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Tag: Congress

Part 2: What We Can Do to Confront the Threat of New Designer Drugs from China

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. This is the second in a two-part series.  To read the first part, click here.
 
By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

Part one of this report discussed the menace of a new generation of synthetic designer drugs from China causing a public health crisis in Europe. In America, in the last two years, enterprising rogue Chinese chemists have introduced hundreds of these new chemical combinations into the market.

This plague in America  is steadily growing worse.  Law enforcement and medical experts believe that the tens of thousands of reported cases in hospitals in the last year are just the tip of the iceberg. These numbers have essentially doubled just in the last year. The rate of reporting by the agencies like DAWN, which records emergency room admissions, and NFLIS, which keeps track of law enforcement laboratory tests on drugs, is a bleak harbinger of things to come.

Unless aggressive action is taken, we can expect the same panic the British are experiencing from this onslaught. On a more optimistic note, there are positive steps that can be taken and virtually all individuals and groups can have a role in this defense. This part will outline a strategy which can meet this oncoming crisis.

Parents —– Since the victims are largely teenagers living at home, the first line of defense has to be the parents. At a minimum all parents of teens and pre-teens should have a frank and two-sided conversation to educate their children on the life-threatening effects of these drugs, which are deceptively packaged and marketed as a “legal high.”

Teens think they are immortal and the prospect of some exciting new forbidden experience can be irresistible. Information and misinformation about the synthetics are spread by friends and acquaintances, and the availability is cheap and accessible. Many of these new consumers are naïve about drugs in general, as well as their dangers.

A teenage boy in North Dakota is currently facing murder charges because he gave a single tablet of a synthetic drug to a friend. The friend died shortly after ingesting it at a party. The consequences of such single acts are beyond the comprehension of most teens.

Read more »

Weekend Series on Crime History: J. Edgar Hoover Testifies on the Hill About Gambling

httpv://youtu.be/PpYwX7cHk2c

Justice Department Faces Serious Cuts If Sequestration Isn’t Avoided Today

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire

The Justice Department faces $1.6 billion in cuts – nearly 10% of it budget – if Congress and the White House can’t reach an agreement on the nation’s spending plan by later today, NPR reports.

Obama earlier warned of big cuts to federal law enforcement.

“FBI Agents will be furloughed,” Obama warned. “Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go.”

Attorney General Eric Holder said a sequestration would be painful, NPR reported.

“Under sequestration, we’ll do the best that we can to minimize the harm that actually occurs as a result,” Holder said. “But the reality is that there is going to be harm. There is going to be pain, and the American people are going to be less safe. That is just a fundamental reality that people have got to get their heads around.”

Other Stories of Interest

 

ATF Revitalization Plans Face Opposition

Todd Jones

 
By Sari Horwitz and Peter Finn
Washington Post

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration’s plans to energize the embattled agency that regulates the firearms industry and investigates gun violence are already running into trouble on Capitol Hill, foreshadowing the difficulties facing the president as he moves to advance his gun-control agenda.

President Obama announced his choice of B. Todd Jones to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives last month as a key element in his sweeping slate of gun proposals after the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn.

Obama urged Congress to quickly confirm Jones in an effort to embolden an agency that has long operated with limited resources and a part-time director who splits his time between Minneapolis and Washington. Since then, Senate Republicans have indicated they may block Jones’s appointment and have demanded to know more about his role in several operations and policy decisions. They have also expressed lingering suspicions about the agency, noting that it has been dogged by a series of debacles, some of them self-inflicted.

To read full story click here.

Editorial: ATF Left Without Teeth to Enforce Gun Laws

San Francisco Chronicle
Editorial

One of the gun lobby’s favorite mantras is that the nation doesn’t need any more laws to keep weapons out of the hands of criminals; it needs to start by enforcing those that are on the books.

But that argument evaporates upon closer inspection of the federal government’s systems for tracking and restricting gun sales. Congress, under pressure from the gun lobby, has made it about as cumbersome as possible for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to do its job.

As the New York Times reported last week, ATF has been operating without a permanent director for six years, mostly because the Senate has stalled confirmation proceedings. ATF’s budget has remained stagnant throughout a post-9/11 period in which almost all other law enforcement and national security endeavors have been showered with resources.

To read more click here.

 STORIES OF OTHER INTEREST

 

Former FBI Cybersecurity Official Steven Chabinsky Thinks FBI is Doing Great Job, But Government Could Do Better

The FBI’s former top attorney for cybersecurity, Steven Chabinsky, who stepped down this month, thinks the FBI is doing a great job battling the problem, but told the Washington Post that the “federal government” has taken a “failed approach” by focusing on reducing vulnerabilities rather than actively deterring attackers.

Ticklethewire.com, in summing up the Washington Post article, mistakenly wrote that Chabinsky criticized the FBI’s efforts, when in fact he was referring to the country’s overall defensive approach to cybersecurity, which he believes does not focus enough on identifying and deterring the adversary.

The article also mistakenly said that the “bureau focuses too heavily on setting security standards,” when in fact the Washington Post story reported that the security standards have been a goal of Congress and the Obama administration, not the FBI.

In an email to ticklethewire.com, Chabinsky said of the bureau’s cybersecurity efforts: “They’re doing a great job.”  He added, “The next step is to determine how the private sector can play a more active role in defending themselves against hackers, with the assistance of law enforcement.  If cybersecurity remains a game of constant defense, it will not end well for the good guys.”

Here’s the Post story:

By Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post

The federal government has taken a “failed approach” to cybersecurity, with efforts that focus on reducing vulnerabilities rather than actively deterring attackers, according to one of the FBI’s top former cyber officials.

Steven Chabinsky, a 17-year bureau veteran who stepped down this month as the FBI’s top cyber lawyer, argued that the movement to set security standards for companies — which has been a goal for the Obama administration and the focus of congressional debate — is useful only “in the margins.”

More important is to enable companies whose computer networks are targeted by criminals and foreign intelligence services to detect who’s penetrating their systems and to take more aggressive action to defend themselves, Chabinsky said in his first interview since leaving office.

To read full story click here.

 

 

Attorney: Congressman Buchanan No Longer Investigated for Improper Donations

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

 The U.S. Justice Department does not plan to pursue charges against U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan following an 11-month investigation, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports.

Buchanan’s attorneys said Tuesday that the Justice Department notified him that it’s ending the investigation into the whether Buchanan pressured a former business partner to sign a false affidavit amidst an illegal campaign donation probe.

The business partner, Sam Karzan, claimed the congressman coerced him to help cover up alleged illegal donations in 2006 and 2008, Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported.

Buchanan’s campaign, which has denied wrongdoing, said Karazan was a disgruntled employee who wanted to smear Buchanan , according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

 

STORIES OF OTHER INTEREST

Some Congress Members Question Whether Homeland Security Overstepped Its Authority

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Some members of Congress are questioning the legality of Homeland Security seizing domains and taking down URLs accused of copyright infringement, CNET reports.

Among the concerns are that Homeland Security is “seizing the domain names of websites whose actions and content are presumed to be lawful, protected speech,” some Congress members said in a letter to the U.S. Attorney General.

Since 2010, nearly 700 domain names have been seized under “Operation In Our Sites,” launched in 2010, according to CNET.

More than a year ago, the government removed a hip-hop Web site, saying Dajaz1 linked to copyrighted songs.

But CNET reported that the link did not infringe on copyrights, CNET reported.