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Tag: ATF

Motions Alleging ATF Racism Given More Time

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

A Wichita federal judge has granted more time for  motions related to charges that a federal firearms sting was racially motivated,  reports LJWorld.com.

Defense lawyers are seeking to drop charges against black defendants charged in the ATF investigation, claiming the charges were racially motivated. At least 43 of 51 defendants in the case are black.

The government claims the race arguments against the suspects are bogus.

ATF to Ditch the Blackberry

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

By Bye Blackberry.

Daid Saleh Rauf of Politico reports that ATF plans to ditch the Blackberry phone “largely in favor of the iPhone.”

“We’re going to delete the BlackBerry from the mix,” Rick Holgate, ATF’s chief information officer, said in an interview, according to Politico.

To read more click here.

 

Feds Join Investigation of Vegas Mosque Fire

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Federal authorities have joined in on an investigation into a fire at the construction site of a cemetery and funeral home intended to serve the Islamic community in Las Vegas, reports the Las Vegas Sun. But the leader of the Islamic Society of Nevada does not believe the fire was the result of a hate crime.

“I don’t think it was a hate crime,” said Khalid Khan, president of the society. “It’s my opinion.”

The fire occurred at 1 am on Wednesday, bringing a two-alarm response from the county fire department, according to the Sun.

The investigation team–consisting of the local fire department, the city police, the FBI and the ATF–has not yet determined a cause for the fire.

To read more click here.

Uzbekistan Man Pleads Guilty to Terrorism Charges in Ala. and Threatening to Kill Pres. Obama in Fed Sting

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
 
Alabama isn’t exactly considered a hotbed of terrorism activity.

But on Friday, an Uzbek national living in the U.S. pleaded in Birmingham, Ala., to providing material support to terrorist activities and threatening to kill President Obama — all as part of a federal sting.

Ulugbek Kodirov, 22, of Uzbekistan, becomes the first person to be convicted of providing material support to terrorist activity in the Northern District of Alabama. He had been indicted on the charges in July.

U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance praised the investigative work and prompt action of the Joint Terrorism Task Force for the Northern District of Alabama. “Today, Ulugbek Kodirov became the first person to be convicted of providing material support to terrorist activity in this district,” U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance said in a statement. “Kodirov was apprehended during an undercover operation in which he was attempting to obtain weapons and explosives that he intended to use to kill the president of the United States. Effective action by law enforcement protected our community and potentially our country.” she said.

“I also want to express my appreciation to the Muslim community of Birmingham, which was instrumental in helping law enforcement shut down this threat,” Vance said.

Authorities charged that Kodirov was in communication with someone he thought was a member of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), which has been declared a terrorist organization by the State Department. Kodirov had a student visa, but never enrolled in school.

The case was investigated by the FBI, ATF, ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations and Secret Service.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST:

 

Baltimore Co. Man Gets 8 Years for Threatening to Kill an ATF Task Force Officer

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

A Baltimore County man was sentenced to eight years on Tuesday for threatening to kill an ATF  task force officer, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore said. After prison, Allen Shepperd, 38, will be on supervised release for three years.

According to Shepperd’s plea agreement, the Baltimore County Police Department and ATF identified Shepperd as a primary suspect in the arson of a horse barn that had burned down in Monkton, Md. on Aug. 26, 2010.

On March 8, 2011, a Baltimore County detective and an ATF Task Force officer went to the Baltimore County Detention Center where Shepperd had been detained to serve a state indictment on Shepperd, charging him with arson, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Shepperd became very agitated and said he would shoot the ATF task force officer in the head, and when he got out of jail he would meet the officer at restaurant and neither of them would come out alive.

Shepperd held his hand up, imitating a pistol, and pointed it directly at the ATF officer.

Investigators also had recordings of Shepperd telling an  individual and his father in which he repeated the threats, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

 

Dem Staff Report Says Top Justice Officials Did Not Give Green Light for Fast and Furious

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A report issued late Monday night by the Democrats on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform tries to debunk suggestions by Republicans that high level appointees at the Justice Department conceived and directed the very flawed ATF Operation Fast and Furious. It places the blame for the operation squarely on the agents in Phoenix.

“This report debunks many unsubstantiated conspiracy theories,” Representative Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), the top ranking Democrat,  wrote in a cover letter for the detailed report. “Contrary to repeated claims by some, the committee has obtained no evidence that Operation Fast and Furious was a politically motivated operation conceived and directed by high-level Obama administration political appointees at the Department of Justice.”

“The documents obtained and interviews conducted by the Committee indicate that it was the latest in a series of reckless and fatally flawed operations run by ATF’s Phoenix Field Division during both the previous and current administrations,” Cummings wrote.

