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Tag: Justice Department

Washington Examiner Editorial: Don’t Make ATF’s Chief Ken Melson a Scapegoat in Operation Fast and Furious

Ken Melson/atf photo

By The Washington Examiner
Editorial Page

WASHINGTON — Credible media reports have it that Kenneth Melson, acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, will get his walking papers this week as a result of his approval of Operation Fast and Furious, aka “Gunwalker.”

That’s the program in which ATF purposely allowed as many as 2,000 lethal weapons, including assault rifles such as the infamous AK-47, to be sold to representatives of Mexican drug cartels. The idea was that ATF would be able to link the weapons to specific individuals and prosecute them after the firearms were recovered at crime scenes in Mexico and the U.S. Melson and other senior ATF officials enthusiastically backed Gunwalker, which originated in the agency’s Phoenix office.

The ludicrous logic behind Gunwalker was exposed in December when a U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed in a confrontation with drug cartel thugs about 18 miles inside the U.S. border with Mexico in the Arizona desert. Two Gunwalker assault rifles were recovered from the scene in which Agent Brian Terry, an ex-Marine with a wife and children, died in the shootout. At least 150 Mexican law enforcement officers and an unknown number of cartel figures and civilians have also been killed with Gunwalker weapons. What ATF officials thought would become a key tool in bringing down the Mexican cartels instead, and predictably, became a U.S. government-sanctioned gun-running operation that bought enough high-powered weapons to equip hundreds of remorseless killers operating on both sides of the border.

That Melson should be removed is obvious, as should other senior ATF officials in Washington and in the field. But Gunwalker could not have gone as far as it did without the approval of senior Justice Department officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder, which is why The Washington Examiner last week called for Holder’s resignation.

To read more click here.

New York Times Editorial: When it Comes to Basic American Rights, FBI Going Backwards

By The New York Times
Editorial Page

The Obama administration has long been bumbling along in the footsteps of its predecessor when it comes to sacrificing Americans’ basic rights and liberties under the false flag of fighting terrorism. Now the Obama team seems ready to lurch even farther down that dismal road than George W. Bush did.

Instead of tightening the relaxed rules for F.B.I. investigations — not just of terrorism suspects but of pretty much anyone — that were put in place in the Bush years, President Obama’s Justice Department is getting ready to push the proper bounds of privacy even further.

Attorney General John Ashcroft began weakening rights protections after 9/11. Three years ago, his successor, Michael Mukasey, issued rules changes that permit agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to use highly intrusive methods — including lengthy physical surveillance and covert infiltration of lawful groups — even when there is no firm basis for suspecting any wrongdoing.

To read full editorial click here.

Justice Dept.’s Elite Team That’s Going After Edwards Walks a Fine Prosecutorial Line

By Jerry Markon
The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department’s decision to charge former presidential candidate John Edwards with campaign finance violations drew criticism from legal experts, including some former prosecutors, that the case was too aggressive.

In the months before the indictment, the Justice Department took flak from government watchdogs for dropping corruption investigations of members of Congress. They argued that the government was not aggressive enough, and gun-shy from the collapse of its case against the late senator Ted Stevens .

Prosecutors at the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, whose mission is to probe corruption in government, “are in a very difficult position,’’ said Peter Zeidenberg, a former Public Integrity prosecutor.

To read full story click here.

Edwards Case a Test for Justice Dept.’s Public Integrity Section

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — After screwing up the case against Sen. Ted Stevens, the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section will get another chance — this time with ex-Sen. John Edwards– to prove it can take down a high profile public figure without any major goofs.

You might recall the Public Integrity Section convicted Ted Stevens on very-straight forward public corruption charges in 2008, only to have the whole thing tossed out for prosecutorial misconduct after prosecutors failed to turn over key evidence to the defense.

“This case is just as important for the government as it is for Edwards,” Peter Henning, a law professor at Wayne State University in Detroit and co-author of “The Prosecution and Defense of Public Corruption” told the Christian Science Monitor.

The Public Integrity Section “certainly understands they’re under the microscope,” he said.

