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Tag: Congress

9/11 Defendants to Be Tried in Military Court; Atty. Gen. Says He Still Believes Civilian Court Was Best Venue

Eric Holder Jr./ticklethewire.com file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Because Congress has blocked Gitmo detainees from being prosecuted in civilian court, Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. said Monday that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others will stand trial in a military court in Gitmo.

The announcement marked a sharp reversal of his announcement in November 2009 that the men would be prosecuted in federal court in New York.

“Unfortunately, since I made that decision, Members of Congress have intervened and imposed restrictions blocking the administration from bringing any Guantanamo detainees to trial in the United States, regardless of the venue,” he said in a statement. “As the President has said, those unwise and unwarranted restrictions undermine our counterterrorism efforts and could harm our national security.”

“After thoroughly studying the case, it became clear to me that the best venue for prosecution was in federal court. I stand by that decision today.

“As the indictment unsealed today reveals, we were prepared to bring a powerful case against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four co-conspirators – one of the most well-researched and documented cases I have ever seen in my decades of experience as a prosecutor.

“We had carefully evaluated the evidence and concluded that we could prove the defendants’ guilt while adhering to the bedrock traditions and values of our laws. We had consulted extensively with the intelligence community and developed detailed plans for handling classified evidence.

“Had this case proceeded in Manhattan or in an alternative venue in the United States, as I seriously explored in the past year, I am confident that our justice system would have performed with the same distinction that has been its hallmark for over two hundred years.

“Decisions about who, where and how to prosecute have always been – and must remain – the responsibility of the executive branch. Members of Congress simply do not have access to the evidence and other information necessary to make prosecution judgments. Yet they have taken one of the nation’s most tested counterterrorism tools off the table and tied our hands in a way that could have serious ramifications. We will continue to seek to repeal those restrictions.”

(Read more of his statement)

Read more »

Ex-Justice Dept. Analyst Judith Socolov Who was Convicted of Espionage Dies at Age 88

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Judith Socolov, a former Justice Department political analyst in the 1940s, who fell in love with a Soviet agent and was convicted of espionage, died over the weekend in Manhattan, the New York Times reported. She was 88.

Judith Coplon, who later became Judith Socolov, was arrested by the FBI in 1949 while working at the Justice Department, the Times reported.

The Times reported that her convictions, one in 1949 for espionage and another for conspiracy in 1950, were both overturned. The Times reported one conviction was overturned “because federal agents overheard conversations with her lawyer, and in the other because she was arrested on probable cause but without a warrant.”

Still, the U.S. Court of Appeals concluded that ”her guilt is plain,” the Times reported. The paper wrote that Soviet documents released years later supported that conclusion.

”She was a very high priority to the F.B.I.,” John Earl Haynes, a cold war historian at the Library of Congress, told the Times on Monday, ”because she was clearly in a Justice Department office, the Foreign Agents Registration Section, that was receiving the F.B.I.’s own counterespionage reports.”

She went on to marry one of her attorneys Albert Socolov and raised four children, earned a master’s degree, published books and did other things, and ran two Mexican restaurants in New York with her husband.

To read more click here.

Column: Congress Playing Games With USA Patriot Act

By Ronald Kessler
Newsmax.com

Once again, members of Congress are putting our lives at risk by playing games with the USA Patriot Act.

Because of opposition of Democrats and some Republicans, crucial components of the act are set to expire on May 27 after Congress agreed to a temporary extension.

The provisions deal with roving wiretaps, “lone wolf” terrorism suspects, and the government’s ability to seize “any tangible thing” such as records.

Roving wiretaps simply allow a judge to authorize electronic surveillance of a terrorist suspect regardless of what phone he uses.

Prior to passage of the law, the FBI had to return to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for new authorization each time a terrorist changed phones. While the FBI applied for new authorization, a terrorist could have changed phones again and blown up an airplane in mid-flight.

To read full column click here.

WEEKEND STORIES OF INTEREST

Ex-Philly Interim U.S. Atty. Laurie Magid in Hot Water

Ex-U.S. Atty. Laurie Magid

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ex-interim Philly U.S. Attorney Laurie Magid is facing some serious allegations.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has alleged that as a government employee Magid improperly held fundraisers for Sen. Arlen Specter in 2008 and one for U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan in 2009, and solicited funds from subordinates at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the fundraisers, according to the counsel’s Feb. 15 document posted on  Politico.

The special counsel has recommended disciplinary action for violating the Hatch Act law. which  limits political activity by federal employees.

Magid was the first assistant U.S. Attorney from summer 2005 until  July 2008 when she became acting U.S. Attorney. From February 2009 to May 2009 she was the interim U.S. Attorney and then was replaced.

The Office of Special Counsel document stated that in  2008, Magid’s husband was hosting a fundraiser at their home for Sen. Arlen Specter.

The document alleged that she helped her husband and invited eight assistant U.S. attorneys (AUSAs) for the Sen. Specter fundraiser.

“At least one one AUSA expressed concern that he felt pressure to attend this political fundraiser,” the document said.