The report counters repeated claims by Republicans like Committee Chair Darrell Issa (R-Calif) that top ranking Justice Dept. officials gave the green light for  Fast and Furious.  Under the operation, ATF’s Phoenix office encouraged gun dealers to sell to “straw purchasers”, all with the hopes of tracing the guns to the Mexican cartels.  Some of the weapons surfaced at crime scenes including at the murder scene in Arizona of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.  Many Republicans have called for Atty. Gen. Eric Holder and Lanny Breuer, head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, to resign.

The report is expected to be met with skepticism by many Republicans and critics of ATF, which has come under intense scrutiny, and has undergone a major shakeup in management. Holder is scheduled to appear before Issa’s and Cumming’s committee on Thursday where he’s likely to get a grilling from the Republicans.

Cummings, who has sometimes been at odds with Issa over Fast and Furious, said in a press release  that the minority staff report was the result “of the Committee’s year-long investigation into the actions and circumstances that led to multiple gunwalking operations in Arizona from 2006 to 2010.”

The report concludes that the ATF Phoenix office failed to use sufficient controls to stop weapons from getting into the hands of violent criminals.

“Although this report provides a great amount of detail about what we have learned to date, it has several shortcomings,” Cummings wrote in his letter. “Despite requests from me and others, the Committee never held a hearing or even conducted an interview with former Attorney General Michael Mukasey. The Committee obtained documents indicating that in 2007 he was personally informed about the failure of previous law enforcement operations involving the illegal smuggling of weapons into Mexico, and that he received a proposal to expand these operations. Since the Committee failed to speak with Mr. Mukasey, we do not have the benefit of his input about why these operations were allowed to continue after he was given this information.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings/govt. photo

“The Committee also rejected my request to hold a public hearing with Kenneth Melson, the former Acting Director of ATF, the agency primarily responsible for these operations. Although Committee staff conducted an interview with Mr. Melson, the public has not had an opportunity to hear his explanations for why these operations continued for so many years without adequate oversight from ATF headquarters.”

The report states that in 2006, ATF agents in Phoenix initiated Operation Wide Receiver with the cooperation of a local gun dealer.

“For months, ATF agents watched in realtime as traffickers purchased guns and drove them across the border into Mexico,” the report states.

The report also states “that ATF’s former Acting Director, Kenneth Melson, and ATF’s Deputy Director, William Hoover, told Committee staff that gunwalking violated agency doctrine,that they did not approve it, and that they were not aware that ATF agents in Phoenix were using the tactic in Operation Fast and Furious. They also stated that, because they did not know about the use of gunwalking in Operation Fast and Furious, they never raised it up the chain of command to senior Justice Department officials.”

The report further stated: “Former Phoenix U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke told Committee staff that although he received multiple briefings on Operation Fast and Furious, he did not approve gunwalking, was not aware it was being used, and did not inform officials in Washington about its use.”

“He told Committee staff that, at the time he approved the proposal for a broader strategy targeting cartel leaders instead of straw purchasers, he had been informed that there was no probable cause to make any arrests and that he had been under the impression that ATF agents were working closely with Mexican officials to interdict weapons.”

The report goes on to state: “Gary Grindler, the former Acting Deputy Attorney General, and Lanny Breuer, the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, both stated that neither ATF nor the U.S. Attorney’s Office ever brought to their attention concerns about gunwalking in Operation Fast and Furious, and that, if they had been told, they ‘would have stopped it.’”

“When allegations of gunwalking three years earlier in Operation Wide Receiver were brought to the attention of Mr. Breuer in 2010, he immediately directed his deputy to share their concerns directly with ATF’s leadership. He testified, however, that he regretted not raising these concerns directly with the Attorney General or Deputy Attorney General, stating, “if I had known then what I know now, I, of course, would have told the Deputy and the Attorney General.”

“The Committee has obtained no evidence indicating that the Attorney General authorized gunwalking or that he was aware of such allegations before they became public. None of the 22 witnesses interviewed by the Committee claims to have spoken with the Attorney General about the specific tactics employed in Operation Fast and Furious prior to the public controversy.”

Dem Staff Report Says Top Justice Officials Did Not Give Green Light for Fast and Furious

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A report issued late Monday night by the Democrats on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform tries to debunk suggestions by Republicans that high level appointees at the Justice Department conceived and directed the very flawed ATF Operation Fast and Furious. It places the blame for the operation squarely on the agents in Phoenix.

“This report debunks many unsubstantiated conspiracy theories,” Representative Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), the top ranking Democrat,  wrote in a cover letter for the detailed report. “Contrary to repeated claims by some, the committee has obtained no evidence that Operation Fast and Furious was a politically motivated operation conceived and directed by high-level Obama administration political appointees at the Department of Justice.”

