Rogers: National-Security Leaks ‘Probably the Most Damaging’ in U.S. History

July 2, 2012

National Journal on July 2, 2012 released the following:

“House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., called the recent slew of national-security leaks “probably the most damaging” in this country’s history, warning that people’s lives are in danger and families have already had to be relocated as a result of the public speculation about highly classified operational activities.

Rogers’s stark assessment, in an interview with National Journal, reflects some of the first tangible signs of operational fallout from the explosive leaks to the media, which have so far sparked accusations that Obama administration officials released the information for political gain ahead of an election.

The New York Times recently reported that President Obama attempted to derail Iran’s nuclear program by secretly ordering cyberattacks on computer systems that run its enrichment facilities, a mission that relied on spies — and unsuspecting accomplices — with access to the Natanz plant. An Associated Press report said that al-Qaida’s Yemen branch planned to send a suicide bomber to explode a U.S.-bound plane; later, it was revealed that an agent working for Saudi Arabia managed to infiltrate the terrorist network and smuggle the bomb out of Yemen. Other media reports have detailed the president’s secret drone campaign and an apparent “kill list” of counterterrorism targets.

Some articles within this “parade” of leaks, Rogers said late last week, “included at least the speculation of human source networks that now — just out of good counterintelligence activities — they’ll believe is real, even if its not real. It causes huge problems.”

“ … Somebody’s going to lose their life. We’re going to have operations that will cease. We’ll have lost opportunities. All those things are going to happen.”

Rogers, who would not confirm any specific reports, said that mere speculation about a U.S. cyberattack against Iran has enabled bad actors. The attack would apparently be the first time the U.S. used cyberweapons in a sustained effort to damage another country’s infrastructure. Other nations, or even terrorists or hackers, might now believe they have justification for their own cyberattacks, Rogers said.

This could have devastating effects, Rogers warned. For instance, he said, a cyberattack could unintentionally spread beyond its intended target and get out of control because the Web is so interconnected. “It is very difficult to contain your attack,” he said. “It takes on a very high degree of sophistication to reach out and touch one thing…. That’s why this stuff is so concerning to me.”

Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., told reporters last week that the Justice Department has summoned hundreds of officials for interviews in its investigation of the national-security leaks. Two U.S. attorneys have been appointed to probe the leaks, and 31 Republican senators wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder calling for an independent counsel to investigate.

The Justice Department hasn’t made public which leaks are under investigation, but Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told reporters that he believes the leak investigation only spans the cyberattack and the underwear bomb plot. “[The leaking problem] is far deeper than just the two of them…. The investigation doesn’t cover the entire subject matter,” Graham, who is also calling for an independent counsel, said last week.

Graham called for the probe to be expansive and include possible leaks associated with the covert U.S. raid to kill Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, which revealed the cooperation of the Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA track down the late al-Qaida leader and was later sentenced to 33 years in prison for his efforts. Graham also referred to the recent disclosure of alleged secret drone bases in the Horn of Africa. “Why should that be in the paper?” he asked.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


AG Holder and FBI Director Questioned in Leak Investigation

June 13, 2012

ABC News on June 12, 2012 released the following:

By Jason Ryan

“In what seemed to be an unusual disclosure, Attorney General Eric Holder today testified that both he and FBI Director Robert Mueller have been interviewed by FBI agents conducting the leak investigation into disclosures of the recent Al Qaeda bomb plot.

“In an abundance of caution — I’ll just say this — both the director and I have been already interviewed in connection with the knowledge that we had of those matters; at least of that matter,” Holder testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Agents from the Washington Field Office have been investigating the leaks about the averted attack, which was first revealed by The Associated Press. The FBI is also investigating the source of the leak over who revealed that the individual at the center of the plot was a double agent working for Britain’s MI-6 secret intelligence service and the CIA, along with Saudi Arabian intelligence assets.

“I can also tell you that I have been interviewed already and I can tell you that that interview was not some kind of pro forma, ‘take it easy’ interview. I mean, these were serious — a serious interview that was done by some serious FBI agents. The same thing happened to the director of the FBI, as well, because we were people who had knowledge of these matters and we wanted to make sure that with regard to the investigation that it began with us,” Holder testified

Holder was extensively questioned by Republican senators about why he has not appointed a special counsel to oversee the leak investigations into the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula bomb plot and the disclosures about President Obama ordering cyber-attacks against Iran with the Stuxnet computer worm that appeared in an article in the New York Times by David Sanger. Last Friday Holder appointed Ron Machen, the U.S. attorney for the District of Colombia, and Rod Rosenstein to lead the criminal investigations.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., drew a connection of the leaks to the White House in his questioning of Attorney General Holder, citing Sanger’s book on Obama’s foreign policy, “Confront and Conceal.”

