in Detroit fresh from new agents’ class and was assigned to the fugitive squad. Paul ended up being my training agent.

Ordinarily Paul wouldn’t have been assigned a new agent to train – back then Paul wasn’t known for his patience or warmth, and he didn’t suffer fools. New agents tend to be a little foolish, and I was no exception. The guy, who was supposed to be my training agent, was involved in a trial. Paul was his partner so he was stuck with me by default. We didn’t exactly hit it off in the beginning.

Ultimately Paul accepted me, not because I had any great skills or talent, but because I showed that I was willing to work ridiculous hours and to learn.

Paul taught me much.

Paul had earned a reputation as one of the best fugitive agents in the Bureau – he was very good at finding guys who didn’t want to be found. What I learned from Paul was there were no great secrets or tricks to finding fugitives. It entailed hard work and perseverance. But Paul didn’t just work hard. He employed imagination and intelligence.

I eventually moved on to different squads and different violations, but I used the lessons I learned from Paul throughout my career in the FBI. Paul moved on too and later would apply his considerable talents to cold cases and serial killers.

Paul also had a talent for creative writing. He wrote his first book in 1992 while he was still an agent in Detroit. That first book caused some controversy because Paul was not reticent about criticizing some thinly disguised, but still recognizable characters. Usually those characters were in Bureau management.

It also was no coincidence that the heroes of Paul’s books displayed perseverance, intelligence and imagination. Paul’s book (and those that followed) also displayed Paul’s keen rapier like wit – rapier like because Paul was adept at skewered many inflated egos.

Earlier this year, I wrote a review for Paul’s most recent book, Agent X. In that review I described the hero, Steve Vail, as being a “blue-collar intellectual.” Paul wrote me: “If asked to I could have never reduced Vail to a two-word description; “blue-collar intellect” is pretty nifty.” Well I may have been able to reduce Vail to a two word description, but I can’t think of two words, standing alone, that would come close to doing Paul justice.

Paul was not a two dimensional character. He was a multi-dimensional man, who played many roles: husband, father, friend, Marine officer, FBI agent, author, mentor…. He approached those roles, indeed life, with passion, and he did it his way.

“For what is a man, what has he got? If not himself, then he has naught. To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels. The record shows I took the blows and did it my way!” *

Paul has taken his well-deserved place in the pantheon of FBI legend. He would like that. He embodied the FBI motto: fidelity, bravery, integrity.

*(Frank Sinatra/”My Way,” copyright EMI Music publishing).

 

 

 

 

We Have a Right to Bear Arms; We Also Have a Right to Live

 
 
 
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

I’m all for the right to bear arms. The constitution says we can.

That being said, guns and semi-automatic rifles are a dangerous enough commodity — like prescription morphine and oxycodone — that they need to be regulated — particularly when they end up in the hands of the violent Mexican cartels.

I bring this up because the NRA and other gun rights groups like the National Shooting Sports Foundation are up in arms over a newly implemented ATF regulation that requires U.S. gun dealers in U.S. states bordering Mexico to report the sale within five business days of two or more semi-automatic rifles capable of using detachable magazines.

The problem is that many of those guns from those states like Texas and Arizona are flooding into Mexico and into the hands of drug cartels, who are committing mass murder at a staggering rate. The cartels have also spread their tentacles into the U.S.

The new ATF regulation is not magic bullet to stop the flow of illegal guns to Mexico. But every little bit helps. And reporting multiple sales of assault rifles raises a red flag. Sorry. But if you buy 10 assault rifles in two days, the government should have the right to ask WHY?

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has filed a lawsuit to try and block the regulation, which took effect Aug. 14. It says it abhors the violence in Mexico, but says ATF is violating peoples’ rights.

NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Lawrence G. Keane issued a statement this week about the ATF requirement for border states: “This is the proverbial ‘slippery slope.’ Our industry abhors the criminal misuse of firearms, whether on the streets of El Paso or in Juarez, Mexico. Though we can understand ATF’s motive is to try to curtail violence in Mexico, Congress simply has not granted ATF regulatory carte blanche.”

It’s hardly carte blanche.

Maybe Mr. Keane should head to Juarez, Mexico and see what carte blanche really is. Carte blanche down there is what the Mexican cartels have, killing at will, intimidating and murdering police, thanks, at least in part, to the steady flow of our American guns that wind up in Mexico.

That’s carte blanche.

