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Tag: Justice Department

Mary Beth Buchanan Chalked Up $450,000 in Travel As U.S. Attorney; Feds Change Travel Rules

 Mary Beth Buchanan

Mary Beth Buchanan

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Mary Beth Buchanan was quite the jet setter during her eight-year reign as U.S. Attorney in Pittsburgh.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that she spent more than half of her time as the U.S. attorney on the road, taking at least 347 trips. The total cost: $450,000. She stepped down in November.

In March, the paper reported, the Justice Department changed the rules, requiring that out-of-district travel get the ok from the director or deputy director of the executive office.

“The previous policies and procedures were admittedly inconsistent,” Justice spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz told the paper. “Changes to the process were made to ensure full compliance with departmental travel policies and procedure and to strengthen controls and oversight of U.S. attorney travel.”

To read more click here.

Justice Dept. Showing Face in Assessment of New Orleans Police Dept.

new-orleans-map-istockBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department is starting to show its face in the New Orleans police department as part of a wide-scale assessment of the troubled police force.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that on Friday  “a handful of representatives from the Department of Justice’s Special Litigation Section sat silently, taking in the scene and jotting down occasional notes” a the department’s weekly command meeting on crime.

The paper reported that the Justice Department is on the ground in New Orleans beginning the assessment of a department that has recently seen several current and former cops indicted in connection with the shooting of civilians and the cover up of those cases.

Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas Perez recently announced the inquiry, which will assess systemic problems that need correcting.

To read more click here.

Washington Post Editorial: “Appalling” That Fed Agencies Unprepared for WMD Attack

terrorismBy The Washington Post
Editorial Page

WASHINGTON — “EVERYBODY WOULD be winging it.” That is how one law enforcement official described the likely Justice Department response to an attack involving weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).

The remark was included in a critical report by the department’s inspector general, which concluded that the department “is not prepared to fulfill its role . . . to ensure public safety and security in the event of a WMD incident,” including those involving biological, chemical or nuclear weapons.

The only Justice component to receive high marks was the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which the report noted had specific policies in place to deal with a WMD attack and routinely carried out WMD-specific training for agents and other personnel.

Not so the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Drug Enforcement Agency or the U.S. Marshals Service.

The ATF, for example, had been tapped to coordinate federal law enforcement’s response and its efforts to dovetail with local and state efforts in such matters as sealing off buildings and areas subject to WMD exposure. But the agency has no policies or training focused specifically on reacting to a WMD attack, and many officials within the Justice Department were not aware of the agency’s critical role nor had they worked with any other component, including the FBI, to coordinate efforts in the event of an attack.

To Read More click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Border Patrol Agent Pleads to Beating Mexican National at Arizona Border

Border PatrolBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A U.S. Border Patrol agent in Arizona pleaded guilty Friday in federal court in Tucson to assaulting a Mexican National in his custody, the Justice Department said.

Agent Eduardo Moreno admitted that on May 10, 2006, while on duty at the U.S. Border Patrol Processing Center in Nogales, Ariz., he kicked the man, struck him in the stomach with a baton, threw him down to ground and punched him without justification, authorities said.

“We place a great deal of trust in federal law enforcement officers, and the Civil Rights Division will aggressively prosecute any officer who violates the rights of others and abuses the power they are given to perform their critical duties,”  Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, said in a statement.

Sentencing was set for Aug. 12. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

Under the plea agreement, authorities agreed to drop the charge that he made a false statement to federal agents.

New Orleans Times-Picayune Editorial: Justice Dept. Probe Into BP Spill “Necessary Step”

BPBy New Orleans Times-Picayune
Editorial

NEW ORLEANS — The Justice Department’s investigation into possible criminal and civil violations related to BP’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is an important and necessary step.

The more Americans learn about the decisions and missteps that may have contributed to the disaster, the more it seems that a wide range of infractions took place.

Visiting New Orleans Tuesday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the criminal probe into the matter has been under way for several weeks. He said FBI agents and personnel from civil branches of the Justice Department have been in Louisiana since shortly after the well’s explosion, collecting documents and other evidence.

Mr. Holder promised a “meticulous, comprehensive and aggressive” inquiry. “We won’t rest until we’re done,” he said.

Residents of the Gulf Coast are owed that much.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. Announces Criminal and Civil Probes in Gulf Spill

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

As expected, the Justice Department is going after those involved in the ugliest oil spill in U.S. history.

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. announced Tuesday in New Orleans that the Justice Department was launching a criminal and civil probe into the Gulf spill that continues to kill wildlife and livelihoods and is likely to cost the Obama administration some serious political capital.

“As we move forward, we will be guided by simple principles: We will ensure that every cent of taxpayer money will be repaid and damages to the environment and wildlife will be reimbursed,” Holder said a in prepared statement posted on the Justice Dept. website.

“We will make certain that those responsible clean up the mess they have made and restore or replace the natural resources lost or injured in this tragedy. And we will prosecute to the full extent any violations of the law.”

In the Rose Garden at the White House, President Obama remarked:

“We owe all those who’ve been harmed, as well as future generations, a full and vigorous accounting of the events that led to what has now become the worst oil spill in U.S. history.”

Read New York Times story

Read Eric Holder’s Statement

Read President Obama’s Statement

Justice Dept. Exploring Possibility of Criminal Charges Against BP

BPBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department appears to be sharpening it chops as it considers taking a pound of flesh out of oil giant BP, which has failed to put a cap on the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that a team of federal prosecutors and investigators have taken the initial steps into looking into the possibility of criminal charges to see whether the company “skirted federal safety regulations and misled the U.S. government by saying it could quickly clean up an environmental accident.”

The paper reports that federal and state authorities have told BP not to destroy documents and internal documents.

To read more click here.

Justice Dept. Fights to Keep Rejected Pardons and Commutations Secret

shhhhBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration, which vowed to have more transparency in government, is working very hard to keep some secrets.

At issue: The names of more than 9,200 people President George W. Bush denied pardons and commutations, the National Law Journal reports.

Last year, a D.C. federal judge ruled against the Obama Justice Department and said the names should be made public. The Justice Department has appealed that ruling, insisting the privacy interest of the applicants outweigh the public’s right to know.

“The case is a politically sensitive one for the Justice Department, given Attorney General Eric Holder Jr.’s involvement in the decision to pardon fugitive Marc Rich at the end of the Clinton administration,” the Journal wrote. “The Rich pardon turned into a Washington scandal that compelled Holder to apologize for mistakes when it came up during his confirmation hearing last year.

The Journal wrote that the case applies only to the Bush years, but could open up the door for the public to see applicants from other administrations.

Under the current policy, the Justice Department can confirm a specific pardon, but won’t comment on a list of denials, the Journal reported.

Since October 2009, Obama has received 382 pardon petitions and 2,275 applications for commutation, but none have been acted upon at this time, the Journal reported.

The Journal said the case was initiated by retired Washington Post reporter George Lardner, who is writing a book on the history of clemency.

To read more click here.