“Mr. Sanger clearly has enjoyed great access to senior White House officials, most notably to Thomas Donilon, the national security adviser. Mr. Donilon, in effect, is the hero of the book as well as the commentator of record on events. I don’t know what Mr. Donilon did, but according to this review and from my reading of excerpts of the book, somebody at the highest level of our government has been talking about programs that I think are incredibly sensitive,” Graham said.

“I think they are extremely serious,” Holder said about the damaging effect of the leaks but defended his appointment of the two U.S. attorney’s to lead the cases.

“The two people, I have appointed to look into these matters, are first-rate prosecutors, who will do, I think, a great job. And as we look at the history of what U.S. attorneys, who have been appointed in these kinds of cases, I think we can feel a great deal of comfort,” Holder said.

Graham said it was a double standard that Holder has not appointed a special counsel yet when compared to the leak investigation of CIA Officer Valerie Plame, which focused on the Bush White House.

“Vice President Biden was on TV morning, noon and night, urging the Bush administration to appoint a special counsel in the Valerie Plame case,” Graham said.

“As attorney general, I am seized with the responsibility of looking at allegations, controversies and making the decision on the basis of what I think is best for a successful investigation and potential prosecution,” Holder said.

In the Plame case then Attorney General John Ashcroft recused himself from the investigation when it appeared the White House may be involved. Several months after the initial investigation began then Deputy Attorney General James Comey appointed U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald as special counsel.

Under questioning from Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., Holder hinted today that he may have to recuse himself at some point.

“Could you specifically tell us whether either David Axelrod or the president or Jay Carney have a valid basis for reaching the conclusion that the case does not present a conflict of interest? Can they really say that at this point knowingly?” Kyl asked.

“Well, I would say on the basis of what I know at this early stage of the investigation, there is not a basis for a conflict determination. But it is something that we are monitoring on an ongoing basis. Director Mueller and I have both set up in place at the Justice Department and the FBI a mechanism so that we can be advised on the possibility of a conflict. And if, at some point, the people who have been given that responsibility indicate to Bob — to Director Mueller or to me that we are in a conflict situation, we will act appropriately,” Holder said.

Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, who had called for Holder’s resignation during the hearing, asked Holder if he was concerned that U.S. Attorney Ron Machen, who is heading up one of the criminal leak investigations, had made $4,600 in political donations to the Obama campaign in 2007 and 2008 before he was appointed U.S. attorney.

“Would it surprise you to know that he is a political contributor to President Obama’s campaign and indeed serves as a volunteer in ‘Obama for America,’ and assisted in the vetting of potential vice presidential candidates?” Cornyn asked.

“I am confident that he has the ability, the capacity to investigate this case in a non-partisan, independent, thorough and aggressive way,” Holder responded.

Following Holder’s hearing Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., introduced a resolution in the Senate calling for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the string of recent national security and intelligence leaks.”

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Attorney: Terror suspect isolated for a year

June 12, 2012

CBS News on June 11, 2012 released the following:

“LOUISVILLE, Ky. — An Iraqi man facing terrorism charged in Kentucky has been held in solitary confinement for more than a year with no contact with other inmates or access, television, radio or outdoor recreation during the daytime, his attorney said.

The conditions under which 24-year-old Mohanad Shareef Hammadi have been held violate his constitutional rights, defense lawyer Jim Earhart said.

“It’s horrendous,” Earhart told The Associated Press on Monday. “He’s doing about as well as could be expected if you put someone in a room by himself for a year.”

Earhart has asked U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell to release Hammadi on bail until his Aug. 27 trial in Bowling Green. Russell has postponed the trial from the original date of July 30 because of a scheduling conflict.

Hammadi faces 12 charges, including attempting to send material support such as rocket-propelled grenade launchers, sniper rifles, machine guns and explosives to al-Qaida. A co-defendant in the case, 30-year-old Waad Ramadan Alwan, has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing Oct. 2.

Prosecutors said Alwan and Hammadi lied to gain refugee status and enter the U.S. Prosecutors also said the pair took part in insurgent activities near Baiji, Iraq, including planting improvised explosive devices targeting U.S. troops.

In search warrants in the case, the FBI said the pair talked about attacking American soldiers and building homemade bombs. The two were caught in an FBI sting involving a confidential informant.

