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Tag: Justice Department

Boston Globe Editorial Says FBI Guilty of “Red-Baiting at its Worst”

fbi logo largeBy The Boston Globe
Editorial

GREENPEACE, THE Catholic Worker, the Thomas Merton Center — none of these groups had the remotest connection to 9/11 or terrorism. And the FBI had no business investigating them — with no evidence other than a suspicion of left-wing organizations in wartime.

This was shameful red-baiting at its worst. The best thing to say about it is that a Justice Department report cleared the FBI of investigating targeted groups to deliberately stifle their “First Amendment activities.’’ But the net effect was the same.

The Justice Department’s Inspector General report released this week pulled few punches in admonishing the FBI for targeting anti-war groups and advocacy organizations with no apparent justification, and for placing non-violent activists in those groups on terrorist watch lists. The report chastised the bureau for having a “weak’’ rationale for some of its investigations; investigating where there was “little indication of any possible federal crimes’’; and extending “the duration of investigations involving advocacy groups or their members without adequate basis.’’

To read more click here.

Justice Dept. Wants Appeals Court to Reconsider Warrantless GPS Issue

gpsBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The issue of law enforcement using warrantless GPS is still simmering.

The latest: The Justice Department on Monday asked the full U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. to overturn a ruling by a three-judge panel, which said law enforcement must get a warrant when using a GPS to track a suspect, the BLT:The Blog of the Legal Times reports.

The three-judge panel ruled that authorities violated the privacy of Antoine Jones, the co-owner of a nightclub in Washington, by using the GPS to link him to a  suspected Maryland drug house, the blog reported. The court vacated his conviction and life sentence.

Federal prosecutors have cited a 1983 Supreme Court ruling that said a person traveling on a public road should have no expectation of privacy, the blog wrote.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Smith wrote in the petition for a rehearing that the ruling”raises enormous practical problems for law enforcement,” the blog reported.

“The decision leaves unresolved precisely when the monitoring of a GPS device becomes a ‘search’ under the Fourth Amendment, and implicitly calls into question common and important practices such as sustained visual surveillance and photographic surveillance of public places,” Smith wrote, according to the blog.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

IG Says FBI Misled Public and Congress About Surveilling Anti-War Rally in 2002

Robert Mueller III / file fbi photo

Robert Mueller III / file fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The FBI including the director gave inaccurate and misleading statements to Congress and the public about reasons why an agent conducted surveillance at an anti-war rally in 2002 at the Thomas Merton Center in Pittsburgh, according a report by the Justice Department’s Inspector General.

The report concluded that the FBI had no legitimate basis to believe that someone in a terrorism investigation would be present at the rally, contrary to what the FBI said in statements and the testimony Director Robert S. Mueller III delivered before Congress.

“We do not believe that the Director intentionally misled Congress,” the report concluded. “We found no evidence that he received information that should have given him reason to doubt the accuracy of the briefing material he relied on in preparing to testify.”

“Yet, it is clear that FBI personnel took insufficient care to ensure that Director Mueller was given accurate information. In this case, the Director was poorly served by those responsible for the contents of routing slip and press response.”

The FBI on Monday referred to a Sept. 14 letter written by FBI Deputy Director Timothy P. Murphy included in the report, which said: “The FBI regrets that incorrect information was provided regarding this matter.”

But it also applauded the findings of the overall report, which focused  on the FBI’s investigations on certain domestic advocacy groups.

“We are pleased the Report concludes the FBI did not target any groups for investigations on the basis of their First Amendment activities,” the letter said. ” As noted in your Report, (t)he FBI’s investigations of these individuals were generally predicated on concerns about potential criminal acts by these individuals, not their First Amendment rights.”

To read report click here.

Read Washington Post story

Fla. Man Gets Prison for Bilking Consumers of $35 Million in Collect Call Scam

TelephonesBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

We often think that once a criminal is behind bars, society is a little safer.

William Farr shows us that’s not necessarily true.

The 46-year-old West Palm Beach man, while in the West Palm Beach County Jail, ran a scam in which he fleeced consumers of $35 million by charging them for collect phone calls that were never made, according to the Justice Department.

