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Tag: Justice Department

FBI Dir. Mueller Honored Along With Some Who Played Role in Russian Spy Network

FBI Dir. Robert Mueller/fbi file photo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director Robert Mueller was awarded one of the Justice Departments highest honors on Wednesday for his “outstanding professionalism and exemplary integrity,” reports CNN.

The award was one of more than 300 commendations, forty-nine of them among intelligence officials, including counterespionage agents, for their roles in catching 10 Russian secret agents in the summer of 2010.

The Russian “deep cover” operatives had carefully constructed false identities. FBI agents had decrypted the agents’ messages back to Moscow and conducted extensive surveillance, using an “exceptionally creative and tenacious multiyear investigation.”

New Deputy Director Sean Joyce accepted the award for Mueller, who was traveling for “personal business,” according to CNN. The award is named after US Attorney General Edward Levi

Another 65 law enforcement officials were commended for their work in the investigation and prosecution of Faisal Shahzad and n attempted  May 2010 bombing in Times Square.

To read more click here.

 

Chinese National Pleads to Theft of Trade Secrets and Economic Espionage

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com
 
In Indiana, in the heart of the Midwest, a Chinese national working for two major U.S. companies pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing trade secrets about food products and pesticides and giving them to people in China and Germany, the Justice Department announced.

 It marked the first time ever that the feds in Indiana had prosecuted a trade secret case.
 
Authorities pegged the losses from the criminal deeds of Kexue Huang, who lived in Carmel, Ind., at more than $7 million, but less than $20 million. He pleaded guilty to theft of trade secrets and economic espionage.
 
Huang worked as a research scientist for Dow Chemical, based in Midland, Mi.  from January 2003 until February 2008, a company that  provides agrochemical and biotechnology products. After Huang left Dow, he was hired in March 2008 by Cargill, an international producer and marketer of food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services.

Huang admitted that he sent  trade secrets to  Germany and the Peoples Republic of China, the Justice Department said.  He and his collaborators then used the information to conduct unauthorized research in an effort to benefit foreign universities serving the Peoples Republic of China.

Authorities said he also  sought to use the trade secrets to establish sites in China from which he could compete directly with Dow in the organic pesticide market.

Court documents show that after his employment with Dow, Huang worked for Cargill beginning in 2008, again disclosing trade secrets, this time to a student at Hunan Normal University in China.

From that company, the Justice Department said, he stole a company trade secret — a key component in the manufacture of a new food product, which he later gave to a student at Hunan Normal University in China.

“Among the various economic espionage and theft of trade secret cases that the FBI has investigated in Indiana, the vast majority involve an inside employee with legitimate access who is stealing in order to benefit another organization or country,” Robert J. Holley, head of the Indianapolis FBI said in a statement.

“This type of threat, which the FBI refers to as the Insider Threat, often causes the most damage. In order to maintain our competitive advantage in these sectors, industry must identify their most important equities, realize that they are a target, implement internal protection mechanisms to protect their intellectual property, and communicate issues of concern immediately to the FBI.”

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Dozens of Justice Dept. Antitrust Lawyers May Quit Rather Than Move

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Speaking anonymously to the Washington Post,  several attorneys said dozens of career antitrust lawyers at the Justice Department say they are likely to quit if the department goes ahead with plans to close four regional offices.

Plans were announced earlier this month to close offices in the antitrust division in Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas and Philadelphia, the Post reported.  Consequently, there are plans to move 94 attorneys and support staff to offices in Chicago, New York, San Francisco and headquarters in Washington. The plan is part of an effort to “consolidate operations and focus on larger criminal investigations,” according to the Post.

The Department has offered to pay for and support staffer’s moving process, but that may not be enough for some. “There aren’t a lot of people who’ve been with the division a long time who can pick up and move,” said one attorney from the Philadelphia office, according to the Post. “Many people have families and spouses with jobs where they’re already located. And there’s no assurances that in two years there won’t be further cuts, and then we’ll lose a job we picked up and moved for.”

To read more click here.

 

Atty. Gen. Holder Needs to Step Up and Take Responsibility for ATF’s Fast and Furious

 

Atty. Gen. Holder before House Judiciary /ticklethewire.com file photo

 
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. is an honorable man.

So I believe him when he tells Congress he didn’t know about ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious until the controversy exploded in 2011.

The problem is that he needs to take responsibility for it. Period. He’s the top dog. People in his organization had some inkling last year that they might be sitting on a political stink bomb. They should have given him a heads up. They need to take responsibility as well.

It’s like the household where the kids hide matches in the house and play with them all the time, and one day burn down their neighbor’s garage. Yes, the parents can tell the neighbor “sorry”, but they also have to take some responsibility even if they had no clue the kids were always playing with matches.

CBS News recently reported that “two Justice Department officials mulled it over in an email exchange Oct. 18, 2010.”

“It’s a tricky case given the number of guns that have walked but is a significant set of prosecutions,” said Jason Weinstein, Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division. Deputy Chief of the National Gang Unit James Trusty replied “I’m not sure how much grief we get for ‘guns walking.’ It may be more like, ‘Finally they’re going after people who sent guns down there.’”

That sounds to me like someone in the Justice Department figured out the department was playing with matches by carrying out a program that encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to middlemen, all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels. Yes, they contemplated that someone could get burned.

We need to clean up this mess sooner than later. One helpful step along the way would be for Holder to say something to the effect: “Sure I didn’t know about Fast and Furious until the controversy erupted, but I take full responsibility and I want to find out why I wasn’t apprised of something so significant that endangered lives and had international implications.”

p.s. Atty. Gen. Holder, feel free to use that quote.

 

The War of the Letters: Rep. Issa Fires Back at Atty. Gen. Holder; Accuses Holder of Shifting Blame

Rep. Issa/gov photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The war of letters between Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif) and Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. continues.