Earhart is due in federal court Wednesday in Louisville for a hearing on the bail request. The motion does not specify where Hammadi would spend his home detention if he is released. Federal authorities use several detention centers in Kentucky to hold inmates. Court records do not reveal where Hammadi is being held under an assumed name. Federal prosecutors had not responded to a request for comment nor filed a response in court as of midday Monday.

Charles Rose, a former Army intelligence officer and military attorney, said there may be intelligence or national security reasons for keeping Hammadi under an assumed name and in isolation.

“It’s perfectly legitimate to do it if they’ve got a valid reason to believe this individual might be a danger to himself or others or if others might be a danger to him,” said Rose, who teaches at Stetson College of Law in Gulfport, Fla. “Is it uncommon? Absolutely, it’s uncommon.”

Since pleading guilty, Alwan has been moved to the general population at an undisclosed jail and given the freedoms of other inmates, including the ability to socialize, watch television and have recreation time during the day, Earhart said.

When asked if federal authorities were trying to coerce a guilty plea from Hammadi by putting him in solitary confinement, Earhart said he wasn’t sure, but found the differing circumstances of Alwan and Hammadi curious.

“It seems more than coincidental,” Earhart said. “The only difference I can see between them is one pleaded guilty and one hasn’t.”

Earhart said he’s discussed a plea deal with prosecutors, but so far they have not reached an agreement.

Rose said to show that Hammadi is being mistreated, Earhart will have to present evidence that there’s no legitimate reason for holding his client in isolation.

“His detention has to be above board and not behind somebody’s back,” Rose said.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Eric Holder appoints 2 US attorneys to lead leaks probe

June 9, 2012

Boston Herald on June 9, 2012 released the following:

“By Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Two U.S. attorneys are taking over separate FBI investigations into leaks of national security information that critics have accused the White House of orchestrating to improve President Barack Obama’s re-election chances, a claim Obama calls “offensive” and “wrong.”

Recent news articles contained details of U.S. involvement in a partially successful computer virus attack on Iran’s nuclear program and on the selection of targets for counterterrorism assassination plots. The leaked information generally painted Obama as a decisive and hands-on commander in chief.

“The notion that my White House would purposely release classified national security information is offensive. It’s wrong,” Obama told reporters at a news conference Friday. “And people I think need to have a better sense of how I approach this office and how the people around me here approach this office.”

Obama promised investigations into the source of leaks about U.S. involvement in cyberattacks on Iran and drone strikes on suspected terrorists.

“We’re dealing with issues that can touch on the safety and security of the American people, our families or our military personnel or our allies, and so we don’t play with that,” he said.

Hours later, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that two U.S. attorneys will lead a pair of criminal investigations already under way into possible unauthorized disclosures of classified information within the executive and legislative branches of government.

Holder said he was confident the prosecutors would follow the facts and evidence wherever they led.

“The unauthorized disclosure of classified information can compromise the security of this country and all Americans, and it will not be tolerated,” he said.

Holder assigned Ronald Machen, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, and Rod Rosenstein, the U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland, to direct separate probes that are already being conducted by the FBI.

Three weeks ago, FBI Director Robert Mueller said the bureau had launched an investigation into who leaked information about an al-Qaida plot to place an explosive device aboard a U.S.-bound airline flight. Separately, calls from Capitol Hill have mounted urging a leak probe into a New York Times [NYT] story a week ago about U.S. involvement in cyberattacks on Iran.

Obama said his administration has “zero tolerance” for such leaks and that there would be an internal administration probe.

“We have mechanisms in place where if we can root out folks who have leaked, they will suffer consequences,” the president said. “In some cases, it’s criminal. These are criminal acts when they release information like this. And we will conduct thorough investigations, as we have in the past.”

Leaders of the Senate and House intelligence committees said Thursday they were drafting legislation to further limit access to highly classified information and possibly impose new penalties for revealing it. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said he will investigate recent leaks.

Lawmakers have pointed to recent stories by The New York Times, The Associated Press and other news organizations that contain previously secret information and cite anonymous U.S. officials.

The strongest claims came Tuesday from Obama’s 2008 election opponent, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

“They’re intentionally leaking information to enhance President Obama’s image as a tough guy for the elections,” McCain said after taking to the Senate floor to list some of the alleged breaches. “That is unconscionable.”

McCain called on the administration to appoint an outside special counsel to investigate.

In a statement Friday, McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Holder’s decision “falls far short of what is needed” and repeated McCain’s call for a special counsel.

The House Intelligence Committee chairman, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said his committee would formally investigate the leaks but that he was concerned about the level of cooperation he would get from two government agencies.