Since the Stevens case, the unit has gotten a new new chief, former New York-based federal prosecutor Jack Smith, the Christian Science Monitor reported. And the Justice Department has ordered training for prosecutors to assure that they disclose key evidence to defense attorneys.

“Will a federal prosecutor ever make another mistake in the course of complying with his or her disclosure obligations?” US Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer asked at a recent symposium, according to the paper. “Of course. We are human – and in an age when the discovery in a single case may consist of terabytes of information, the challenges are significant.”

The paper reports that the Justice Department will have its challenges when prosecuting Edwards. The two-time presidential candidate  has claimed he had no idea his aides spent hundreds of thousands of campaign dollars to hide his lover, campaign videographer Rielle Hunter during the 2008 bid for president.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert J. Higdon Jr. and Brian S. Meyers of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina along with Deputy Chief Justin V. Shur and Trial Attorneys David V. Harbach II and Jeffrey E. Tsai of the Public Integrity Section in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

Atty. Gen. Holder Gets Grief in the Heartland; Protesters Interrupt Speech

Eric Holder Jr./ticklethewire.com file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr.  gets his fair share of grief inside the Beltway, particularly from Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

But some of that grief on Friday came from elsewhere: the heartland.

Minnesota Public Radio reported that Holder’s speech in Minneapolis at a conference on preventing youth violence was  interrupted several times by protesters who say the FBI, under Holder’s reign,  has expanded surveillance on Arabs and Muslims and targeted peace groups.

The Star-Tribune reported that several protesters were led out of the morning speech after repeatedly standing to shout. Another 50 or so stood outside banging on drums and chanting for the FBI to stop violating First Amendment rights of people.

One of the protesters, Tracy Molm, told MPR that after the speech she spoke to Holder, who said they would have to agree to disagree on what activities are protected by the First Amendment, MPR reported.

“He can disagree all he wants, but people around the country believe these attacks need to end because they’re killing our free speech rights, our ability to question our government, and our ability to speak out,” Molm said, according to MPR.

Congress Passes Extensions of Key Provisions of Patriot Act; 2 Senators Question Justice Dept. Interpretation of Act


By CHARLIE SAVAGE
The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Two senators claimed on Thursday that the Justice Department had secretly interpreted the so-called Patriot Act in a twisted way, enabling domestic surveillance activities that many members of Congress do not understand.

At the same time, Congress and the White House were rushing to enact legislation to prevent a lapse in several of the federal government’s investigative powers under the Patriot Act that were set to expire at midnight.

The Senate passed the bill 72 to 23 late in the afternoon, and within hours the House approved it 250 to 153. In an unusual move, a White House spokesman said that President Obama, who was in Europe, would “direct the use” of an autopen machine to sign the bill into law without delay.

To Read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Justice Dept. Gives Green Light to Indict John Edwards, NBC Reports

John Edwards

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Once a presidential hopeful, John Edwards now faces far less hopeful times.

NBC News reports that the Justice Department has given the OK to file charges against Edwards, 57,  for alleged violations of  campaign finance laws stemming from a cover up of an extra-marital affair with Rielle Hunter.

NBC reported that a plea bargain is possible.

A federal grand jury in North Carolina is looking into the case.

Edwards ran as vice president in 2004 and also campaigned for president in 2004 and 2008.

Justice Dept. Not Budging: Won’t Pay for $750,000 Car FBI Agent Smashed

Latest model of Ferrari F50

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT –– A Michigan insurance company insists it’s still not getting justice from the Justice Department.

The Associated Press reports that the Justice Department is still refusing to pay $750,000 to a Michigan insurance company for a stolen Ferrari F50 that was recovered, but then was wrecked while being driven by an FBI agent in Kentucky. The Justice Department has refused to release many documents to the insurance company about the incident involving the car that was stolen from a dealership in Rosemont, Pa.

A hearing on the matter is set for June 13 in Detroit.

The Justice Department claimed in a lawsuit filed by the Southfield, Mi. insurance company, Motors Insurance,  that it was immune to tort claims when law enforcement possesses certain goods, AP reported.

The rare car was stolen in 2003 and recovered five years later in Kentucky, AP reported. It became evidence in an ongoing probe.

In May 2009, FBI agent Fred Kingston was moving the car when he lost control and crashed into a curb.