Sure, we as Americans have a right to bear arms. But we as Americans have a right to live — as do our neighbors to the south.

READER  COMMENTS

I wanted to voice concerns about several of the implicit viewpoints expressed in your article. I think if you read what I have to say, and my references, you will likely come to agree with me.

1. Semi-automatic rifles are a danger to society.
FACT: Semi-automatic “assault rifles” are responsible for less than 1% of all gun-related crime in the US, including mass shootings.[1]

2: US-bought guns are “flooding into Mexico” and are in some large part responsible for the violence there.
FACT: One often-misreported statistic is responsible for this claim, that “95% of all guns seized at crime sites in Mexico come from the US.” [2] The number that they are referring to is the percentage of weapons submitted to the ATF for tracing that can be traced back to the US.  However, the fact of the matter is that the Mexican State Police only submit to the ATF for tracing those weapons which they already suspect of coming from America. In other words, the sample is BADLY biased. More recent estimates for the total number of guns used in crimes in Mexico that come from the US are on the order of 30%, and most of the news agencies that previously reported the erroneous numbers on the order of 70, 90, or even 95% have been made to retract those statements.[5]

Gen. Douglass Fraser, head of the US Southern Command, confirms this “Over 50 percent of the military-type weapons that are flowing throughout the region have a large source between Central American stockpiles, if you will, left over from wars and conflicts in the past,”
[3]

And, this ties into our next discussion point, but through Operation Fast and Furious, the ATF was directly responsible for moving as many as 2,500 guns into Mexico. [4]

My main point here, however, is that the majority of the guns used in crimes in Mexico and South America come from South American governments (and in some cases, indirectly from the US government, through BATF operation Fast and Furious, and also via US government military support to countries such as El Salvador, which have a history of government and military corruption that ends up placing many of these weapons (military weapons, much more deadly in many cases than the ones sold in US gun shops) in the hands of criminals after they’re sold or stolen from the government.

3. It is reasonable for the ATF to require US gun dealers in certain states to report on certain “assault rifle” sales.
FACT: Obama is using ATF regulatory actions to enact laws and requirements that would not likely pass through congress. I will not dispute here the fact that perhaps some more gun control is needed, however this type of action should be undertaken by congress, with the consent of the people, not by executive order. When executive order by a single man is sufficient to restrict civil liberties and monitor or prosecute individuals without due process, then we all have cause for concern. Furthermore, the ATF has a long history of botching everything it lays its hands on [7], so I submit to you that the ATF as it stands today is hardly an agency to trust with our civil liberties, including the right to bear arms.

I hope that in the future, you will read up a bit more on the topics which you discuss, and hopefully fix your website so that people like myself can register and submit comments on the articles you write. In the case of this article, you’ve really missed the mark, in my opinion. The bottom line is that more government control over individuals is not the answer. If we want to help with Mexico’s problem, we should stop selling (or giving) arms to South American governments, and we should better secure our border.

Sincerely,
Conlaw Bloganon

References:
[1] Kopel, David. “Rational Basis Analysis of “Assault Weapon” Prohibition,” 1994 Journal of Contemporary Law; Vol. 20:381-417.

[2] http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2008-12-10-drugwar_N.htm

[3] http://latindispatch.com/2011/04/27/drug-cartels-in-mexico-and-colombia-allegedly-supplied-with-weapons-from-honduran-military/

[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Fast_and_Furious

[5] http://www.factcheck.org/2009/04/counting-mexicos-guns/

[6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Firearms_Act

[7] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BATF#Controversy

**************

The bill of rights does not give the citizens anything, Instead it recognizes a basic rights of men. If you are religious a God given right.
The guns going to Mexico were sent there by the ATF, US Government . So it could enact more illegal gun control laws, such as the long gun reporting now being illegally enacted by the ATF. They have no such authority, only Congress can write laws.
I realize that you think that I am a idiot along with all my brothers whom will not submit to the the illegal laws. Molon Labe

************************

It’s a mystery to me how anyone in their right mind could complain about this kind of minimally invasive regulation.  What legitimate gun owner could need multiple assault weapons at one time, and still worry that the government would know in five days about the purchase?  If the guns are legal, does anyone buy the silly argument that regulation means confiscation?  I mean, don’t they wonder why it hasn’t happened yet with all those “burdensome” restrictions that have been around for decades?  They’ve got to stop drinking the Kool Aid!

Attorney James Burdick