“Just today, the CIA informed the (committee) that it cannot respond to our request for information regarding the leaks, a very troubling event indeed,” Rogers said.

The CIA has come under fire for allegedly sharing with Hollywood filmmakers classified details of last year’s U.S. raid into Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden.

A Justice Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information, said that some officials in the department’s national security division recused themselves from one of the leak probes but that the department overall was investigating.

There are at least three investigations ongoing into disclosures of classified information.

Before becoming U.S. attorney, Machen helped lead the white-collar and internal investigation practices at the prominent Washington law firm of WilmerHale. He served as an assistant U.S. attorney from 1997 to 2001.

Machen is leading a high-profile political corruption probe of officials in the District of Columbia. The latest development in that investigation came this week when District of Columbia Council chairman Kwame Brown resigned after being charged with lying about his income on bank loan applications and violating a city campaign law.

Brown pleaded guilty Friday.

Rosenstein was an associate independent counsel who worked for Whitewater prosecutor Ken Starr from 1995 to 1997. He was co-counsel in the fraud trial of Jim and Susan McDougal, the former real estate partners of Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Both of the McDougals were convicted in a trial that also resulted in the conviction of then-Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker.

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said he hopes that the Justice Department brings “the full force of the law against these criminals.”

“We need to send a clear message to anyone who considers leaking sensitive information and putting Americans at risk: If you leak classified information, you will face jail time,” Smith said in a statement.

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., called Machen and Rosenstein “strong, capable, independent prosecutors” and said the Justice Department’s consultation with the Judiciary and Intelligence committees was an aid to congressional oversight.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


New FBI Probe of Bomb Plot Highlights Administration’s Tough Stance on Leaks

May 18, 2012

National Journal on May 16, 2012 released the following:

“By Yochi J. Dreazen and Olga Belogolova

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that the Associated Press had first reported that a recent bomb plot had been foiled by an undercover Saudi Arabian intelligence operative. That was first reported by The Los Angeles Times.

The FBI has launched a criminal probe designed to identify the government officials who leaked key details of a foiled al-Qaida bomb plot, the latest indication of the Obama administration’s unrelenting push to find and punish those sharing classified information with the media.

FBI Director Robert Mueller, appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, said that the agency was trying to identify which officials had spoken to reporters about the foiled attack, helping the Associated Press report that the scheme was part of an al-Qaida plot to down a U.S.-bound airliner with an sophisticated underwear bomb. The agency is also looking for who told media outlets that the plot was broken up with the help of an undercover agent working for the Saudi Arabian intelligence service, a detail first reported by The Los Angeles Times.

The Saudi assistance doubtlessly saved significant numbers of American lives, and Mueller — like other Obama administration officials — warned that future cooperation could be hampered by the disclosure of the Saudi role.

“Leaks such as this threaten ongoing operations, puts at risk the lives of sources, makes it much more difficult to recruit sources, and damages our relationships with our foreign partners,” Mueller said. “And consequently, a leak like this is taken exceptionally seriously, and we will investigate thoroughly.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, pressed Mueller on whether the information had been leaked by the administration for political gain, likening the details on the bomb plot to what he described as the “authorized leaks from the White House about the operation to kill Osama bin Laden.” The FBI director declined to answer the question.

The hearing offered an unusually vivid illustration of the Obama administration’s hard-line approach to the news media.

The administration took office with a promise of unprecedented transparency, including – in a sharp change from the Bush administration — posting the names of those visiting the White House onto its website. The White House also offered strong support for a so-called shield law preventing reporters working national-security stories from being forced to identify confidential sources.

But those moves have been increasingly outweighed by the administration’s aggressive effort to crack down on those responsible for sharing classified information with the news media.

The White House’s main tool has been the Espionage Act, a 1917 law passed during the height of World War I as a way of finding and punishing officials passing useful information to enemy countries. The legislation had been used to bring cases against suspected leakers a grand total of three times in the previous 91 years; the Obama administration has invoked it to prosecute six such cases in the past three years alone. If the FBI believes it has found the official or officials who spoke to the AP, that tally will increase to seven.

The first case brought under the Espionage Act targeted Thomas Drake, a whistle blower from the National Security Agency who was indicated for giving a reporter information detailing massive waste, fraud, and inefficiencies at the secretive agency. The Justice Department’s case against Drake fell apart days before the trial was set to begin last summer, highlighting the difficulties of winning convictions in such cases.

