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Tag: Attorney General

FBI Agent Indicted in Suburban D.C. in Drunk Driving Death

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Here’s a story that has no good ending.

An FBI agent as been has been indicted by a D.C. suburban county grand jury in connection with a fatal drunk driving crash that killed an 18-year-old on Feb. 7 in Brandywine, Md.,  the Washington Examiner reported.

Washington Examiner reporter Emily Babay reported that a Prince George’s County grand jury returned a nine-count indictment against agent Adrian Johnson, 37, who was dismissed after the incident.

The paper reported that the charges include motor vehicle manslaughter, homicide by motor vehicle, driving under the influence and reckless driving.

Authorities allege that Johnson was drunk and speeding in his personal vehicle, a 2002 Mitsubishi Montero,  when he drove into oncoming traffic and  crashed into 18-year-old Lawrence Garner Jr.’s Hyundai Sonata, according to the Examiner. A passenger in Garner’s car was critically injured, but survived.

Johnson had been with the agency for six years and was preparing for an assignment of protecting the FBI director or U.S. attorney general, the paper reported.

Justice Wants to Withhold Info in Muslim Calif. Lawsuit

file photo/doj

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department feels it has good reason to hide info in a Southern California lawsuit filed by Muslims who claim the FBI monitored them because of their religion.

The Associated Press reports that Attorney General Eric Holder, in a court filing on Monday, invoked state secrets rules to try and  prevent information from being released in the case.

The filing argues that disclosure of the target of the 2006 surveillance at a mosque could hurt national security.

The story was first reported by Josh Gerstein of Politico.

In February, the ACLU of Southern California and the Los Angeles office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations sued the FBI, AP reported.

Pres. Bush Sent Alberto Gonzales to See Ashcroft in Hospital, The Atlantic Reports

Alberto Gonzales/Fox 34

By Murray Waas
The Atlantic

In March 2004, White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales made a now-famous late-night visit to the hospital room of Attorney General John Ashcroft, seeking to get Ashcroft to sign a certification stating that the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program was legal. According to people familiar with statements recently made by Gonzales to federal investigators, Gonzales is now saying that George Bush personally directed him to make that hospital visit.

The hospital visit is already central to many contemporaneous historical accounts of the Bush presidency. At the time of the visit, Ashcroft had been in intensive care for six days, was heavily medicated, and was recovering from emergency surgery to remove his gall bladder.

Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey has said that he believes that Gonzales and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, who accompanied Gonzales to Ashcroft’s hospital room, were trying to take advantage of Ashcroft’s grievously ill state—pressing him to sign the certification possibly without even comprehending what he was doing—and in the process authorize a government surveillance program which both Ashcroft and the Justice Department had concluded was of questionable legality.

To read the whole story click here.

Ex-Miss. U.S. Attorney H.M. Ray Who Served 20 Years Dies at Age 86

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Former Mississippi U.S. Attorney H.M. Ray, whose 20- year reign included the 1960s civil rights era, and who served under five presidents, died at age 86, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported.

Ray was appointed by President Kennedy to the Jackson, Miss. office, and resigned right after Ronald Reagan became president in 1981.

“We were very close. He was a great boss,” former assistant U.S. attorney John Hailman of Oxford, Miss. told the Commercial Appeal.  “Mainly, he insisted that we do the right thing. He was very courageous about taking unpopular stances, and he always backed us up.”

Some of his higher profile cases included the prosecution of  four men linked to the shooting deaths of two people during rioting over the entrance of James Meredith to the University of Mississippi in 1962, the paper reported. The men were not convicted.

Ray also served in the state House from 1948 to 1951. After resigning as U.S. Attorney,  he went off to  practice law with the Wise, Carter, Child & Caraway firm in Jackson. He then went to work for then-state Atty. Gen. Mike Moore, the Commercial Appeal reported.

“He was quite a mentor for me, and I learned a lot from him. He was a great lawyer and an even better person,”  Moore told the paper.

Column: Ex-Fed Prosecutor Weighs Pros and Cons of Legalizing Marijuana

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. Sixteen of those years were in the drug unit. He is the author of the book “Carving Out the Rule of Law: The History of the United States Attorney’s Office in Eastern Michigan 1815–2008″.

Ross Parker

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

The case for and against marijuana legalization continues to be a hotly debated issue. Weighing in, even in a subjective and limited way, is tempting after working on a history project about smugglers in the 1970s and the agents who pursued them.

Here’s the pros and cons as I see it.

There is good reason to conclude that many of the trends favor some kind of decriminalization or legalization in the United States. Many point to the growing number of states that have authorized Medical Marijuana as a key sign that we’re moving in that direction.