“The documents obtained and interviews conducted by the Committee indicate that it was the latest in a series of reckless and fatally flawed operations run by ATF’s Phoenix Field Division during both the previous and current administrations,” Cummings wrote.

The report counters repeated claims by Republicans like Committee Chair Darrell Issa (R-Calif) that top ranking Justice Dept. officials gave the green light for  Fast and Furious.  Under the operation, ATF’s Phoenix office encouraged gun dealers to sell to “straw purchasers”, all with the hopes of tracing the guns to the Mexican cartels.  Some of the weapons surfaced at crime scenes including at the murder scene in Arizona of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.  Many Republicans have called for Atty. Gen. Eric Holder and Lanny Breuer, head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, to resign.

The report is expected to be met with skepticism by many Republicans and critics of ATF, which has come under intense scrutiny, and has undergone a major shakeup in management. Holder is scheduled to appear before Issa’s and Cumming’s committee on Thursday where he’s likely to get a grilling from the Republicans.

Cummings, who has sometimes been at odds with Issa over Fast and Furious, said in a press release  that the minority staff report was the result “of the Committee’s year-long investigation into the actions and circumstances that led to multiple gunwalking operations in Arizona from 2006 to 2010.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings/govt. photo

The report concludes that the ATF Phoenix office failed to use sufficient controls to stop weapons from getting into the hands of violent criminals.

“Although this report provides a great amount of detail about what we have learned to date, it has several shortcomings,” Cummings wrote in his letter. “Despite requests from me and others, the Committee never held a hearing or even conducted an interview with former Attorney General Michael Mukasey. The Committee obtained documents indicating that in 2007 he was personally informed about the failure of previous law enforcement operations involving the illegal smuggling of weapons into Mexico, and that he received a proposal to expand these operations. Since the Committee failed to speak with Mr. Mukasey, we do not have the benefit of his input about why these operations were allowed to continue after he was given this information.”

“The Committee also rejected my request to hold a public hearing with Kenneth Melson, the former Acting Director of ATF, the agency primarily responsible for these operations. Although Committee staff conducted an interview with Mr. Melson, the public has not had an opportunity to hear his explanations for why these operations continued for so many years without adequate oversight from ATF headquarters.”

The report states that in 2006, ATF agents in Phoenix initiated Operation Wide Receiver with the cooperation of a local gun dealer.

“For months, ATF agents watched in realtime as traffickers purchased guns and drove them across the border into Mexico,” the report states.

The report also states “that ATF’s former Acting Director, Kenneth Melson, and ATF’s Deputy Director, William Hoover, told Committee staff that gunwalking violated agency doctrine,that they did not approve it, and that they were not aware that ATF agents in Phoenix were using the tactic in Operation Fast and Furious. They also stated that, because they did not know about the use of gunwalking in Operation Fast and Furious, they never raised it up the chain of command to senior Justice Department officials.”

The report further stated: “Former Phoenix U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke told Committee staff that although he received multiple briefings on Operation Fast and Furious, he did not approve gunwalking, was not aware it was being used, and did not inform officials in Washington about its use.”

“He told Committee staff that, at the time he approved the proposal for a broader strategy targeting cartel leaders instead of straw purchasers, he had been informed that there was no probable cause to make any arrests and that he had been under the impression that ATF agents were working closely with Mexican officials to interdict weapons.”

The report goes on to state: “Gary Grindler, the former Acting Deputy Attorney General, and Lanny Breuer, the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, both stated that neither ATF nor the U.S. Attorney’s Office ever brought to their attention concerns about gunwalking in Operation Fast and Furious, and that, if they had been told, they ‘would have stopped it.’”

“When allegations of gunwalking three years earlier in Operation Wide Receiver were brought to the attention of Mr. Breuer in 2010, he immediately directed his deputy to share their concerns directly with ATF’s leadership. He testified, however, that he regretted not raising these concerns directly with the Attorney General or Deputy Attorney General, stating, “if I had known then what I know now, I, of course, would have told the Deputy and the Attorney General.”

“The Committee has obtained no evidence indicating that the Attorney General authorized gunwalking or that he was aware of such allegations before they became public. None of the 22 witnesses interviewed by the Committee claims to have spoken with the Attorney General about the specific tactics employed in Operation Fast and Furious prior to the public controversy.”

 

Obama Admin. Announces New Regs for Gun Operations in Wake of Fast and Furious

atf file photo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

New changes in federal law enforcement have emerged from the highly contentious Fast & Furious operation, reports Reuters.

On Friday, the Obama administration announced reforms intended to improve undercover gun trafficking investigations in the wake of a failed operation which let hundreds of guns into the hands of violent criminals along the US-Mexico border.

The new reforms demand more oversight of undercover operations, according to Reuters, focusing on investigations concerning more than 50 firearms and ending the use of payed gun dealers as confidential informants.

To read more click here.