That hasn’t stopped the administration from trying. In January, the Justice Department indicted John Kiriakou, a former CIA officer accused of providing classified information about waterboarding and other controversial interrogation methods to journalists and misleading the agency while trying to get permission to publish a memoir about his time there. The case is ongoing.

The others facing potential prison time for their dealings with the media are former FBI translator Shamai Leibowitz, State Department contractor and analyst Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, and Pfc. Bradley Manning, accused of leaking thousands of classified military and State Department documents to online whistle-blower WikiLeaks. Leibowitz was sentenced to 20 months in prison in 2010 for leaking classified information to a blogger regarding Israel’s efforts to influence Congress and public opinion; the other cases are continuing.

The new investigation began earlier this month when news leaked that the CIA had helped to foil a Yemeni-based attempt to use a sophisticated underwear bomb to bring down a Western airliner. The Los Angeles Times soon reported that an undercover Saudi agent had penetrated the al-Qaida affiliate there, volunteered for the supposed suicide mission, and then secreted the bomb safely into the hands of other intelligence operatives.

The leak infuriated the Saudis, who said it put the agent at risk and endangered other undercover operatives elsewhere in the field. The unnamed agent and his family were subsequently placed into protective custody. The anger was felt just as fiercely in Washington, where an array of powerful lawmakers warned that disclosing the source and method of the information would make the Saudis less likely to work with the U.S. in the future and make it harder to foil new plots.

The AP has defended its reporting, with spokesman Paul Colford saying in a written statement that the news service “acted carefully and with extreme deliberation in its reporting on the underwear bomb plot and its subsequent decision to publish.”

That argument fell on deaf ears on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, with Mueller saying that he didn’t want to say the leak would have a “devastating” impact on U.S. intelligence gathering efforts — but then effectively saying just that.

“The relationship with your counterparts overseas are damaged and which means that an inhibition in the willingness of others to share information with us where they don’t think that information will remain secure,” he said. “So it also has some long-term effects which is why it is so important to make certain that the persons who are responsible for the leak are brought to justice.”

Those who leaked the new information may or may not be caught. But the ferocity of Mueller’s comments mean that the administration’s war against those who disclose such information won’t wind down anytime soon.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


US ‘Assange hunt’ chokes air for whistleblowers

March 27, 2012

RT on March 27, 2012 released the following:

“Washington’s relentless pursuit of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and alleged whistle-blower Bradley Manning, is no secret. But the fate of the two men has got US journalists worried, that they too could soon find themselves behind bars.

Julian Assange’s life resembles a game of chess. He is an Australian citizen in the custody of Britain fighting extradition to Sweden. But no one wants the king of WikiLeaks more than America. Washington has had secret plans for Assange since at least January 2011.

Ironically, the secret was uncovered earlier this month after five million confidential emails from the global intelligence company Stratfor were published by WikiLeaks.

“It’s done frequently when a defendant is outside the US. They’ll get an indictment, which is secret. They’ll seal the charging document of the indictment. They will ask for an arrest warrant and that will also be sealed. That way, the US stands behind a big large boulder, if you will, and then jumps out from that boulder and arrests someone,” says Douglas McNabb, federal criminal defense attorney and extradition expert.

Under house arrest for more than a year, Assange has not been charged with any crime in any country, though Sweden wants to question him over sex-related allegations. The US meanwhile, is determined to punish the forty-year old.

Apparently, it is payback for exposing confidential cables repeatedly shaming America by shining a spotlight on illegalities in overseas military operations and on some embarrassing tactics and opinions from the State Department.

Washington says publishing the documents has created a national security risk. The Justice Department has reportedly mounted an unprecedented investigation into WikiLeaks, aimed at prosecuting Assange under the espionage act.

“They’re going to continue going after Mr. Assange to make a point that we’re tough and we’re not going to let anybody threaten America, whether it’s Al-Qaeda or it’s an Australian national,” believes journalist James Moore.

And some say they’ll go to any lengths to make the point.

“The US government within the federal arena likes to charge others – that have either aided and abetted or assisted or were full blown co-conspirators – likes to go after those in order to flip them. To get them to co-operate with the US government against the major players, in this case Mr. Assange,” McNabb says.

The US is now apparently working on flipping none other than Private Bradley Manning. The US soldier is facing 22 federal charges for allegedly leaking 700,000 documents and videos to WikiLeaks. He’s one of six Americans, the Obama administration has charged with espionage.

“If one of those cases makes it to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court upholds the Espionage Act as an act which essentially criminalizes any whistleblower, anybody who exposes war crimes, anybody who challenges the official narrative of the lies of the state, then that’s it. Because that would mean that any leaker could automatically be sent to prison for life. And at that point any idea of freedom of information is over. We will only know what the state wants us to know,” Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author told RT.

