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Tag: Justice Department

Justice Department to Reveal Secret Memo Justifying Drone Strikes Against Americans

istock photo

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

When is the government authorized to use drones to kill U.S. Citizens overseas?

The Justice Department, which has resisted the release of the information, said Tuesday it won’t block the release of a secret drone memo, the USA Today reports.

That decision was made easier because the memo’s author, former Justice Department official David Barron, has been nominated to serve on a federal appeals court bench in Boston.

“The … opinions written or signed by Mr. Barron helped form the purported legal foundation for a large-scale killing program that has resulted in, as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) stated last year, as many as 4,700 deaths by drone attacks, including the deaths of four American citizens,” the ACLU said in a Tuesday letter to senators urging them to review the documents.

Justice Department Criminally Charges Five Chinese Military Officials with Hacking

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department has charged five Chinese military officials with cyber-espionage after allegedly hacking into American companies’ computers in an attempt to steal trade secrets.

BBC reports that the army officials are accused of stealing trade secrets and internal documents from five U.S. companies and a labor union.

China quickly denied the charges, saying the accusations threaten to sour relations between the two countries.

Attorney General Eric Holder said the charges were the first against “known state actors for infiltrating U.S. commercial targets by cyber means.”

The victims have been identified as Westinghouse Electric, US Steel, Alcoa Inc, Allegheny Technologies, SolarWorld and the US Steelworkers Union.

“The alleged hacking appears to have been conducted for no reason other than to advantage state-owned companies and other interests in China, at the expense of businesses here in the United States,” Holder said.

FBI Director James B. Comey Steadfast in Keeping Terrorism As Top Concern for Bureau

FBI photo

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

When James B. Comey became the FBI’s new director last year, many observers believed he’d usher in a new era at the bureau by shifting some of the focus away from terrorism.

But the New York Times reports that Comey, a former Justice Department prosecutor who focused on gun cases, appears to have underestimated the threat still posed by terrorism.

“I didn’t have anywhere near the appreciation I got after I came into this job just how virulent those affiliates had become,” Mr. Comey said, referring to offshoots of Al Qaeda in Africa and in the Middle East during an interview with the Times at the J. Edgar Hoover Building. “There are both many more than I appreciated, and they are stronger than I appreciated.”

Comey said he therefore will keep terrorism as the main focus of the FBI.

President Obama appeared to indicate last year that the U.S. would move past terrorism soon and that “we have to recognize that the scale of the threat resembles the types of attacks we faced before 9/11.”

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

 

FBI Agent Admits He May Have Violated Justice Department Rules in Case of Cuban Immigrants

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An FBI agent acknowledged on the witness stand Tuesday that he may have unknowingly violated Justice Department guidelines in the case of there Cuban immigrants accused of the theft of drugs and expensive merchandise in the Las Vegas Valley.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that FBI Agent Shay Christensen admitted during cross-examination that he did not document communications with an informant as required by the Justice Department.

The agent told defense lawyer Thomas Pitaro that he did not know about the guidelines.

“You know that that’s a mandatory disclosure, don’t you?” Pitaro asked in a raised voice.

“I know now,” Christensen replied.

Column: The U.S. Government’s Hypocrisy When It Comes to Freedom of the Press

Reporter James Risen

By Trevor Timm
Freedom of the Press Foundation

The US State Department announced the launch of its third annual “Free the Press” campaign today, which will purportedly highlight “journalists or media outlets that are censored, attacked, threatened, or otherwise oppressed because of their reporting.” A noble mission for sure. But maybe they should kick off the campaign by criticizing their own Justice Department, which on the very same day, has asked the Supreme Court to help them force Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times reporter James Risen into jail.

Politico’s Josh Gerstein reports that the Justice Department filed a legal brief today urging the Supreme Court to reject Risen’s petition to hear his reporter’s privilege case, in which the Fourth Circuit ruled earlier this year that James Risen (and all journalists) can be forced to testify against their sources without any regard to the confidentiality required by their profession. This flies in the face of common law precedent all over the country, as well as the clear district court reasoning in Risen’s case in 2012. (The government’s Supreme Court brief can be read here.)

Associated Press reporter Matthew Lee commendably grilled the State Department spokesman about the contradiction of its press freedom campaign and the James Risen case at today’s briefing on the State Department initiative, repeatedly asking if the government considers press freedom issues in the United States the same way it does abroad. The full transcript is below.

As Gerstein noted, “The Justice Department brief is unflinchingly hostile to the idea of the Supreme Court creating or finding protections for journalists,” and if the Justice Department succeeds “it could place President Barack Obama in the awkward position of presiding over the jailing of a journalist in an administration the president has vowed to make the most transparent in history.”

To read full column click here. 

House Committee to Call for Criminal Investigation of Former IRS Official

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Republican lawmakers are want the Justice Department to seek charges against embattled ex-IRS official Lois Lerner.

Fox News reports that the House Ways and Means Committee are to meet Wednesday to write a letter notifying the Justice Department that Lerner may have broken the law.

The letter will argue that Lerner violated the constitutional rights of citizens, misled investigators and released private taxpayer information.

The accusations stem from the scandal involving the agency’s singling out of conservative groups to investigate.

Federal Government Allows ATF Official to Collect Two Salaries While on Leave

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A key figure in the Fast & Furious gun-running operation was permitted to collect two salaries while on leave from his federal government job, the Washington Times reports.

The Justice Department’s inspector general created the report after finding that three of William McMahon’s superiors with the ATF “exercised poor judgment” by allowing McMahon to collect his salary while also working for JP Morgan when he was on leave.

The two jobs also created a conflict of interest, the inspector general found.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

 


AG Holder, FBI Director Among Officials Who Spent $7.8 Million on Personal Trips and Federal Jets

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr.

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Eric Holder and former FBI Director Robert Mueller are among senior Justice Department officials who billed taxpayers a combined $7.8 million to use federal aircraft for hundreds of personal trips, the Washington Post reports.

The report by Congress’ nonpartisan Government Accountability Office, which was released Thursday, comes less than three months after Holder came under fire for his use of the FBI jet.

Attorneys general have access to Defense Department aircraft for business and personal travel, the Post wrote.