In early 2009, the husband threw a fundraiser for gubernatorial candidate Patrick Meehan, the former U.S. Attorney, who eventually decided to run for Congress. Magid helped her husband with the invite list, which included 35 of her subordinate employees. Of those, about 18 got the invitations at their official U.S. Attorney address, the document said.

“When invitations were received, performance evaluations were in progress,” the document said. “Several of respondent’s subordinate employees  expressed concerns that they  felt pressure to attend this political fundraiser or make a financial contribution.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Magid did not respond to an e-mail for comment, and a person at her home said she was not available to respond.

Read Document

The Ugly Side of Politics; Ex-Congressional Candidate Gets 1 Year in Prison

Tan Nguyen

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Tan Nguyen represents the ugliest of ugly in politics.

The 35-year-old Vietnamese immigrant and former Republican California congressional candidate was sentenced Monday to one year and one day in prison for lying to investigators about a letter sent to Latino voters during his 2006 campaign against a Latino, Democratic incumbent. The letter said immigrants couldn’t vote.

In addition to the prison term, the U.S. District Judge David O. Carter in Santa Anna, Calif., ordered Nguyen to serve six months at a halfway house.

Last December, a federal jury convicted Nguyen of obstruction of justice for lying to the California Department of Justice and saying that campaign volunteers created the letter without his knowledge, the Justice Department said.

Authorities say the letter, written in Spanish, was sent to about 14,000 voters with Latino surnames. He lost his bid against incumbent Rep. Loretta Sanchez.

“The Civil Rights Division is committed to protecting the voting rights of all individuals,” Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Thomas E. Perez said in a statement.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Congressman Opposes Plan to Name Museum Research Center After J. Edgar Hoover

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II/gov photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The FBI’s legendary director J. Edgar Hoover continues to stir up controversy.

The latest: the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II (D-Mo.) is voicing opposition to a plan to name the research center at the yet to be built National Law Enforcement Museum in Washington after Hoover, USA Today reported.

“It is not healthy for the nation if his legacy does not include an asterisk for his (archaic) views on race,” Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo. said, according to USA Today. “I’m wondering what Dr. King would say to us.”

Cleaver expressed particular concern about the FBI’s campaign to discredit Martin Luther King Jr.

USA Today reported that Cleaver is even bothered by the fact the FBI headquarters building on Pennsylvania Avenue is named after Hoover. He calls it  a “sore point for a lot of people.”

USA Today reported that the National Law Enforcement Museum, authorized by Congress, is set to open in 2013.

J. Edgar Hoover/fbi photo

The paper reported that foundation Director William Branon, a former FBI agent, defended the naming of the center, saying it was “in keeping with the goals of the foundation: to perpetuate the good name of Mr. Hoover. … No editorializing.”

“I can’t think of a more fitting place to carry his name,” Branon said.

Hoover’s name has resurfaced in the media lately in relation to a movie being made by Clint Eastwood on Hoover’s life. The movie is reportedly going to show Hoover having a long-standing romantic relationship with his right hand man, Clyde Tolson. Some former and current FBI agents have expressed dismay over that aspect of the movie.

To read more click here.

FBI Releases 3,600 Pages on the Late Sen. Ted Stevens

Ex-Sen. Ted Stevens before his defeat

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The FBI on Friday released about 3,600 pages on the late Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, about 2,700 of which were from media reports.

The files included complaints received by the FBI Anchorage office alleging “instances of Stevens being involved in corruption or other illegal activities” and Stevens accepting free services.

The files also detail threats made against Stevens over the years including in 1985 when he was among a number of members of Congress members who received threatening letters, the FBI said.

Stevens was convicted on public corruption charges in 2008,just before he was up for re-election. He lost the election. But a federal judge, at the request of the Justice Department, ended up vacating the conviction because of prosecutorial misconduct.

Stevens died in a plane crash last August. He served in the Senate from 1968 until Jan. 3, 2009.

Some of the information contained in the files, according to the FBI, included:

* Letters back and forth between Stevens and FBI Directors and other executives, the U.S. attorney general, and the Anchorage special agents in charge discussing legislation, constituent concerns, crime reporting, and news articles of interest;

* Letters of complaint from the public and political organizations regarding alleged corruption, which tie in other Alaskan political figures;

* References from the 1950s when Stevens was the U.S. Attorney (involving his appointment to the position and participation in U.S. Attorney conferences); and

* Correspondence between Hoover and other FBI executives regarding Stevens’ relationship with the FBI and the Anchorage Field Office as a U.S. Attorney.

Read Files

Could Deep Budget Cuts Spell Doom for Agencies Like FBI and DEA?

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Could big Congressional budget cuts spell doom for agencies like the FBI and DEA?

Conservative Republicans on Thursday demanded dramatic cuts, the Washington Post reported. Specifically, members of the conservative Republican Study Committee said the GOP needs to keep a campaign pledge and immediately cut at least $100 billion from non-defense programs.

The Post reported that Democrats estimate that such deep cuts, if applied across the board,  could result in the firing of 4,000 FBI agents, 1,500 DEA agents and 5,700 federal correctional officers.

To read more click here.