“It’s supposed to be about protecting the national security of the United States. But that is not the way the journalism industry will view it. They will view it as being a message to them. ‘Be careful who you talk to. Be careful what you write because you can be next.’ I think a number of reporters will say ‘I am not risking it,’” Moore believes.

Critics say the Obama administration’s unprecedented “war on whistleblowers” may ultimately deliver a death sentence to freedom of the press in the US. If people and or publishers are criminally convicted and jailed for exposing the truth, more journalists may prefer to abandon First Amendment privileges and reserve the right to remain silent.

Julian Assange’s show ‘The World Tomorrow’ is to premiere on RT later this month.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Secret evidence at issue in South Seattle terrorism plot

February 27, 2012
Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif
“Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif, aka Joseph Anthony Davis, 33, of Seattle.
Photo: State Department Of Corrections”

SeattlePI.com on February 26, 2012 released the following:

“Classified surveillance conducted prior to arrest

By LEVI PULKKINEN

Federal authorities with a secret warrant were intercepting phone calls related to a planned terrorist attack on a South Seattle military induction center well before the alleged plotters were arrested.

While details remain sparse, court filings in the case against Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif – a SeaTac man accused of plotting to kill dozens of Department of Defense employees at the East Marginal Way South center – show federal agents had been conducting electronic surveillance of Abdul-Latif in the weeks or months before his arrest.

Jailed since June and facing a potential life sentence if convicted of terrorism-related charges, Abdul-Latif is accused of preparing to storm the Military Entrance Processing Station with two other men and open fire there with automatic weapons and grenades. One of his alleged conspirators was actually a government informant who purportedly turned to Seattle police after Abdul-Latif came to him searching for weapons.

U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan and others were quick to praise the informant in the days after Abdul-Latif and Los Angeles resident Walli Mujahidh were arrested. Mujahidh has since pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.

The informant’s actions – going to police, then working, in essence, as an undercover agent – were presented publicly as the essential break in the case.

Now, though, court documents indicate Abdul-Latif had been under investigation for months before the informant came forward in May.

Abdul-Latif appears to have himself been the target of a wiretap warrant obtained through a secret federal court operating under the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act, better known as FISA.

Prosecutors have filed notice that they intend to use “information obtained and derived from electronic surveillance” conducted with a warrant issued by the FISA court. What evidence prompted that warrant to be issued remains classified, and almost certainly will not be provided to Abdul-Latif’s defense attorneys or the public.

Created in the late 1970s in an attempt to curtail unjustified surveillance of Americans, the FISA system is a classified forum through which law enforcement agents – chiefly the FBI – can obtain search warrants that will never be fully disclosed to their targets or the public.

Under the FISA process, agents present the closed court with statements asserting they have probable cause to believe their target is an agent of a foreign government or terrorist organization, and receive a warrant to tap the target’s phone or search their property. That probable cause statement remains classified, though it must be provided to the U.S. District Court judge hearing the criminal case if prosecutors hope to present evidence obtained through the FISA warrant at trial.

Some aspects of the FISA system have drawn criticism in recent years, largely because the number of FISA warrants has increased dramatically since the Sept. 11 attacks. Congress has repeatedly expanded the wiretapping authority available through FISA – notably through the FISA Amendments Act in 2008 – but the warrant acquired against Abdul-Latif was most likely a traditional FISA action in line with those initially considered under the law.

Neither the Justice Department nor Abdul-Latif’s attorneys would speak about the case with regard to the secret evidence apparently now in play. Still, there’s reason to believe transcripts of Abdul-Latif’s tapped phone calls may be declassified if the case proceeds to trial.

It also remains unclear whether information obtained through a secret warrant may be introduced in the state criminal case against Michael McCright – a Lynnwood man accused of running two Marines off of Interstate 5 in North Seattle. McCright, a convicted felon also known as Mikhial Jihad, is alleged to have spoken with Abdul-Latif by phone at least three times; prosecutors have not divulged how or when those phone calls were intercepted.

Extent of surveillance unclear

Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh were arrested Jan. 24, less than a month after the informant went to Seattle police and claimed Abdul-Latif was scheming to kill Western Washington soldiers.

The man who would become key to the government’s case against Abdul-Latif met Abdul-Latif several years before. Abdul-Latif, a failed janitor and ex-con who adopted a Muslim name in 2007, had come to believe the man shared his views and willingness to turn to violence, according to charging documents.