A dozen or so states have legislatively instituted some form of decriminalization or “harm reduction” program for use or possession of small amounts. Drug policies in several European countries such as the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, have established such a system.

Millions of dollars are being invested in a wide variety of public relations and lobbying activities, especially in states where referendums are pending. The arguments in favor of this development seem easier to grasp and calculate, and the well-financed campaigns have achieved some success in promoting this agenda.

On the other hand, proponents of the status quo seem less focused and their arguments more speculative. At times, the assumption of the hippie dealers of a half-century ago, who predicted the drug would eventually be legally available, seems a strong possibility.

Read more »

Atty. Gen. Holder Not Going Anywhere For Now

Eric Holder Jr./ticklethewire.com file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — It’s been anything but smooth sailing for Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. since he took the job on Feb. 3, 2009.  In fact, he’s often been a pinata for some key Republicans, who have bashed him at hearings time and again.

Still, despite the shuffling of people in the Obama administration, and the departure of some key figures, it appears Holder is staying put for the time being, according to Josh Gerstein of Politico.

Earlier in the week, he gave a pep talk to some 150 Justice Department employees and laid out his plan of attack in going after crime and terrorism.

“I’ve enjoyed my two years here, which is not to say that every day has been great. There have been disappointments, but there’ve also been substantial victories as well,” Holder told reporters, according to Politico. “My confidence, my faith in this department is constantly renewed as I interact with people in this department, and I see how dedicated they are — the sacrificing they do.”

“We have a long list of agenda items, and I will be pushing those over the next couple of years,” he said. “I’m happy. I’m content. My wife says I’ve got some more time. So long as she’s in the same place, I’ll be around.”

Politico reported that a senior Justice Department official said the move to prosecute Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others before a military commission has freed Holder to speak out.

“In some sense, KSM being finally over is liberating, and that’s why you’re seeing him out now doing other things that he has wanted to do all along as attorney general,” the official said, according to Politico.

“He has been working on other things near and dear to his heart as long as he’s been AG,” but they just always have “been overshadowed by KSM. That shadow is gone now,” said the official.

Column: Source Tells Politico Bush Justice Dept. Nixed Prosecution of Islamic Group Tied to Hamas


By Josh Gerstein
Politico

Under President George W. Bush, the Justice Department considered and rejected criminal charges against the Council on American-Islamic Relations for alleged support of Hamas, a knowledgeable source told POLITICO Monday.

The decision not to indict CAIR came in 2004 as prosecutors in Dallas were preparing to seek an indictment of the Holy Land Foundation and five of its officials, the source said. Some prosecutors wanted to include CAIR and others in the case at that time. However, senior Justice Department officials elected not to, the source said. (The Attorney General at the time was John Ashcroft.)

The disclosure of a Bush-era decision not to indict CAIR is noteworthy because some conservatives have alleged in recent days that a Justice Department decision last year to decline prosecution of CAIR, co-founder Omar Ahmad, and others was motivated by politics and a desire to preserve outreach efforts to U.S. Muslim groups.

To read more click here.

Fed Judge Bothered that Justice Dept. Didn’t Appeal Death Penalty Ruling in NYPD Cop Killing Case

Judge Nicholas Garaufis/wikipedia

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A Brooklyn fed judge is none too happy with the Justice Department and Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. in a case involving the murder of two New York police detectives,  the NY Daily News reported.

U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis “bristled” on Tuesday when expressing his displeasure that the Justice Department failed to  appeal to the Supreme Court a ruling by the Court of Appeals that tossed out the death penalty conviction phase for the convicted cop killer because of prosecutorial error, the Daily News reported.

The murder conviction still stands, but the U.S. Attorney’s Office wants to retry the penalty phase to go after the death penalty again for convicted cop killer Ronell Wilson , the Daily News reported. The judge, bothered that the prosecutors simply didn’t appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court, said he would not let the retrial for the penalty phase  go forward until he got a letter from Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. pledging the department’s intent to seek the death penalty, the Daily News reported.

The Daily News reported that the demand for the letter was the judge’s way of taking a shot at Holder   “in view of the fact that the attorney general failed to exhaust all appeals and abandoned the appeal of the case.”  The judge expressed concern about the emotional effects a second trial would have on the victims’ families.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has repeatedly said in the past that it is committed to retrying the death penalty phase of the case, the Daily News reported.

The attorney general must sign off when prosecutors seek the death penalty. The case was first prosecuted when  Roberto Gonzales was the attorney general.

Robert Nardoza, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, declined comment Wednesday morning. The Justice Department in Washington also declined comment.