Late last week, he was sentenced to more than 21 years in prison for pulling off the scam known as a “cramming scheme.”

Court documents show that from April 2003 to December 2005 Farr used three West Palm Beach companies – Nationwide Connections Inc., Access One Communications Inc., and Connect One Communications Inc. – to defraud consumers, the Justice Department said.

Farr arranged for telephone companies to falsely bill consumers, and because charges normally appeared on the last page of the telephone bill, many paid the charges, the Justice Department said.

During his plea, Farr that he had hid his ownership of the three firms because “other firms had cut off his ability to bill for calls due to consumer complaints and the fact that state regulators had sued him for illegitimate billing,” the Justice Department said.

“As this sentence demonstrates, the Justice Department has put a priority on protecting the public from fraudulent schemes. This case should also remind consumers to carefully review their telephone bills for unauthorized charges,” Tony West, assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division said in a statement.”

Justice Dept. Sues Az Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Sheriff Joe Arpaio

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Say it ain’t so Sheriff Joe.

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Thursday against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, claiming the Arizona lawman and his department have refused to fully cooperate with the feds’ investigation into allegations his department discriminates against Hispanics in police practices and jail operations.

The Justice Department said it took the latest step “after exhausting all cooperative measures to gain access” to documents and facilities.

The Justice Department said since March 2009 it has tried to secure “secure voluntary compliance with the department’s investigation.”

“The actions of the sheriff’s office are unprecedented. It is unfortunate that the department was forced to resort to litigation to gain access to public documents and facilities,” Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division said in a statement.

Washington Post Editorial: Why is Justice Dept. Dragging Feet on Prison Rape Issue?

jailBy The Washington Post
Editorial Page

WASHINGTON — “THIS IS SOMETHING that I think needs to be done, not tomorrow, but yesterday.”

Those were the words of Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in March to a House subcommittee on the subject of preventing sexual abuse in prison.

Five months have passed since then, and two have passed since the June 23 deadline for Mr. Holder to approve the guidelines set forth by the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission.

His “yesterday” is long past.

A report released Thursday by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that the situation remains grim.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

All Star Clemens Adds Ex-Fed Prosecutor to Defense Team

Michael Attanasio/law firm photo

Michael Attanasio/law firm photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Seven- time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens, who was indicted last week on charges of lying to Congress about steroid use, is adding a former federal prosecutor to his team, ESPN.com reports.

Michael Attanasio, a federal prosecutor in Washington from 1991 to 1999, who is now a partner in the firm Cooley LLP of San Diego, is hopping aboard the defense team. The firm has a D.C. office.

The all-star defense team once included prominent Washington attorney Lanny Breuer, who was with Clemens when he testified in 2008 before Congress, ESPN.com reported. Breuer now heads up the Justice Department’s criminal division.

Lanny Breuer

Lanny Breuer

“Everybody wants to say we should have a Washington lawyer, and they may be right,” one of Clemens’ defense attorneys, Rusty Hardin of Houston, who noted that  Attanasio is based in San Diego, told ESPN. “But Mike was with the DOJ [Department of Justice] for eight years out of Washington and he knows his way around there.”

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Lawyer Says Justice Dept. Dropping Probe of Ex-House Leader Tom DeLay

Ex-Rep. Tom DeLay

Ex-Rep. Tom DeLay

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — It doesn’t look like the Justice Department will be filing any criminal charges against former House leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex).

Mike Allen of Politico reports that the Justice Department is dropping its six-year probe into Delay and his ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Allen attributed his information to DeLay’s lead attorney Richard Cullen.

“The federal investigation of Tom DeLay is over and there will be no charges,” Cullen told Allen. “This is the so-called Abramoff investigation run by the Public Integrity section of DOJ. There have been a series of convictions and guilty pleas since 2005. A campaign-related charge against him continues in Texas.

“In 2005, we voluntarily produced to the prosecutors over 1,000 emails and documents from the DeLay office dating back to 1997. Several members of Congress objected to producing official government records under Speech or Debate Clause concerns. DeLay took the opposite position, ordering all his staff to answer all questions. He turned over more than 1,000 documents, and several of his aides gave interviews and grand jury testimony.”

DeLay still faces state charges in Texas of money laundering.