“Abdul-Latif said that ‘jihad’ in America should be a ‘physical jihad,’ and not just ‘media jihad,’ expressing his view that it was necessary to take action rather than just talk,” an FBI agent told the court. “Abdul-Latif referred to the 2009 Fort Hood massacre, when a single gunman killed 13 people … (and) said that if one person could kill so many people, three attackers could kill many more.”

Writing the court, the agent said Abdul-Latif was recorded expressing his anger about United States activities in Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen, and saying that he believed killing American soldiers was justified.

The men had initially aimed at attacking Joint Base Lewis-McChord, but later changed their target to the South Seattle intake center. The facility is next to a day care.

The informant met with Seattle detectives on June 3 and said he’d met with Abdul-Latif four days prior. He then began to divulge details of the purported plot, including that Abdul-Latif had intended to attack the Tacoma base.

In early June, Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh spoke with the informant, offering details on the planned attack, according to charging documents. They met outside the recruiting station and conducted reconnaissance inside the center.

Despite a short stint in the Navy, Abdul-Latif knew little about firearms but believed the informant could assist him in acquiring automatic weapons, according to charging documents.

“Abdul-Latif told the source that he wanted to acquire, for use in the attack, AK-47 assault rifles, a rocket-propelled grenade, grenades, and bulletproof vests,” the FBI agent told the court.

According to charging documents, Abdul-Latif told Mujahidh and the informant their objective was to “take out anybody wearing green or a badge.”

Law enforcement provided the informant with weapons – a Heckler & Koch submachine gun, an M-16-style rifle and a fragmentation grenade – prior to a June 14 meeting. All had been rendered inoperable before the meeting.

Abdul-Latif examined the weapons later that day, according to charging documents. The men then reviewed a map of the center, and Abdul-Latif suggested a plan of attack.

In the days that followed, Abdul-Latif provided the informant with money to buy the weapons, the FBI agent continued. Mujahidh arrived in Seattle on two days before his arrest.

Planning continued through the evening of June 22, when the guns were delivered and the plotters were arrested at a Seattle warehouse, the FBI agent alleged. Mujahidh pleaded guilty in December and may testify against Abdul-Latif if the case goes to trial, which is scheduled to start in early May.

Defense faults prosecutors for secrecy

Following the arrests, the informant drew praise from Durkan and Seattle Police Chief John Diaz. Then as now, authorities contended the informant’s tip to police sparked the sting operation.

“This attack was foiled because of the trust and relationships the men and women of the Seattle Police Department enjoy with our community,” Diaz said at the time. The informant, he continued, “ended the plot intended to take innocent lives.”

Speaking shortly after the arrests, Durkan declined to answer when asked whether Abdul-Latif was being investigated before the informant came to police.

Now, though, attorneys for Abdul-Latif contend investigators were already at work for some time before the informant contacted authorities. They noted that the investigation appears to have begun “months” before the informant became involved.

Contacted for comment, Abdul-Latif’s attorneys declined to expand on the allegation or say whether their client’s phone had been tapped.

Abdul-Latif had for some time been posting videos to Youtube discussing his views on his adopted faith. He praised Anwar al-Awalki – a New Mexico-born recruiter for al-Qaida killed in Yemen by a U.S. missile strike in September – in one of several rambling speeches recorded in his apartment.

In October, federal prosecutors in Seattle filed a single-paragraph notice stating they would be using evidence obtained through electronic monitoring conducted under a FISA warrant. Going forward, it will likely fall to U.S. District Court Judge James Robart to determine what classified material, if any, will be made available to Abdul-Latif’s attorneys.

Without arguing that the government’s claims should be made public, Abdul-Latif’s attorneys have asked that the sealed pleadings be routed to Seattle defense attorney Jeff Robinson, who has been cleared by the Department of Defense to review top secret material.

Prosecutors on the case have endeavored to have their legal arguments heard by Robart privately. Abdul-Latif’s attorneys argue the move violates federal law and, ultimately, endangers their client’s constitutional rights.

“Barring the security-cleared member of the defense team from participating in discovery determinations cripples the adversary process without any commensurate benefit to national security,” Abdul-Latif’s attorneys told the court, noting that Robinson previously reviewed “extremely sensitive” classified information while involved in a military commission trial in Guantanamo Bay.

“Moreover, defense counsel are not clairvoyant,” they continued. “Without access to either the classified evidence or the government’s arguments for non-production, Mr. Abdul-Latif will be deprived of his right to counsel at this stage, and of the other fair trial rights to which he is constitutionally entitled.”