The latest: Issa released on Monday a letter he sent to Holder sharply chastising him. Issa’s letter was in response to one Holder wrote Friday to Issa saying his his Congressional testimony on Operation Fast and Furious was truthful. ATF operation encouraged gun dealers in Arizona to sell to straw purchasers, with hopes of tracing the guns to the Mexican Carels. But ATF lost track of many guns, some which surfaced at crimes scenes on both sides of the border.

“Your letter dated October 7 is deeply disappointing,” Issa wrote. “Instead of pledging all necessary resources to assist the congressional investigation in discovering the truth behind the fundamentally flawed Operation Fast and Furious, your letter instead did little but obfuscate, shift blame, berate, and attempt to change the topic away from the Department’s responsibility in the creation, implementation, and authorization of this reckless program.

“You claim that, after months of silence, you ‘must now address these issues’ over Fast and Furious because of the harmful discourse of the past few days. Yet, the only major development of these past few days has been the release of multiple documents showing that you and your senior staff had been briefed, on numerous occasions, about Fast and Furious.”

Holder testified before Congress earlier this year that he hadn’t heard of the operation until the controversy over it surfaced.

Holder said even though Justice Department briefing papers in 2010 mentioned Fast and Furious, he did not read them and relied on his staff to brief him on important matters because of the volume of cases the department handles.

Issa continued in his letter:

“You failed to own up to your responsibility to safeguard the American public by hiding behind “[a]ttorneys in [your] office and the Office of the Deputy Attorney General,” who you now claim did not bring this information to your attention.  As a result of your failure to act on these memos sent to you, nearly 500 additional firearms were purchased under Fast and Furious.

“The facts simply do not support any claim that Fast and Furious did not reach the highest levels of the Justice Department. Actually, Fast and Furious did reach the ultimate authority in the Department – you.”

The  Full Letter:

Dear Attorney General Holder:

From the beginning of the congressional investigation into Operation Fast and Furious, the Department of Justice has offered a roving set of ever-changing explanations to justify its involvement in this reckless and deadly program. These defenses have been aimed at undermining the investigation. From the start, the Department insisted that no wrongdoing had occurred and asked Senator Grassley and me to defer our oversight responsibilities over its concerns about our purported interference with its ongoing criminal investigations. Additionally, the Department steadfastly insisted that gunwalking did not occur.

Read more »

An Interesting Omission in Press Release About Head of Fla. ICE Being Busted for Child Porn

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The press release issued Wednesday out of the Justice Department seemed a little peculiar if only because of a glaring omission.

“Florida Man Indicted for Transportation, Receipt, and Possession of Child Pornography” the headline of the press release read.

It went on to mention the name of the person, Anthony Mangione, 50, of Parkland, Fla., but made no mention anywhere in the 7-paragraph press release that he happened to be the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Florida,  a very prominent position in law enforcement.

Contrast that press release headline to the one that appeared in the Miami Herald website on Wednesday:

“Top immigration official pleads not guilty to child-porn charges in federal court.”

The Justice Department may not have seen the point in including the job title. But it might be germane considering that ICE has been involved in some of the biggest child porn busts in the nation. In fact, in August ICE was involved in a major child porn takedown involving charges against 72 people worldwide.

Laura Sweeney, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, responded by saying: “We include information in the release that is reflected in the public record. The indictment doesn’t mention his position or employer, therefore neither does the release.”

What the release did say was that Mangione was arrested Tuesday after an indictment was unsealed on charges that alleged that between March 2010 and September 2010, Mangione “transported and received visual depictions of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct. The indictment also alleges that Mangione possessed electronically stored messages that contained additional images of child pornography during the same time period.”

The Miami Herald reported that he showed no emotion during his initial court appearance in West Palm Beach.

He had headed the Florida regional ICE office since 2007.  The Herald, citing sources, said he had not received any child porn in connection with an ICE investigation.

 

Justice Dept. Fights Release of bin Laden Photos After Killing

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Sometimes curiosity just isn’t enough reason to do something.

At least that’s what the government seems to believe as it fights efforts by the group Judicial Watch, which has asked under the Freedom of Information Act for photos and videos of al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden after he was killed in May.

Politico reports that the Justice Department filed papers in federal court in Washington Monday night saying the release of the videos and photos would reveal military and intelligence secrets and could lead to violence against U.S. personnel. The CIA and the Pentagon are against releasing the materials.

The CIA has described the photos as “gruesome.”

President Obama said, according to Politico:

“It is important for us to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence. As a propaganda tool. You know, that’s not who we are. You know, we don’t trot out this stuff as trophies. We don’t need to spike the football.”

Hilton Denies it Charged Justice Dept. $16 Just for Muffin

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
Apparently the controversy over the Justice Department paying $16 a muffin at a conference isn’t quite over yet.

Now comes the Capital Hilton hotel, which charged $4,200 for $250 muffins at a Justice Department conference in 2009.

The hotel is denying the charge was just for muffins, contrary to an Inspector General report, which chided the department for excessive spending on beverages and food at conferences, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Times reports that the hotel says the $16-per-person muffin included fresh fruit, coffee and juice, plus tax and gratuity.

“Hilton has a long-standing practice of working with government agencies to plan meetings and events that fall within their budgets,” the spokesman said, suggesting the IG report didn’t reflect that, the LA Times reported. “Dining receipts are often abbreviated and do not reflect the full pre-contracted menu and service provided…”

The LA Times reported that the Justice Department said: “We stand by our report.”

The IG report, which triggered an avalanche of criticism, also cited other excessive spending: $10 for cookies, $5 cans of soda, $8 cups of coffee, and over $32 per person for Cracker Jacks and other snacks.