Disclosure requirements still demand prosecutors produce any exculpatory information to Abdul-Latif’s defense. But the court – in this case Judge Robart – may allow the government to delete or redact portions that pose a “reasonable danger” to national security.

Robart has also been tasked with reviewing the propriety of the FISA warrant apparently obtained by investigators. Unlike a standard search or wiretap warrant, though, the defense won’t have an opportunity to review the warrant application.

‘There could be boldface lies’

The law that will govern the court’s handling of classified information in Adbul-Latif’s case – the Classified Information Procedures Act – directs that defendants facing secret evidence “should not stand in a worse position, because of the fact that classified information is involved.” But, as a practical matter, the restrictions make a defense team’s work more difficult.

Robart could order that prosecutors release summaries of classified evidence. Were he to order the government to release the investigator’s statements in full, he’d be the first federal judge to do so.

Josh Dratel, a New York defense attorney with a long record of cases involving secret evidence, said there has been an “explosion” in the number of FISA warrants issued since Sept. 11.

Prosecutors benefit from the secrecy, in part because the defense is unable to challenge the claims that prompted the warrant in the first place, Dratel said.

“It’s not an adversarial process,” Dratel said. “We never see the warrant. …

“There could be just boldface lies, and we’d never get any of that information.”

It’s not yet clear what defense Abdul-Latif will put if the case proceeds to trial.

Abdul-Latif may claim he’s innocent of the allegations against him, or that he was entrapped by the government informant. In court documents, the prosecution has also suggested Abdul-Latif may offer a “mental” defense – that he is either less-culpable or not guilty because of a mental illness.

When all is said and done, Abdul-Latif’s defense attorneys will likely get to see transcripts of the recorded calls at issue in the prosecution. That’s the case in most prosecutions involving warrants issued through the FISA process, said Alex Abdo, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project.

“What they’ll normally get at the end of all this is transcripts of the intercepts,” Abdo said. “Those will usually be classified at first. … Sometimes those transcripts are declassified shortly before trial.”

Abdo said the secrecy involved leaves the defense at a disadvantage, chiefly by limiting the opportunities to challenge the prosecution’s claims. He also asserted there has been an erosion of the wall between the national security functions envisioned when the FISA process was created and criminal law enforcement.

State defendant also faces life

What impact, if any, the FISA-obtained evidence could have on McCright’s prosecution in state court also remains unclear.

McCright is accused of swerving at a government-owned sedan carrying a uniformed Marine sergeant and another noncommissioned officer on July 12. Prosecutors also claim McCright had been in contact with Abdul-Latif, a Des Moines man accused of plotting to attack a South Seattle military processing station.

Writing the court, attorneys for McCright characterized the connection put forward by King County prosecutors as “tenuous” and said they have not received any evidence backing the claim. They also noted that McCright, unlike Abdul-Latif and a second man, is not accused of terrorism.

Outlining the allegations related to the July 12 incident, FBI Special Agent Len Carver III said the Marine sergeants left the South Seattle Military Entrance Processing Station – Abdul-Latif’s alleged target – at 4:45 p.m. While the staff sergeant driving the car remained in uniform, the other man had changed into civilian clothing.

The Marines were headed north on Interstate 5 near Northgate when a small blue car sped toward them, Carver told the court. They saw a bearded man with a skull cap behind the wheel, and subsequently identified him as McCright.

Without warning, McCright swerved at the government car, forcing it into the emergency lane, the FBI agent said in court documents. McCright then allegedly pulled in front of the Marines’ vehicle and slammed on his brakes, nearly causing a collision.

The gunnery sergeant riding in the sedan’s passenger seat called 911 and reported the Geo Metro’s license plate number to the police. McCright was arrested on Sept. 8 in Seattle.

What connection McCright had to Abdul-Latif has not been outlined in court documents. Senior Deputy Prosecutor Gary Ernsdorff has said only that McCright’s cell phone was used to call Abdul-Latif prior to Latif’s arrest.

“Investigators have confirmed that the cell phone used by the defendant … was used on at least three occasions to contact Abdul-Latif prior to Latif’s arrest by federal authorities,” Ernsdorff said in court documents. “The FBI is continuing to investigate defendant McCright’s possible connection to domestic terrorism.”

On at least one occasion, FISA-obtained information has been used in state prosecution. No one has suggested it will be in McCright’s case.

McCright faces life in prison if convicted on the second-degree assault charge filed against him. His previous convictions make him eligible for the sentence under Washington’s “three-strikes” law.

Abdul-Latif remains jailed, as does McCright. Both men have pleaded not guilty.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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